Canada: Light-duty: Emissions

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1 Overview

2 History

Canadian federal regulations establishing exhaust emission limits for on-road vehicles were first promulgated in 1971 under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act which is administered by Transport Canada. On March 13, 2000, legislative authority for controlling on-road vehicle emissions was transferred to Environment Canada under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act 1999 (CEPA 1999). Under CEPA 1999, the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations where promulgated on January 1, 2003, and came into effect on January 1, 2004. These regulations replaced the previous regulations adopted under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. The new regulations adopted under CEPA 1999 continued the past approach of aligning with the federal emission standards of the US Environmental Protection Agency. On July 29, 2015, Environment Canada adopted new emissions and fuel standards harmonized with the US Tier 3 program. The emissions standards will apply to new passenger cars, light-duty trucks and certain heavy-duty vehicles and phase in over model years 2017 to 2025. The rules will also lower the annual average sulfur content of gasoline from 30 ppm to 10 ppm starting in 2017, consistent with the US requirements.

Harmonization with the United States

Increasingly, the general approach to setting vehicle emissions standards in Canada is to harmonize them with US EPA federal standards for light-duty vehicles and for heavy-duty vehicles as much as possible.

In 1988, on-road vehicle emission standards were first aligned with the US federal standards. In February 2001, the Minister of the Environment in the Federal Agenda on Cleaner Vehicles, Engines and Fuels set out a number of policy measures that would continue the harmonization of on-road emissions standards as well as to expand this harmonization by developing emission standards for off-road engines and standards for fuels that are aligned with those of the federal US EPA requirements.

Reasoning behind US harmonization was published in a 1996 report, The Socio-Economic Impacts of Adopting Tighter Motor Vehicle Emission Standards and Fuel Requirements, prepared by Industry Canada for the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment's Task Force on Cleaner Vehicles and Fuels.

3 Technical Standards

3.1 Tier 1

Tier 1 standards in Canada mirror the US Tier 1 standards. The Tier 1 standards were in effect in 1994-1995, solely on a product basis, and from 1998-2000 at full-scale.

1994-1995 MOU

For the 1994-1995 model years, Tier 1 standards were in effect as a result of an agreement made with Canadian manufacturers in February 1992, although they were not officially mandated by the Canadian government (Transport Canada). This Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) established a voluntary compliance with US EPA Tier 1 standards for gasoline-fueled 1994 and 1995 model year light duty vehicles (passenger cars) and light-duty trucks <8500 lbs GVWR. This meant that if a vehicle model manufactured for sale in the US was designed to meet Tier 1 standards, then the same model would be offered for sale in Canada.

By 1998, the Tier 1 standards were mandatory in Canada, at full-scale for all light-duty vehicles.

2001-2003 MOU (aligned with US National Low Emission Vehicle (NLEV) Program)

In the interim period between the phase-out of the emission regulations under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and the effective date of the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations, Environment Canada signed an MOU with the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturers Association, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers of Canada, and the member companies of those associations in June 2001. The MOU formalized an industry commitment to market the same low emission light-duty vehicles and light-duty trucks in Canada as in the US for model years 2001-2003.

In effect, this harmonized Canadian Standards with the US NLEV standards, based on an MOU with American auto-manufacturers, designed to achieve more stringent emissions standards in the transition period from Tier 1 to Tier 2.

3.2 Tier 2

The On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations align vehicle and engine certification requirements with those of the US federal EPA requirements beginning 1 January 2004 and including the US Tier 2 program for new light-duty vehicles, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles, and Phase 1 and Phase 2 programs for new heavy-duty vehicles and engines. Tier 2 is the current standard in place for regulating conventional pollutant emissions from light-duty vehicles in Canada. These current regulated emission standards, taking into account amendments to the original On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emissions Regulations, are specified in the Regulations Amending the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations (Vehicle Emissions) published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, Vol. 131, No. 17, 20 August 1997.

The Regulations set out technical standards for vehicles and engines for exhaust, evaporative and crankcase emissions, on-board diagnostic systems and other specifications related to emission control systems. The intention of the Regulations was to ensure that vehicles and engines meeting more stringent exhaust emission standards would begin entering the Canadian market in the 2004 model year and were phased-in over the 2004 to 2010 model year period. The phase-in schedules vary by standard and by vehicle class and can be summarized as follows: Tier 2 standards for light-duty vehicles and light light-duty trucks (2004-2007); Tier 2 standards for heavy light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles (2004-2009); Phase 1 (2005) and Phase 2 (2008-2009) standards for complete heavy-duty vehicles; and Phase 1 (2004-2006) and Phase 2 (2007-2010) standards for heavy-duty engines.

During any phase-in period, every model of vehicle or engine that is certified by the US EPA, and that is sold concurrently in Canada and the United States, is required to meet the same emission standards in Canada as in the United States. Canadian vehicles will therefore have progressively improved emission performance without specifying interim phase-in percentages in the Regulations. The final phased-in standards apply to all vehicles and engines sold in Canada, in the model year that they apply, to 100% of a class of vehicles or engines in the United States.

Bin System

The exhaust emission standards for Light-Duty Vehicles (LDV), Light-Duty Trucks (LDT), and Medium-Duty Passenger Vehicles (MDPV) align with the US Tier 2 emission standards. Manufacturers certify every vehicle to one of eleven "bins," each of which contains standards for NOx, non-methane organic gases (NMOG), CO, formaldehyde and PM. The manufacturers’ choices of bin within which to certify each vehicle is limited by the obligation to comply with fleet average NOx emissions standards.

Tier 2 Bins: Maximum Allowed Grams per Mile
Vehicle Type Standard Model Year NOx NMOG CO PM HCHO
LDV, LLDT, HLDT, MDPV Bin 1 2004+ 0 0 0 0 0
LDV, LLDT, HLDT, MDPV Bin 2 2004+ 0.02 0.01 2.1 0.01 0.004
LDV, LLDT, HLDT, MDPV Bin 3 2004+ 0.03 0.055 2.1 0.01 0.011
LDV, LLDT, HLDT, MDPV Bin 4 2004+ 0.04 0.07 2.1 0.01 0.011
LDV, LLDT, HLDT, MDPV Bin 5 2004+ 0.07 0.09 4.2 0.01 0.018
LDV, LLDT, HLDT, MDPV Bin 6 2004+ 0.1 0.09 4.2 0.02 0.018
LDV, LLDT, HLDT, MDPV Bin 7 2004+ 0.15 0.09 4.2 0.02 0.018
LDV, LLDT, HLDT, MDPV Bin 8a 2004+ 0.2 0.125 4.2 0.02 0.018
HLDT, MDPV Bin 8b 2004-2008 0.2 0.156 4.2 0.02 0.018
LDV, LLDT Bin 9a 2004-2006 0.3 0.09 4.2 0.06 0.018
HLDT, MDPV Bin 9b 2004-2009 0.3 0.18 4.2 0.06 0.018

LDV, LLDT Bin 10a 2004-2006 0.6 0.156 4.2 0.018 0.08
HLDT, MDPV Bin 10b 2004-2009 0.6 0.23 6.4 0.027 0.08

MDPV Bin 11 2004-2009 0.9 0.28 7.3 0.12 0.032
  1. The equivalent limits in units of g/km are obtained by multiplying g/mile value by 0.621
  2. Bins 8b-11 are no longer in use.

Based on vehicle sales from each bin, a company calculates a sales-weighted “fleet average NOx value” for each model year. The emission bins, fleet average NOx emission standards, timing of phase-ins and methods of calculating fleet average NOx values are consistent with the US Tier 2 emission program. As in the US program, the Canadian standards have separate fleet average requirements for LDV/LLDTs and HLDT/MDPVs until the end of the 2008 model year. However, there are no separate distinctions between Tier 2 vehicles and interim non-Tier 2 vehicles as in the US program. All Canadian Tier 2 LDV/LLDTs must meet one fleet average requirement and all HLDT/MDPVs another.

Canadian Fleet average NOx requirements, g/mile
2009 & later0.07

While this results in an upper fleet average LDV/LLDT NOx limit that is equal to that obtained for the US Tier 2 program, there was a small difference for 2004-2006 HLDT/MDPVs fleet average NOx limit for Canada. For the US 2004-2006 model year HLDT/MDPVs, a significant proportion of sales did not have to meet Tier 2 or interim non-Tier 2 fleet average NOx requirements. The only stipulation was that they meet bin 10 requirements if they were HLDTs or bin 11 requirements if they were MDPVs. The Canadian regulations required that all HLDT/MDPVs met a fleet average NOx requirement during this period.

Full Phase-In

As in the US Tier 2 program, by 2009 the standards were fully phased in, meaning that a company’s combined fleet of light-duty vehicles, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles is now subject to a single fleet average NOx emission standard of 0.07 g/mile, corresponding to the NOx standard in bin 5. Less stringent bins, Bins 8b-11 were fully phased out, with the only remaining viable bins to certify to being Bins 1-8a.


A company can, in any model year, generate NOx emission credits by achieving a fleet average NOx value that is lower than the standard. These credits can be used in a subsequent model year to offset a NOx emissions deficit (the fleet average NOx value exceeds the standard). A deficit must be offset no later than the third model year following the year in which it is incurred. NOx emission credits may also be transferred to another company.

Accounting for Differences between the US and Canada

In order to allow some flexibility in the regulations to account for market differences between Canada and the US, the Canadian regulations allow a company to exclude from the fleet average compliance requirement US certified vehicles that are sold concurrently in Canada and in the US. For vehicle models certified to emission bins having a NOx standard higher than the fleet average, this is not allowed if the total number of vehicles of the particular model sold in Canada exceeds the number sold in the US. If a company chooses this option, they must include all eligible vehicles in that group, they cannot generate emission credits or transfer credits to another company in that model year and they forfeit any emission credits obtained in previous model years. In all cases, fleet average emissions must be reported at the end of the year.

4 Links

4.1 Regulatory documents

On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations - 2003

Regulations Amending the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emissions Regulations - 2004

Regulations Amending the On-Road Vehicle and Engine Emission Regulations and Other Regulations Made Under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 - 2015

Federal Agenda on Cleaner Vehicles, Engines and Fuels

4.2 Notes

Environment Canada