Message from the Secretary General – April 2017

Right now, Europe’s auto makers are preparing for the introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure, better known by its acronym WLTP. WLTP is a more rigorous laboratory test for measuring pollutant and CO2 emissions from passenger cars that will come into force later this year.

From September 2017, WLTP will officially apply to new types of cars, so all vehicle models that are introduced on the European market for the first time. One year later, from September 2018, the new lab test will also apply to all car registrations in the European Union.

WLTP will introduce much more realistic testing conditions, including higher speeds, more representative driving behaviour and stricter measurement conditions, than the current lab test (NEDC). Because of all these improvements, WLTP will provide a more accurate basis for calculating a car’s fuel consumption and emissions. This will ensure that lab measurements better match the on-road performance of a car.

The automobile industry recognises that the NEDC test cycle, which was designed in the 1980s, is now obsolete. It is for this reason that, for many years now, we have been actively contributing to the development of WLTP. As an industry, we believe that manufacturers, policy makers and consumers alike need the more robust WLTP test. Moreover, WLTP will also be an essential measure to win back the trust of our customers.

The new test will make some much needed improvements to the way cars are tested in the EU, but its introduction is also likely to raise questions among consumers. As an industry, we therefore want to proactively communicate about WLTP by providing the necessary background information. That’s why ACEA launched a new consumer-focused website earlier this week to explain the new car emissions test:

This website explains the benefits of the new test, examines the impact of WLTP on the consumer and presents policy recommendations for a smooth introduction. Through a series of educational infographics, the new website answers the most common questions about the WLTP test in a clear and simple way.

Besides setting out the benefits of WLTP, providing a transition timeline and explaining the differences between the new and old test, the website also addresses pressing consumer concerns related to vehicle taxation and fuel consumption. Indeed, the switch to WLTP for the testing of passenger cars will have significant implications for consumers. So above all, WLTP will require a proper implementation. Key will be providing transparent consumer information, but policy makers must also ensure that the shift to WLTP does not impact vehicle taxation by increasing costs for motorists.

When it comes to consumer information, one might come across two different values for the same car during the switch from the old NEDC test to WLTP (so already after September this year). Clearly, this risks being quite confusing and would make it difficult to compare cars. A very important issue therefore is how WLTP will be integrated in car labelling and other consumer information.

To maintain transparency and comparability, the EU and its member states should go for a ‘one-shot’ introduction of WLTP, communicating only WLTP-based values in consumer information as of 1 January 2019. This also means that member states will need to implement WLTP in a harmonised way across the board. The European Commission has already started providing guidance and recommendations on this to the national governments, something the industry welcomes.

Finally, most EU member states currently apply CO2 taxation to cars, based on the CO2 values from the lab test. WLTP will result in a higher CO2 value for a specific vehicle compared to NEDC, simply because it is more rigorous than the old test. But in the end, a vehicle’s performance is simply not affected by the transition to WLTP. So, national governments ought to make sure that the switch to WLTP will not lead to increased taxation of the very same vehicle.

To address these issues, and other important ones, the new website also outlines policy recommendations for ensuring a smooth switch to the more accurate lab test. I hope that will prove to be a valuable source of information to you!

Erik Jonnaert
Secretary General of ACEA

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