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MEPs push for real-world car emissions testing by 2017

Environment MEPs propose to bring in real world testing sooner and to introduce fuel-consumption meters to encourage efficient driving

Environment MEPs have called for real driving emissions test procedures for all vehicles to be in place by 2017 with a specific limit set for nitrogen dioxide in addition to the existing NOx limit.

The European Parliament building in Brussels, Belgium

The European Parliament building in Brussels, Belgium

The European Parliament’s Environment Committee yesterday (September 24) adopted a series of proposals on real-world driving emissions, which would see the new test procedure enforced nine months earlier than the previous proposal for it to be in place by September 2017.

Emissions of road vehicles are currently regulated in the EU based on tests carried out in laboratories, but there have been repeated calls for these tests to better reflect actual driving on the road amid suggestions that lab testing underestimates car pollution levels.

As such, a real-world emissions test procedure is currently being developed at EU level in the hope of final adoption by the end of the year after the Member States approved Commission proposals in May (see AirQualityNews.com story).

The vote by environment MEPs yesterday by 66 in favour to just one against proposes several amendments to the Commission’s original proposals, however, and comes as several EU countries –including the UK – have announced investigations into possible manipulation of diesel emissions testing by carmakers in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal (see AirQualityNews.com story).

The Committee said that the real driving test for all vehicles type-approved or registered from 2015 should be in place by 2017, with a ‘conformity factor’ reflecting only the possible tolerances of the procedure.

In addition, the MEPs suggested the Commission’s currently-proposed procedure insufficiently exploits the potential to reduce fuel consumption issues, and called for the introduction of mandatory fuel-consumption meter devices along with gear-shift indicators to give information to motorists about efficient driving behaviour.

They proposed that these requirements should come into force from 2018 for type-approval of new models, and from 2019 for all new vehicles.

NO2

Also approved by the Committee yesterday was a proposal for the European Commission to set a separate limit for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in addition to the exiting nitrogen oxide (NOx) limit.

This, they said, is because modern diesel vehicles emit high and increasing amounts of NO2 as a share of total NOx emissions “posing a new challenge to air quality in affected urban areas”.

An agreement must now be reached for a first reading of real world driving test proposals with the European Council, which would then be put to a vote in the EU Parliament and Council.

Speaking after the vote yesterday, German MEP Albert Dess, who is leading on the proposals, said: “Public health depends on good air quality, especially in cities where many people live. It may be influenced by car emissions and other pollutants.

“Today the environment committee has shown its strong support for the completion of the real driving emissions procedure. It is very important that road vehicles comply with tough emission laws not only in the laboratory but also in the real world.”

VW scandal

Chair of the EU Parliament’s Environment Committee, Italian MEP Giovanni La Via, also said today that the VW scandal needed investigating and said it was “clear that there were mistakes, also at the European level”.

He also called for a European agency or body to oversee real-world checks on diesel car emissions – either an existing EU body “or something different” in order to “better ensure that consumers get the real picture on what they are about to buy”.

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