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Auto industry reacts to new real driving emissions testing standards

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has given its backing for step 1 of real driving emissions (RDE) testing to commence from September 2017 for new vehicle types.

EU member states have voted in favour of a tough compromise text on RDE with testing standards that will be extremely difficult for automobile manufacturers to reach in a short space of time.
As a direct consequence, a substantial number of diesel models will have to be phased out earlier than planned. As well as having serious economic implications, this will make it more challenging for manufacturers to meet the 2021 targets for CO2 emission reductions, since diesel engines emit 15-20% less CO2 than comparable petrol engines.

The fact that driving under a laboratory test cycle is different to real-life driving conditions is well-known. When the Euro 6 emissions limits were introduced in 2007, only the laboratory test was available. The purpose of the new RDE test procedure is precisely to bridge the gap between the current regulated testing of emissions using an out-dated laboratory test and the very different conditions experienced on the road.

Recognising that emissions are different on the road, the ‘conformity factor’ is introduced as a ‘not to exceed limit’ that takes into account a margin for error and variations of the measurement equipment. Accordingly, emissions that are the product of the driving conditions that the average driver will encounter will be below this ‘not to exceed limit’, because in real life, the worst-case scenario of driving is extremely rare and does not occur on every journey.

“RDE testing of cars on real roads under realistic driving conditions will be a new addition to the existing test requirements, making Europe the only region in the world to implement such real world testing for cars,” stated ACEA Secretary General, Erik Jonnaert.

Over the past years, policy initiated by the EU institutions has focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in the most stringent targets for CO2 emissions from passenger cars in the world. “The automobile industry is ready to engage with Europe’s policy makers to examine how to reconcile higher air quality standards with ambitious climate change policies,” stated Jonnaert.