Launched in 2019, the ERTICO-led MODALES project had the vision to substantially reduce air pollution from petrol and diesel vehicles. The 18 partners of the project worked together for 45 months to bring that vision to life and propose a unique approach based on the users and how their behaviour influences emissions from powertrain, brake wear and tyre wear. The project partners came together on 12 May at the ERTICO office in Brussels to present the achievements and results of MODALES on the occasion of its Final Conference.

The MODALES Final Conference represented the opportunity to learn more about the work carried out by the project partners and what they achieved together to help realise the MODALES vision. The project partners presented the final results of the seven trial sites of MODALES and the recommendations produced in the four focus areas addressed by the project, namely driver, retrofits, On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) and vehicle inspection. The presentations were followed by lively discussions on the results and the follow-up beyond  the project.

The event opened up with a welcome from Andrew Winder (ERTICO), MODALES Project Coordinator, and an address by Joost Vantomme, CEO of ERTICO, highlighting the relevance of the project and its contribution to green mobility and to understanding the user’s influence in helping reduce emissions and improve air quality.

The impact of driver behaviour was the focus of the first part of the event. Haibo Chen (University of Leeds), Ted Zotos (IRU), Uwe Roth (LIST), Sébastien Faye (LIST), and Orhan Alankuş (Okan University) discussed the results of the research on driver behaviour factors and their correlation with emissions, and how these were measured for the exhaust, brakes and tyres. They explained how data from vehicles was collected through the use of OBD (On-Board Diagnostics) dongles and explained the challenges and benefits linked to OBD. They presented the driver guidelines, trainings videos for drivers and awareness campaign developed as part of the project and provided insights into the development and testing of the MODALES low-emission driving app and how its scoring system works to provide recommendations to the drivers, both while driving and after driving.

Periodic Technical Inspections and tampering were discussed next. Dimitris Margaritis (CERTH) and Rasmus Pettinen (VTT) set out the current situation of technical inspections in Europe, proposed an online dashboard solution to detect anomalies in vehicle performance, and evaluated the effects of tampering on the tailpipe emissions of a city bus. Esther Tenge (Spark Legal and Policy Consulting) provided more information on the legal aspects related to vehicle tampering and the recommendations and best practices developed as part of MODALES.

Arno Amberla (Proventia) addressed the research undertaken on retrofit testing, modelling and the potential outlook for diesel vehicles. He presented the retrofit system developed for the project and discussed the efficiency of retrofit for NOx reduction and its commercial feasibility for different categories of vehicles.

The last session of the day presented the trials conducted in Europe and their results, a key aspect of the project to study the behaviour of drivers and test in real conditions the potential benefits obtained from the guidelines and tools that were developed. Dimitris Margaritis (CERTH), Haibo Chen (University of Leeds), Rasmus Pettinen (VTT) and Guillaume Saint-Pierre (Cerema) discussed the methodology followed by the trials and the insights gained from them. Two types of trials were carried out: naturalistic trials using the app and training videos aimed at the drivers (in seven European countries plus limited trials in China), and controlled trials conducted by VTT in the Helsinki area with a Portable Emissions Measurement System (PEMS) in order to discover the real change in emissions before and after the training and use of the app. Overall, the trials were successful and showed that the recommendations from MODALES had a positive impact on drivers in terms of reduction of emissions.

Discussions focused on a variety of aspects, such as:

  • Increasing the reach of low-emission driving advice (tips, videos) by working with driving schools, the transport operators (represented by partner IRU) and motoring organisations (represented by FIA and RACC);
  • Effects of fleet renewal on the diesel retrofit market and shift to markets beyond Europe with older fleets;
  • How to open the driving assistant application to all (with respect to data collection and privacy);
  • Possible impact of road infrastructure on traffic emissions;
  • The future of low-emission driving with electric vehicles and increased automation (CCAM).

The Final Conference marked one of the final stages of the MODALES journey. However, the project will also be showcased at the forthcoming ITS European Congress in Lisbon, with two technical presentations (in session TP2 on Monday 22 May at 10:30) and a booth at the ERTICO stand.

Andrew Winder concluded the event and commented on the end of the project: “MODALES was the first major EU project focusing on vehicle emissions from all sources: not just from the powertrain/exhaust pipe but brakes and tyres as well. We built a lot of knowledge on what kinds of behaviour create which kinds of emissions, as well as working on diverse but complimentary solutions, from technical, to ‘soft’ measures such as awareness and training, as well as the legal side. Despite the MODALES on-road trials being more limited than originally planned, due to the majority of the project taking place while participating countries were under COVID restrictions, we showed that emission reductions that may sometimes be modest in percentage terms are still significant in terms of tonnes of pollutants saved and consequently improved air quality. Results from MODALES therefore represent a ‘quick win’ at relatively low cost, especially in the short and medium terms during which many older internal combustion engine vehicles will continue to be in use.”

If you were not able to attend the event, you can download the presentations below:


The MODALES project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 815189.