Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A Detailed Look at 2006 EPA Rules

The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has enacted new emissions regulations for all motorcycles - including scooters - for the 2006 model year. Click here for the 49-page PDF file.

Although most manufacturers make large engine scooters most are either 49cc or 150cc. A few fall in between such as the 80cc Honda Elite and the 125cc Yahama Vino 125. Until now the small 49cc models have not been regulated by the EPA. For the 2006 model year and later the EPA has created a new "Class I-A" which is 0 - 49cc engines. "Class I-B" is made up of the old Class I, 50cc - 169cc.

While 49cc scooters have not had any regulation popular scooters with 150cc engines have faced regulation since the early 80s. It was in the early 80s when classic scooters like the Vespa were removed from the US market.

For 2006 Class I (A&B) and Class II (170cc-279cc) scooters must limit Hydrocarbon emissions to 1.0 gram/kilometer, a substantial reduction from the current limit of 5.0 g/km HC. CO emission limits will remain unchanged at 12.0 g/km.
    Europe has a much greater use of scooters and motorcycles than the US. As a result they are more serious about controlling emissions. The European Union standard for 2006 has a limit of 0.3 g/km of HC and 2.0 g/km for CO.

    What does all this mean to scooter buyers in the US? 2005 and older models are grandfathered and not subject to the new rules. However, new models will be cleaner. The EPA says the average certification level for 2003 Class I models (50-169) was 1.3 g/km HC and 7.2 g/km for CO so manufacturers will have to clean up their act for 2006.

    Four-stroke engines have a much easier time meeting the new regulations than oil burning two-stroke engines.

    What about that old Vespa or Lambretta in the garage? Well, it is a major polluter just like many vintage cars from the pre-emissions days. This is not a reason to scrap a classic scooter. Restore it and enjoy it much the same way owners of classic cars do - sparingly.

    The more people we can get out of their cars and SUVs and onto newer low-emissions scooters the better off our region will be from a pollution perspective. And less pollution means a higher quality of life for everyone.