‘More reliable’ emissions testing for cars

New cars will have to pass tougher EU examinations to measure their CO2 outputs from today, following the scandal that saw Volkswagen use software to cheat previous emissions tests.

‘More reliable’ emissions testing for cars

The EU Commission has claimed its new emissions tests are “more reliable”, and include measurements of a vehicle’s outputs in real driving conditions as well as on rolling roads in laboratory settings.

A new, on-road, Real Driving Emissions test will gauge pollutant emissions, including nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate emissions, by attaching portable emission-measuring systems to a car while the vehicle is driven in real conditions on the road.

In this test the car will be driven outside and on a real road, taking into account the random variations in acceleration, deceleration, ambient temperature, and payloads.

Meanwhile, the commission has introduced a new laboratory test, known as the World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure, which will measure all emissions including CO2 and fuel consumption as well as NOx and other air pollutants.

The EC said the need for the new tests became apparent when it was noted that the ultrafine particles and NOx emissions of some vehicles measured on the road “substantially” exceed the emissions measured on the previously laboratory test cycle.

The commission’s vice-president for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen, described the new emissions tests as “a milestone”, but warned that more remains to be done to tackle the environmental impact of motors.

“The emissions scandal has shown that we need more independence in car testing, stronger market surveillance and the possibility for the Commission to intervene in case of wrongdoing,” he said.

“The commission presented a proposal in January 2016 to achieve just that. It has been on the table since and it is high time that the European Parliament and Council adopt it. And we need to decisively pursue EU-wide efforts to foster low emissions mobility,” Mr Katainen said.

The emissions test scandal — which came to light when it was revealed that Volkswagen fitted software to diesel models to manipulate examinations by detecting when the vehicles were on a laboratory’s rolling road — also established the need for more accurate testing.

Last year, a UK testing programme found that modern diesel cars emit six times more nitrogen oxide in the real world than in the lab.

“A quick shift to zero emissions vehicles is in all our interest given the public health and environmental risks at stake,” Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska, responsible for internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs, said.

“And it’s crucial for the car industry if it wants to remain internationally competitive. But for the time being, diesel cars remain part of our lives and we must rebuild confidence in this technology.

“That is why having new and more reliable tests for new cars is essential.

“And for cars already on the road, member states must do their job, enforce the law, and take additional steps, together with all stakeholders, to bring down emissions of the existing fleet,” she said.

The new testing will be compulsory for new car models from today, and for all new vehicles from September 2019.

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