The European passenger car AdBlue pump network has more than doubled since 2017 and is likely to quadruple by 2025, according to research by commodity news and price reporting agency Argus.
AdBlue is a fluid that reduces the harmful NOx emissions from diesel engines using a so-called SCR catalyst, and its use has been required in most new diesel cars and vans in Europe since 2016. All new diesel vehicles require AdBlue from September 2019, following the introduction of the Real Driving Emissions regulation, which involves testing exhaust emissions on the road in real life conditions. Diesel engines emit on average a quarter less CO2 than gasoline engines and, using AdBlue, only small amounts of NOx. More than 16mn cars and vans in the EU use AdBlue as of June, and Argus forecasts this to rise to over 45mn vehicles by 2025.
Drivers had to fill their AdBlue tanks using five or 10 litre bottles, when the product was first introduced. These require valuable shelf space, packaging costs, involve plastic waste and can be cumbersome for users. The latest diesel cars may require three or more five litre bottles to refill their tanks. And bottled AdBlue is much more expensive than the pumped equivalent at about €2-3/litre compared with €0.50-1/litre. Drivers’ associations such as Germany’s ADAC are actively encouraging drivers to search for pumps as the cheapest and most convenient way to refill their tanks.
Some car drivers have resorted to using AdBlue pumps intended for trucks. These are similar to gasoline or diesel pumps in design and have been available at filling stations for about 10 years. They are used to fill the large AdBlue tanks on heavy-duty trucks and consequently have higher flow rates. Some car manufacturers have warned that these can damage smaller AdBlue tanks and advise against using them for cars.
To meet demand, filling station owners are now accelerating the installation of AdBlue pumps designed specifically for the smaller AdBlue tanks in cars. AdBlue passenger car pumps can be found at more than 900 sites across Europe. With growing demand for AdBlue from car drivers, Argus forecasts indicate that the European car pump network will grow to 3,400 locations by 2025, up by around 250pc from the almost 1,000 stations expected to be in operation by the end of 2019.
Germany and France have the biggest networks of AdBlue car pumps, and Argus expects this to remain the case in 2025. UK pump locations are expected to soar from just 13 sites in 2018 to almost 500 by 2025, because of the comparatively large diesel light vehicle fleet.
The ultimate size of the AdBlue pump network for cars in Europe will depend on the future of diesel engines in cars and vans. Over 3,000 locations may seem a large number, but it represents less than 3pc of the total European filling station network, which stands at about 130,000 locations. It is also much lower than the more than 9,000 stations that have AdBlue truck pumps. For cars meeting the latest Real Driving Emissions standards, many drivers will need to refill their AdBlue tanks four or more times each year, creating demand to support the investment required to expand the pump network.
“The introduction of the Real Driving Emissions regulation has changed the outlook for diesel-fuelled vehicles and will transform the European filling station network, according to Argus research,” Argus Media chairman and chief executive Adrian Binks said. “The implications for filling station owners and drivers are far-reaching.”
To find the nearest source of AdBlue, enter your location into FindAdBlue.com. This is a European AdBlue locator website and app operated by Argus, launched for passenger cars in 2017 in partnership with car manufacturers and industry partners.
AdBlue is a trademark of the VDA, a German automotive industry body, but can be produced by any company that can prove it meets the stringent quality standards for the liquid.
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About Argus Media
Argus is an independent media organisation with almost 1,000 staff. It is headquartered in London and has 23 offices in the world’s principal commodity trading and production centres. Argus produces price assessments and analysis of international energy and other commodity markets, and offers bespoke consulting services and industry-leading conferences.
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