Car manufacturers seek to delay WLTP test

European carmakers are pushing to delay by three years new rules that would strengthen the ways car fuel economy and emissions are measured.

The European Commission plans to introduce a new test cycle in 2017 – the World Light Duty Test Procedure (WLTP) – which would close vehicle-testing loopholes such as pre-charging the car battery; using unrealistic vehicle weight and rolling and aerodynamic resistance.

It wants to introduce the more stringent standards by September 2017, but Reuters has reported an industry paper saying carmakers “cannot envisage vehicle testing beginning before 1 January 2020″.

Carmakers are also calling for an extra year’s delay before all new cars use the new test, according to the paper from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) – of which BMW, Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler are members.

Recent research by T&E shows that fuel-efficiency figures achieved by drivers on the road are on average 38% poorer than official figures claimed by carmakers. This divergence has increased from 15% in 2008 when new CO2 rules were introduced.

It casts a critical light on the latest emissions figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) last month which claims that carbon emissions of the average new car have fallen for the 17th consecutive year to an all-time low. In 2014, new cars averaged 124.6 g/km, beating last year’s record average by 2.9% and 2007 levels by 24%.

Greg Archer, clean vehicles manager at T&E, said: “These figures need to be treated with extreme caution. Most or all of the measured improvement is being delivered through manipulating tests, not delivering real-world improvements. We need the new test to be introduced without further delay.”

EU governments and the Commission met last week to discuss the date of the new test’s introduction and which techniques manufacturers will be allowed to use when testing vehicles under the new rules. Member states now have until 29 May to submit their positions, and a final decision will be taken by the EU Climate Change Committee in autumn.

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