Working Paper

Revising Mexico's NOM 044 standards: Considerations for decision-making

This study reports results of a cost-benefit analysis of changes proposed for Mexico’s heavy-duty diesel vehicle emissions standard, NOM 044, through 2037. The new regulation would significantly lower limits on emissions of particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) from trucks and buses, require that new heavy-duty diesel vehicles sold in Mexico be equipped with advanced emissions control devices and on-board diagnostic systems, and generally bring Mexico’s regulatory framework into alignment with the international heavy-duty vehicle market as well as the most progressive standards worldwide.

Over the period 2018 to 2037, the study found, the tighter NOM 044 standards would result in a net benefit to Mexico of US$123 billion (1.6 trillion Mexican pesos), taking into account the value to society of 55,000 avoided early deaths from air pollution and the reduced climate impact from lower emissions of black carbon.

Among the other conclusions:

  • NOM 044 offers manufacturers two compliance pathways, modeled on the US Environmental Protection Agency and the European Union standards. At present, the Mexican regulation incorporates outdated versions of those standards, which differ substantially with respect to both effectiveness and compliance costs. The new proposal would update NOM 044 to rely on the current versions of the standards, EPA 2010 and Euro VI, leapfrogging an intermediate step in the process. These options are functionally equivalent, require the same emissions-control and diagnostics technologies, and will result in the same compliance costs.
  • Manufacturers will have no problem meeting the new standards, as they do already in other North American and world markets. And consumers and vehicle owners should benefit additionally, as engines designed to meet the more stringent PM and NOx limits are also more fuel-efficient than those that dominate the Mexican market at present.
  • While the emissions-control technologies required to meet the updated standards depend on ultralow-sulfur diesel fuel (ULSD), there is no need for a significant lag between the date at which ULSD is widely available and promulgation of new standards.
  • Federal and local authorities should seek opportunities and incentives for early adoption or phase-in of new standards. More than 30 percent of the diesel fuel sold in Mexico already meets ultralow sulfur limits, including fuel supplied to Mexico City, Monterrey, and Guadalajara, and the share of ULSD will continue to grow.