Thirty years ago, on 21st April 1989, Vauxhall became the first UK vehicle manufacturer to offer catalytic converter availability across all models in its range – from Nova and Astra, to Corsa and Cavalier, forging the way for new environmentally focussed innovations throughout the industry.
At the same time, in a bid to ensure the new, climate-friendly technology was accessible to all, Vauxhall boldly lowered its prices on many lines, allowing customers to benefit from the developments and help reduce CO2 emissions without incurring further cost. This came in light of a £500 million investment on new test facilities and equipment to reduce emissions.
Today, Vauxhall continues to take its environmental responsibilities seriously, with its current cars meeting the strict Euro 6d-TEMP emissions standard. Further to that, by 2024, the company will deliver an electric alternative for all models, with the upcoming Grandland X hybrid electric vehicle and battery-powered next-generation Corsa later this year.
Leading the way from the start - three-way catalytic converter on every model
Back in March 1988, Vauxhall (along with sister brand Opel) quickly established itself as a leader and innovator, selling 20,541 cars with three-way catalytic converters. By the end of the same year, that figure reached 208,000 and rose again in 1989 as the new Vectra and its standard-fit catalytic converter launched.
Cutting exhaust emissions and committing to its drive for cleaner air soon meant Vauxhall implemented three-way catalytic converters across the board, reducing emissions by an impressive 90 per cent. By comparison, a conventional two-way converter favoured by other OEMs only heralded a 50 per cent reduction, or 60 per cent with a lean-burn engine.
The three-way catalytic converter was fitted as standard to the 60hp 1.3-litre fuel-injection Nova, Vauxhall’s smallest hatchback in 1989, ahead of the 1.3-litre Astra and both the 75hp 1.6-litre and 115hp 2.0-litre Vectra. The 115hp 2.0-litre Omega saloon also benefitted, alongside the top-of-the-range Vauxhall Senator, which had a three-way catalytic converter fitted as standard to its 3.0-litre, in-line six cylinder 156hp and 177hp engines.
Leading by example: Vauxhall, emissions and the environment
As climate change and the environment hit the headlines in the 1980s, road traffic and engine emissions were quickly identified as contributing to the pollution of the atmosphere. Vauxhall immediately recognised its responsibility for the protection of the environment and acknowledging the seriousness of the issue, committed in excess of £500 million to the development and fit of catalytic converters across all models, as standard.
Part of this push to help reduce emissions and protect the planet included the building of new facilities, test rigs and equipment, alongside an insulated ‘soak tower’ to simultaneously emissions test more than 130 cars.
Continuing to innovate and lead with way, the new 1985 1.8-litre Vauxhall Cavalier heralded another first for the company, as the model was brought onto the market with a catalytic converter specially developed for Europe, rather than the U.S.A as had previously been the norm among manufacturers.
From that point onwards, Vauxhall has remained dedicated to doing all it can in defence of the environment, introducing active carbon filters to its three-way catalytic converters to capture errant hydrocarbons in its bid to further reduce its customers’ carbon footprint.
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