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Car makers struggling to meet WLTP fuel consumption and emission testing protocol deadline…

Some car makers in Europe are struggling to meet a September 2018 deadline whereby all their vehicles will need to comply with the WLTP fuel consumption and emissions testing protocol to be eligible for sale in Europe.

WHILE AUSTRALIA IS STILL lagging Europe in the adoption of a strict vehicle emissions standard, car makers in Europe are rushing to meet a September 2018 deadline whereby their entire passenger car fleets will need to have met the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP).

The WLTP we’ve written about before but it replaces the old New European Driving Cycle which is the lab-based fuel consumption and emissions protocol still used in Australia. WLTP is aimed at providing a more realistic fuel consumption and emissions picture and is supported by the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test which is an on-road test lasting 120 minutes. From September, only a car that has passed both the WLTP and RDE will be eligible for sale in Europe.

Volvo yesterday announced its entire MY2019 fleet (from April production) has been homologated under the WLTP protocol.

“Volvo welcomed the new WLTP testing methods when they were first announced, as greater transparency in areas such as fuel consumption and emissions helps customers make better informed buying decisions,” explained Jon Wakefield, Volvo Car UK’s Managing Director.

“We are pleased that we are the first to sell a complete range of cars that meets the new testing standards,” he added.

Other brands, like Peugeot are also ahead of the curve claiming it’s already been running its own real-world fuel consumption and emissions tests which will be submitted for WLTP confirmation. Mercedes-Benz says it too will meet the September deadline with the majority of its vehicles, but because every different variant needs to be tested there could be some bottle-necking occurring. Volkswagen released a similar statement, confirming that not all of its vehicles will have been tested in time for the deadline and so some engines won’t be available in some variants for several months while testing is carried out. Skoda said it too will experience some powertrain shortages but that it would do everything possible to meet the requirements because of the customer benefit.

Some Japanese car makers are nervous, though, with many of them required to order product up to six-months in advance, meaning the technical changes take longer to filter through, unless they can sell all of their old stock before September.

What we’re likely to see in Europe is some heavy discounts on brand-new cars as car makers try to clear stock that after September won’t be available for sale unless they’ve met the WLTP protocol.

Locally, the Greens have criticised the Federal Government for its “go-slow” attitude since its draft model for light vehicle emissions standards was announced.

“After nearly three years of consultation, and all the while as pollution from the transport sector grows rapidly, the development and implementation of standards that would reduce pollution from cars have stalled under this Government,” said Green’s Senator Janet Rice.

“Since the leaking of the Government’s draft model for an Australian light vehicle fuel efficiency standard in July of last year, and the consequent media pile-on from the car industry, the Department still has no preferred option for light vehicle emissions.”

“This delay is unacceptable. It looks very much like the responsible Ministers Frydenberg and Fletcher have bowed to pressure from industry, their cheerleaders in the media and the dinosaurs on their backbench to slow down the development of these standards.”

“If this Government is serious about driving down air pollution and meeting our Paris targets, it must swiftly introduce tough mandatory pollution standards for the major car manufacturers, as recommended by the Ministerial Forum.”

However, even if Australia introduces this emissions standard it would still just about bring local emissions standards in line with those in the US, but it would lag those in the Europe which has been at Euro6 since September 2014 with the diesel version, called Euro6d. The move from Euro5 to Euro6 sees NOx emissions for diesel cars dropped from 180mg/km to 80mg/km; the NOx emissions for petrol cars under Euro6 stays at the already low 60mg/km.

In Australia, light vehicle emissions are currently set at 192g/km CO2, the emissions proposal by the Federal Government would see this dropped to 105g/km CO2 by 2025. In Europe, the CO2 emissions levels will move to a range of just 68-78g/km CO2 by 2020. So Australia, is a long way behind. In moving to reduce local emissions, it’s suggested car makers will increase the price of some vehicles by up to $1500 to pay for the technical developments in meeting the stricter targets.

Question: Is this supposed cost increase just hot air? If the car maker must meet much stricter emissions targets in Europe, why wouldn’t Australian buyers be given access to those engines here with any potential price increase spread across many markets around the world?

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober