European Commission proposal currently being finalised and is likely to go to vote in second half of 2015
The European Commission is currently finalising a proposal to introduce a new vehicle emissions testing procedure, which will â€œallow proper assessment of the vehicles in real drivingâ€, a spokesperson has confirmed.
Sources in Brussels had suggested that Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans was seeking to block the proposals, but a spokesperson for the Commission confirmed yesterday (February 3) that plans for a new testing procedure are currently being finalised.
It is hoped that more stringent testing of cars based on real-world driving, which is thought to have support from a number of Member States, will help force car manufacturers to further reduce air pollution emissions from their road vehicles.
Requirements currently exist for vehicles to be tested for levels of air pollution emissions in laboratories through the New European Driving Cycle. However, real-world driving tests of vehicles have often shown higher levels of air pollution emissions as these tests better replicate how motorists use their vehicles.
A Commission spokesperson told airqualitynews.com yesterday: â€œThe Commission is committed to reduce harmful pollutants. The Commission is finalising a proposals to introduce a new emissions testing procedure which will allow proper assessment of the vehicles in real driving.â€
Once the proposal is agreed, it will then go to the EUâ€™s Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles. The Commission will then enter into further discussions before a vote on the proposal, expected in the second half of 2015. If agreed, any changes would then likely come into force from 2017.
Conservative MEP for South West England and rapporteur for the EU air quality package, Julie Girling, said: â€œWe welcome the principle of real world emissions testing but the devil is in the detail. This has been a long time coming and it remains to be seen whether it will be effective in reducing pollutants within a time frame relevant to the NEC Directive.â€
The UK motor industry welcomed the EUâ€™s work to improve emissions testing, but cautioned that no test would ever be able to account for the â€œinfinite variables involved in real world drivingâ€.
Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), said: â€œWhen the current New European Driving Cycle was introduced, it was designed as laboratory test to benchmark emissions data between vehicles to help inform consumer buying decisions. It was not intended to represent performance out on the road.
â€œSMMT accepts this process is no longer suitable and has been working closely with vehicle manufacturers and regulators to develop new test cycles that can be consistently applied and more accurately reflect on-road performance under normal conditions of use. The automotive industry continues to invest billions of pounds in reducing the environmental impact of vehicles and real world testing will highlight this.â€
He added: â€œHowever, no test will ever be able to account for the infinite variables involved in real world driving: driving style, load carried and vehicle maintenance, along with traffic, weather and road conditions will all continue to affect vehicle efficiency.â€
Quizzed by MEPs in December, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA)â€™s Klaus Land suggested that Europeâ€™s car industry would support more stringent real-world testing of vehicle emissions, if the same stringency for tests are legally defined across the board to ensure consistency (see airqualitynews.com story).
As such, Mr Land â€“ of luxury car manufacturer Daimler AG â€“ said ACEA had tabled its own proposal for Real Driving Emissions tests with the European Commission, to be brought in on more cautious â€˜2-stepâ€™ approach from 2020, in order to give time for the necessary â€œmassiveâ€ hardware changes at car manufacturing plants.
The Commission, however, is thought to be seeking implementation of a new testing procedure sooner than ACEAâ€™s proposal for 2020.