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New WLTP test is good news for motorists

Wed 29 August 2018 | Back to news list


(LowCVP comment) A lot has changed since the ‘New European Drive Cycle’ (NEDC) official fuel consumption and CO2 emissions standardised laboratory test was introduced in 1992. Back then, the Ford Escort was the UK’s best-selling car and it would be eight years before the first mass-produced hybrid, the Toyota Prius, launched in Europe (and another 18 until the electric Nissan Leaf appeared). So it is perhaps not surprising that the 25-year-old NEDC test is now considered somewhat out of date. 

A change is therefore well overdue – which, thankfully, is now taking place. Step forward the brand new official global laboratory ‘Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure’ (or WLTP) which is designed to reward drivers with a more representative indication of the fuel economy and emissions they might achieve in the real world, helping to better inform and restore confidence among consumers along the way.

From September 1st, virtually all new cars on sale must be WLTP tested; with WLTP becoming the official information for a new car’s fuel consumption, air pollutants and (for electric and plug-in hybrids) electric range and electricity consumption from January 1st 2019. We will however continue to use a car’s NEDC CO2 emission value for Road Tax (VED) and Company Car Tax (BIK) until April 2020, albeit that this data too will be derived from the more robust WLTP testing procedures. 

This is undoubtably a very positive move that, if communicated properly, will do a lot to overcome the scepticism and confusion currently felt by drivers. It will empower them to make a more informed and environmentally-aware decision about the type of car they buy and technology they choose, with a better understanding of the fuel economy, electric range, running costs and confidence in low emissions being produced in the real-world. 

Of course, this only makes a difference if consumers are fully aware of the ‘improved’ WLTP figures becoming available - and understand how to use them. Otherwise, the data risks being treated with the same disdain as the previous NEDC numbers. It is also easy to see how consumers could become confused from now to the end of the year, when both NEDC and WLTP figures will be available. 

We would therefore like to stress the crucial role that all manufacturers, dealers and the media together need to play in presenting this new information and the benefits it brings as clearly as possible to consumers. LowCVP is working with the Department for Transport and its members to help make this happen, but this requires the full support of the wider automotive and media industries. 

WLTP has a vital role in encouraging motorists to move to more environmentally friendly, economical, lower emission cars; and is one of the ‘quick wins’ for accelerating the transition to low emission road transport. This must not now be undermined by consumer confusion or lack of confidence.

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