Carmakers push the limits on new emissions test
01 November 2016
Author: Tom Webster
Leaked documents have revealed that car manufacturers are pushing for new petrol-engine cars to be allowed to emit over 100 times more particulates than is currently permitted in the official new tests that are due to come in next year, according to campaigners.
Campaign group Transport and Environment says that a draft proposal from the European Commission shows new petrol cars would be allowed to emit 50% more particulates by the time the legislation comes into force in 2018. However, countries such as Spain and Sweden are also said to be pushing for a delay of a year for the introduction of the new law.
Currently, petrol engines are permitted to emit 0.005g/km of particulate matter, but Transport and Environment claims that the car industry is pushing for this to be raised by 300% in certain circumstances.
BusinessCar understands that the permitted variation to the conformity would apply to the new Real Driving Emissions (RDE) section of the new test, and that the manufacturers are pushing for the leeway because of the unpredictability of the on-road element and any discrepancies that might emerge as a result of the equipment. The laboratory element of the test will remain unaffected, and manufacturers will have to conform to the limits precisely.
Transport and Environment claims that a petrol particular filter will virtually eliminate the emission of particulate matter, reducing the level by as much as 100 times. This filter would cost as little as ?25, according to the campaign group.
Florent Grelier, clean vehicles engineer at Transport and Environment, said: "A cheap and effective solution exists in the gasoline particulate filter, but carmakers want to relax the test conditions so they can save the ?25 that would fix the problem for good."
However, BusinessCar understands that re-engineering an engine to fit a particulate filter could result in the overall cost being more than the ?25 for the part. A small number of new petrol cars currently fit a particulate filter, but they are firmly in the minority.
"Conformity factors do not mean a relaxation of Euro6 limits, and they do not mean cars are allowed to emit more than the legal limits. The additional requirements of RDE, which industry welcomes, are significant because of the many and sometimes extreme variations of real driving conditions," said Tamzen Isacsson, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders' director of communications and international.
"Given the newness of the technology required to measure these small levels of pollutants, the Commission has allowed a margin for error within the functioning of the test equipment. This margin will be reviewed annually as the technology - both in-car and testing - develops."
The new test, the World Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedures (WLTP) is due to bring in an element of real-world testing for the first time, although the on-road element has still been criticised for being unrepresentative of normal driving.