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New emissions tests are good news for buyers

Two new fuel tests for cars that are sold in the UK will give car buyers a much more realistic picture of their ‘real world’ fuel economy and emissions performance.

All new car models must take these tests before they can legally be sold in the UK (or indeed anywhere within the EU or European Economic Area), and the first cars that have been tested under the new regime will start going on sale in September this year.

The new tests are the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) and the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test.Together, they replace the New European Driving Cycle test which was created in the 1980s and has not been updated since 1997.With the developments in vehicle technology since then, it was now more than a little out of date.There has also been an increasingly wide gap between vehicles’ performance in the NEDC test and actually out on the roads.

Firstly, the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure measures exhaust emissions and fuel economy in controlled laboratory conditions.It is a lot more complex, and simulates real world driving conditions much more accurately than the NEDC test

The Real Driving Emissions test will supplement the WLTP test by measuring vehicle exhaust emissions (such as nitrogen oxide and diesel particulates) on public roads, including rural, urban and motorway driving.In future, this test will also be used to measure carbon dioxide emissions and fuel economy too.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders believes the new tests are an opportunity to reassure consumers that their cars will achieve figures much closer to the official ones.Chief Executive Mike Hawes commented: “We welcome this challenging new regime, which will provide hard evidence that the industry’s ongoing investment in advanced technology is delivering on air quality goals.Combined, these new and demanding tests will give consumers 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.”

Writing in What Car?, Jim Holder speculated that the effect of the two new tests would be that, in the short-term at least, there will be “fewer model variants sold because of the massive increase in work required to test each car, and that some cars will be taken off sale as their real-world performance can't meet the new criteria.”