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Tougher car emissions tests start in EU

04 September 2017, 23:27 CET
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Tougher car emissions tests start in EU

Car emissions testing

(BRUSSELS) - New car models have to pass new and more reliable emissions tests in real driving condition as well as an improved laboratory test, before they can be driven on European roads from 1 September.

"The new emissions tests are a milestone in our ongoing work for cleaner and more sustainable cars over the coming years," said EC vice-president Jyrki Katainen: "But more remains to be done. The emissions scandal has shown that we need more independence in car testing, stronger market surveillance and the possibility for the Commission to intervene in case of wrongdoing. The Commission presented a proposal in January 2016 to achieve just that. It has been on the table since and it is high time that the European Parliament and Council adopt it. And we need to decisively pursue EU-wide efforts to foster low emissions mobility."

Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska added: "A quick shift to zero emissions vehicles is in all our interest given the public health and environmental risks at stake. And it's crucial for the car industry if it wants to remain internationally competitive. But for the time being, diesel cars remain part of our lives and we must rebuild confidence in this technology. That is why having new and more reliable tests for new cars is essential. And for cars already on the road, Member States must do their job, enforce the law and take additional steps, together with all stakeholders, to bring down emissions of the existing fleet."

The Commission says the new emissions tests will ensure more reliable results and help to rebuild confidence in the performance of new cars.

More robust and accurate emissions tests: NOx and particulate emissions, which are a major cause of air pollution, will be measured more reliably in real driving conditions (RDE test). This test will complement a new, more realistic laboratory test procedure (WLTP test) for all emissions including CO2 and fuel consumption as well as NOx and other air pollutants.

Both tests will become mandatory from September 2017 for all new car models and will be phased in for all new cars between 2018-2019.

Full overhaul of the type approval system

Once adopted, the Commission's proposal for a Regulation of January 2016 will ensure greater quality and independence of vehicle testing, more surveillance of cars already in circulation, and introduce EU oversight into the system.

Air quality standards

Member States have to comply with EU limit values for a number of pollutants, including NO2, and establish air quality plans for the zones or agglomerations where these limit values are exceeded.

Low emissions mobility

The European Strategy for low-emission mobility aims at increasing the efficiency of the transport system; speeding up the deployment of low-emission alternative energy for transport, and moving towards zero-emission vehicles. This focuses on a range of low-emissions alternative energy options for passenger cars and buses, as well as an emphasis on electrification in rail transport and biofuels in aviation, lorries and coaches. The Commission also plans to adopt an Action Plan for Alternative Fuels Infrastructure to enhance the broadest use of alternative fuels in Europe by November 2017.

In parallel, the Commission is closely following Member States' efforts regarding polluting cars already in circulation.

Following the revelations in September 2015 that the Volkswagen Group used defeat device software to circumvent emissions standards for certain air pollutants, the Commission invited all Member States, as the responsible authorities for market surveillance and enforcement of the type-approval legislation, to carry out the necessary investigations into the real emission levels of vehicles on their territory, and to ensure compliance with EU law. The Commission has supported their work by developing a common testing methodology to screen for defeat devices altering the results of laboratory tests and ensure consistency of results of national investigations. It has published guidance to help Member States' authorities assess whether a car manufacturer is using defeat devices or other strategies that lead to higher vehicle emissions outside of the test cycle and analyse whether they are technically justified.

The Commission opened infringement procedures against eight Member States for breaching EU type approval legislation in December 2016 and May 2017.

New mandatory car emissions tests - background guide

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