RAC Cars News


EU Taking Steps To Reduce Emissions Even Further

By raccars Published

The already much beleaguered auto manufacturing industry is likely to face further hurdles thanks to planned new EU emissions regulations. Current guidelines compelling manufacturers to aim for range-wide average emissions of 130g/km, have already changed the face of auto technology, but the EU is planning to go a step further, seeking a 95g/km average by 2020.

While at one time performance and styling were the main factors influencing customers' choice of car, in the last few years, efficiency has become the priority. Under EU regulations, manufacturers could be forced to see that their range-wide average consumption reaches 106mpg by 2025. The big brands have been taking huge leaps in fuel economy technology for some time now, in traditional combustion engines in addition to electric vehicle and hybrid formats. However the planned new regulations will be more stringent still.

The industry is well-prepared to face such challenges, particularly the mass-market European companies, with new vehicles, such as the VW XL1, claiming more than 150mpg. At the same time, the EU is planning to adopt a new fuel economy testing regime, the WLTP (World Light Duty Test Procedure), which could make targets harder to achieve. Luxury brands are expected to have more difficulty meeting targets due to their more complex features.

The new regulations will require further investment from an industry which has already faced huge expenditure to build lighter cars with more sophisticated safety features and powertrains, yet at the same time, have been forced to reduce customer prices to maintain sales. Niche manufacturers producing fewer than 1,000 units annually benefit from exemption to the new rules.

Currently, the EU measures fuel efficiency via a combined cycle test in laboratory conditions, but this form of testing has been criticised as unrealistic compared to real world driving conditions. The WLTP has been created with the aid of the United Nations, to return more realistic fuel economy statistics in real-world performance conditions. The EU sees this as a matter of some urgency and is hoping to see the WLTP become law by 2017.

However, the EU is providing incentives to compliance in the form of a credits system, whereby for the sale of every car returning figures of sub-50g/km, this will be considered equal to 3.5 unit sales towards the brand's total. This takes effect from this year to help manufacturers meet the current target of 95g/km and will fall to a credit of 1.3 cars by 2020.

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