AIR alliance launches new vehicle emissions ranking system

An alliance campaigning for the independent testing of cars has launched its own emissions ranking system to help drivers know how much pollution their vehicle produces.

AIR (Allow Independent Road-Testing), a not-for-profit alliance of scientists, academics and economists looking to tackle air pollution caused by cars, has introduced their new AIR Index, an independent on-road vehicle emissions test and rating system.

The AIR Index is based on real-world testing in urban environments rather than tests made by car manufacturers themselves, which take place in laboratory settings.

It is hoped that the new system will force car makers to speed up in introducing cleaner vehicles while allowing urban policymakers to make more informed decisions when introducing clean air schemes.

Nick Molden, co-founder of AIR, said: ‘The transparent publication of independent, on-road emissions testing results is the most efficient way to improve air quality.

‘The AIR Index removes the confusion among car buyers and policy makers around petrol and diesel emissions, and around testing processes.’

Many cars emit more NO2 on the road than laboratory tests suggest, AIR claim.

The AIR Index rates vehicles on how many milligrams of nitrogen oxide (NO2) they emit per kilometre when driven in urban settings, grading vehicles from A to E with A being the best and E being the worst.

It is based on new EU standards and inspired by NCAP, the independent vehicle-safety rating system developed in the 1970s which is now an industry standard used across the world.

Nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions are currently a huge focus for cities looking to improve their air quality, with many European cities such as London now introducing charges for driving in city centres based on vehicles’ NOx emissions.

However, confusion continues to exist as car buyers and policy makers are forced to rely on information provided by car makers’ own in-house tests.

According to AIR, several Euro 6 cars emit significantly more NOx on the road than their laboratory tests suggest, and they say the AIR Index will help clarify which cars are genuinely the cleanest.

Massimo Fedeli, Co-founder and Operations Director, AIR, said: ‘For the first time policy makers have the ability to improve urban air quality, using the AIR Index to control vehicle access, without penalising consumers unfairly because the vehicle that they bought in good faith is dirtier, on the road, than they were led to believe.’

Proponents of the AIR Index say it will be better than current alternative schemes such as WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Testing Procedure) and RDE (Real Driving Emissions), which are still conducted in the laboratory or only conducted on new vehicles.

AIR hope to encourage prospective car owners to check the car’s emissions rating using their index before purchasing and encourage car makers to sign up to have their cars independently tested.