There is a significant change underway that could have a major impact on which vehicles fleets buy in the years to come. However, this development – to us – doesn’t seem to be getting quite the level of attention it deserves.

What is this change? It is the arrival of the new EU fuel consumption testing regime – the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP). This replaces the outgoing New European Driving Cycle test which, in several important respects, has passed its usefulness. WLTP is designed to provide more accurate results that are much closer to real world figures and, most experts believe, will result in official fuel economy and CO2 figures rising by about 30%.

The adoption of WLTP is just starting to get underway and the first manufacturers are releasing their figures. By September of this year, all cars on sale must have certification and, from the start of 2019, will have to use WLTP figures in all their marketing and promotional material.

This creates immediate issues for fleets. Firstly, fuel consumption and CO2 output are two key parameters in drawing up choice lists. But, over the next few months, you are going to need to make sure that you are comparing like-for-like and not measuring NEDC numbers for one car against WLTP for another. Where possible, our advice is to use the WLTP figures, which are likely to be much more accurate.

Secondly, official CO2 figures have a direct impact on the tax that you and your drivers pay on company cars. It has been announced, subject to consultation, that WLTP will be used for Benefit in Kind and Vehicle Excise Duty from April 2020. While this is more than two years away, it is well within the typical life cycle of fleet vehicles that you are buying now. You need to be thinking about the potential impact.

Our overall view is that WLTP is a very positive development, giving fleets access to fuel consumption and CO2 information that is much more accurate – but it will require some management and we are already helping our customers through this process.

Shaun Sadlier is head of consulting at Arval