UK car buyers to benefit from toughest-ever emissions tests

Tests to give consumers greater confidence that new cars are not only the cleanest, but the most fuel efficient ever produced.

Newly designed cars will start to be tested under the new regime over the coming months, with car buyers set to benefit from more realistic emissions and fuel economy performance data from early 2018. These new tests replace a single laboratory test that has not been updated for 20 years.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, ( The SMMT) comments, “Over the past 20 years, vehicles have advanced at a rapid rate, with high tech safety and comfort features, from electronic stability control, parking sensors and airbags to air conditioning, heated windscreens and electric seats now increasingly fitted as standard. However, the way they are tested has not kept pace, resulting in a gap between performance in the lab and on-road where fitment of these in-car technologies can differ across models, and conditions such as speed, congestion, road surface and driving style can vary dramatically from journey to journey and driver to driver”

A Government testing programme last year found that modern diesel cars emit six times more nitrogen oxide in the real world than in the lab.

Under the new rules, manufacturers will have to slash those emissions by two-thirds but they will still be allowed at a higher level than acceptable laboratory limits.

A further reduction in emissions will be required from September 2020.

What are these tests?

These new tests measure everything from fuel consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) to nitrogen oxides (NOX), particulates by mass and number (PM/PN) and carbon monoxide (CO), and are part of European regulations designed to improve air quality and tackle climate change.

All newly launched cars will have to undergo robust official on-road testing before they go on sale – an element that no other vehicle testing regime in the world requires, as well a tough new laboratory test.

From 1 September, every new car model destined for UK showrooms will need to undergo a new test called the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), which measures all regulated emissions, as well as CO2 and fuel economy.

Like the previous test, it is conducted in controlled laboratory conditions for consistency across every test and every new vehicle in every country.

However, it is faster, longer and more dynamic, with a greater range of vehicle and engine speeds, engine load, gear changes and temperatures.

It will also consider modern vehicle technology.

Based on some half a million miles of real driving data, it will be far closer to the conditions most people experience on the road today according to the SMMT

Additionally, new models being developed for sale in the UK will also need to prove their air quality credentials by passing a brand new Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test using special state-of-the-art portable emissions measurement (PEMS) equipment, which is a world first.

This very sensitive equipment analyses the trace tailpipe emissions of pollutants, including NOX and particulates, while the car is driven in a wide range of both everyday and extreme conditions, ensuring vehicles meet the tough Euro 6 emissions standard on the road as well as in the lab.

What does the SMMT think?

“We welcome this challenging new regime, which will provide hard evidence that the industry’s ongoing investment in ever more advanced technology is delivering on air quality goals.

Combined, these new and demanding tests will soon give consumers emissions performance information that is far closer to what they experience behind the wheel – and inspire greater confidence that the new cars they buy are not only the cleanest, but the most fuel efficient ever produced”. Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive


In Conclusion:

Car buyers are set to benefit from more realistic emissions and fuel economy performance data.

All newly designed cars will start to be tested under the new regime over the coming months and consumers could start to see these brand new models arrive in showrooms from as early as next year according to the SMMT.

By 1 September 2018, all new cars on sale will have undergone WLTP testing

By 1 September 2019, all will have undergone the full RDE testing for both NOx and PN.

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