Two new tests will ensure more reliable emissions level results and help rebuild confidence in the performance of new cars: an improved laboratory test ("World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure" – WLTP) as well as a test in real driving conditions ("Real Driving Emissions" – RDE). These tests became mandatory for new car models in September 2017 and are now being extended to all new cars.
WLTP is a more stringent and reliable testing procedure in the laboratory. It provides fuel consumption and CO2 emissions values that are much closer to real world conditions than the previously used procedure (New European Driving Cycle - NEDC). The Real Driving Emissions (RDE) procedure measures emissions of NOx and ultrafine particles from vehicles on the road.
Beginning from January 2019, independent parties, including the Commission, will be able to perform officially recognised tests through accredited laboratories and technical services. Type approval authorities will have to check each year the emissions of a number of vehicles already in circulation.
Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: "In the last three years since the emissions scandal broke out, we've cardinally changed the rules of the game to prevent emissions cheating, protect our public health and the environment, and boost our industry's global competitiveness. Stronger emissions tests are a key piece of the puzzle. But we are not there yet. I mean: ongoing national investigations, the state of recalls of non-compliant cars, the roll-out of new type-approval rules – and the transition to low emission mobility."
New emissions tests phasing in step-by-step
Until recently, car emissions were only measured in the laboratory. To ensure the most realistic and robust measurement techniques possible, the Commission started developing WLTP and RDE in 2009 and 2011 respectively. As usual, stakeholders, including the automotive industry and environmental groups, were involved in the preparation of the legislation.
The RDE test is relevant for NOx and particulate emissions, which are a major cause of air pollution, will be measured more reliably in real driving conditions. This test complements a new, more realistic laboratory test procedure (WLTP test) for all emissions including CO2 and fuel consumption as well as NOx and other air pollutants.
Both WLTP and RDE already became mandatory for all new car models in September 2017. Now, from September 2018 onwards, WLTP becomes mandatory for all new cars. RDE also becomes mandatory on the same date for measuring ultrafine particles in new cars, and from September 2019 for measuring NOx.
From 2021, fuel and energy consumption will also be monitored when the car is on the road. Since the fuel consumption directly correlates to how much CO2 a car emits, this will allow for the first time a comparison of laboratory results for CO2 emissions with those under average real driving conditions.
Until 2021, the CO2 emission targets for each manufacturer will continue to be assessed under the NEDC, but the actual tests carried out during type approval of new vehicle models and new vehicles are transitioning from NEDC to WLTP.
The new CO2 emission reduction targets for 2025 (-15%) and 2030 (-30%), proposed by the Commission and currently under discussion in the European Parliament and the Council will be defined on the basis of WLTP.
Three years since Dieselgate
In September 2015 systematic and extensive cheating by car manufacturers during emissions testing was revealed. On the basis of the work started already some years earlier, the Commission was able to react with a series of actions for a clean, sustainable and competitive car industry.
In January 2016 the Commission proposed a fundamental reform of the system of type approval of vehicles. The new rules were adopted in spring 2017 and will become mandatory from September 2020. They will raise the quality level and independence of vehicle type-approval and testing, increase checks of cars that are already on the EU market and strengthen the overall system with European oversight.
Commission initiatives in an overview:
- Reforming the type-approval framework for safer and cleaner cars
- Introducing new emissions tests in the laboratory (WLTP) and on the road (RDE)
- Opening infringement procedures on breach of type-approval rules and on air quality
- Lower emissions limits for NOx from 500 mg/km in 2000 to 80mg/km in 2014 propose ambitious CO2 limits for 2025 and 2030
- Protecting consumers with a proposal to introduce a European collective redress right and monitor the recall actions in the Member States of non-compliant cars
- Fostering low and zero-emission cars, support a full value chain of battery production in Europe and build up an alternative fuel infrastructure