November 29, 2021

EU Stage V Is Officially the Most Stringent Standard as Off-Road Vehicles and NRMM Improve Emission Standards

Stratas Advisors

Subscribers can access the full report from our Global Fuel Specifications service.  
Not a subscriber? Create an account

Diesel remains an important fuel for the off-road sector including construction, agricultural, mining, heating, power generation, maritime, locomotives, heavy industries etc., especially in the developing regions. Similarly with on-road fuels, harmonization of off-road diesel specifications and vehicle emission standards has yet to be achieved. This is because countries are at different stages of economic and socio-political development especially in Asia Pacific which is currently the highest user of off-road diesel. There are a number of countries that already use a single diesel grade for both their on-road and off-road sectors, while others aim to eventually harmonize specifications of off-road diesel with on-road diesel to avoid possible adulteration and distribution issues.

However, before harmonization can be achieved, countries are currently using various methods to avoid supply of illegal and off-spec products:

  • Use of dyes, markers and tax incentives to differentiate multiple diesel grades by color;
  • Encourage supply of better off-road diesel quality; or
  • Put into place a fuel quality monitoring legislation and system.

In analyzing the trends in off-road diesel quality and vehicle emissions, Stratas Advisors compared the world’s top 10 off-road diesel markets (see figure below). In this year’s ranking, the U.S. overtook China as the largest off-road diesel market, while Russia overtook India as the third largest market and Canada overtook Japan as the 6th largest market. France also took the 9th place which was previously occupied by Indonesia, while Brazil and Spain reentered the Top 10 at the 8th and 10th place respectively, resulting in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia dropping out of the top 10. It is also worthwhile to note that generally, the industrial sector comprises majority of off-road diesel demand, followed by agriculture and domestic navigation and bunkers.

Top 10 Off-Road Diesel Markets

Source: Stratas Advisors, November 2021

In the full report, Stratas Advisors found new information on specifications for off-road diesel and heating oil grades for six countries in Europe & Africa. Furthermore, despite the IMO’s switch to 0.5% sulfur requirements in marine fuels from January 2020, Stratas Advisors found that several marine diesel specs have yet to be updated in the economies of Angola, Argentina, Colombia, Equatorial Guinea, Taiwan, Uruguay and Venezuela. At the time of publishing this report, their sulfur limits continue to range from 1% to 1.5%.

Looking at the sulfur outlook for off-road diesel, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan delayed plans to phase out 2,000 ppm sulfur off-road diesel fuel to end-2021 and August 2023 respectively. However, Stratas Advisors expects it is unlikely for Tajikistan to phase it out by the end of 2021 depending on the import situation. As for emission requirements, the EU continues to move from Stage IV to Stage V for non-road mobile machinery (NRMM) from 2019 until the end of 2021, thus making EU Stage V the most stringent standard for off-road vehicles and NRMM globally (see table below). India also eventually moved to Bharat Stage IV for agricultural and construction equipment vehicles during 2021 with plans to tighten further to Bharat Stage V in the next few years.

Comparison of NRMM Emission Limits in EU and India





Stage V(1)

Bharat Stage IV (CEV/TREM)(1)



3.50 or 5.00

3.5 or 5.0

















Note: (1) Applies to agricultural tractor engine category of 56 ≤ kW < 560.

Source: Stratas Advisors, November 2021

The full report updates the previous report (see Insights, Nov. 30, 2020), and examines key developments in off-road diesel quality and vehicle emissions. The report primarily focuses on issues regarding sulfur and FAME because of the legislative and regulatory developments occurring globally for these two parameters.


Subscribers can access the full report from our Global Fuel Specifications service.
Not a subscriber? Create an account

Sign-Up for Email Alerts