EU Commission wary of inflated CO2 levels in WLTP testing

31 July 2018

31 July 2018

A joint letter from two European Commissioners has suggested that WLTP figures could be inflated by some manufacturers to improve their chances of meeting post-2020 CO2 targets.

Vehicle manufacturers have to ensure that every new car sold from 1 September is compliant with the new testing procedure. For some, this means re-engineering their models to meet the stricter emissions standards that come as a result, especially through the real-world emissions (RDE) portion of the new test.

However, with the European Commission beginning to vote through stricter CO2 targets that would apply from 2020, there are claims that manufacturers are already looking at ways to use the new test to their advantage.

The thoughts come from a joint letter by EU Commissioners Miguel Arias Canete and Elzbieta Bienkowska. It states: ′Through data collected from authorities n Member States and assessed by my colleagues from the Joint Research Centre, it has been detected that manufacturers may use the transition from the old European Driving Cycle (NEDC) test procedure to WLTP to inflate their WLTP emission levels in 2020. They could do so without an impact on their NEDC emission levels which will be used for target compliance up to 2020.

Inflated WLTP emissions in 2020 would result in less strict CO2 emission targets applying in 2021. As this also acts as the starting point for the 2025 and 2030 targets, such inflation would, in turn, lead to lower real-life emission reductions in the target years.’

The Commission has proposed that the starting point for determining future targets should be calculated on the basis of ′WLTP values measured’ and not those declared by manufacturers. Secondly, data on the WLTP measurements of vehicles registered in 2020 needs to be systematically collected, and thirdly, support of a correct implementation of the WLTP regulations by Member States with the EU Commission monitoring proper enforcement.

Industry committed

In response, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) says: ′Clearly, the issue of artificially increasing WLTP figures is not an industry-wide problem. Indeed, increasing CO2 emissions on purpose to inflate the WLTP baseline would not only be counterproductive in the current CO2 discussions but may also hinder a manufacturer’s competitiveness. In fact, the majority of EU member states have a taxation scheme based on CO2 emissions and higher CO2 emissions would, therefore, result in higher costs for the customer – making such vehicles less attractive.

′Manufacturers are also competing directly and fairly on fuel consumption values (which are directly related to CO2 emissions). Therefore, a manufacturer that would over-declare CO2 values could dramatically lose their competitiveness and market share, which is in no one’s interest.’

Such a move would also cause issues surrounding the taxation of vehicles, with Autovista Group highlighting how WLTP figures could cause prices in certain markets to rise.

ACEA has said it is committed to engaging further with the EU Commission and other stakeholders to help make the current regulation even more robust if necessary, and that it ′generally agrees’ with the three solutions proposed in the joint letter.