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First chance to get rosy lab results also on the road 
Peter Schmidt | Editor

Published: Fri, 01st September 2017 13:48:55 GMT

Dekra France test Renault

Open quote signStarting from today, life should be a great deal less complicated for new car buyers in the EU. That’s because of the obligatory introduction of two new car testing methods. From this day forward the claimed fuel-economy and exhaust emissions of cars tested by these two new procedures should be closer to what average drivers can expect on the road. Surely, a victory for common sense.

Instead of relying on media reports on which particular new diesel spews out the lowest and highest levels of NOx in daily driving, these new tests will be the best measure to date to identify with confidence the good, the bad and the ugly. 

From today there will be two new tests. 

Firstly, a new laboratory test, called WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light-Duty Vehicles Test Procedure). 

It will replace the hopelessly outdated NEDC lab test. 

In short, the new test method should be a more accurate and superior real-world measure of a vehicle’s fuel consumption and emissions. 

But there is more, much more.

A new second test measures the car’s actual pollutant emissions on the road. 

Appropriately named, it is called the real driving emissions (RDE) test. In the EU this new two-part test comes into force today. 

The WLTP test will only apply to genuine new models launched in the EU for the first time. 

A year later, from September 1st 2018 these rules will also apply to all new cars. 

In parallel, the new RDE test (Step 1) also comes into force today for genuinely new models and for all newly purchased cars from September 1 2019. 

Step 1 means that on the road - allowing for discrepancies - Euro 6 NOx emissions limits can still be exceeded by up to 110%. 

With the introduction of Step 2 in January 2021 - for all new registrations - these legal levels can only be exceeded by up to 50 per cent. 

Unlike a result based entirely on a static laboratory test, which, as Volkswagen’s deceit software illustrated, is open to manipulation, the new test procedure promises to be a great deal more down to earth.

 In short, not perfect, but more life-like and realistic. 

That’s chiefly because these new test results are partly based on real-world on-road driving. 

It suggests that the average day-to-day fuel consumption figures for example should be a great deal closer to today’s unrealistic ‘paper’ consumption figures. 

Broad brush, but the difference between today’s real-world and paper consumption figures can often be more than 50 per cent. 

They fall miles short of reality. 

From today, the new methods of measurement are more realistic and trustworthy.

 Good move.

Besides fuel economy, for long a crucial issue for many European drivers, the issue of exhaust pollutants, never a concern for ordinary motorists, has suddenly spiralled to new notoriety and significance. 

That’s chiefly because of the highly emotive issue of threatened future city bans for some high NOx emitting diesels. 

The justification is that in real-world daily driving some of today’s certified Euro 6 Clean Diesels emit a great deal more NOx than permitted. 

And some, data suggests, are a great deal worse than others.

In consequence, regularly measured NOx levels in many inner cities regularly exceed permitted safe levels. 

Unsurprisingly, the realistic on-road exhaust emissions are suddenly of real concern to Europe’s increasingly anxious new car buyers. 

In operation from today, these two new tests should finally provide motorists with trustworthy real-world figures. 

But then again, the proof of the pudding is in the eating
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