European Parliament Allows Car Emissions Test Update

| Europe, Brussels
Next step: RDE Test Hearing Feb 23, 2016

Next: RDE Test Hearing Feb 23, 2016

The European Parliament at the 18-21 January plenary session in Strasbourg, paved the way for the introduction of a Real Driving Emissions (RDE) procedure in order to bring down NOx emissions from cars, effectively approving a transitional relaxation of emissions limits. “We have avoided uncertainties, because industry now has strict but sustainable deadlines to meet. In Europe, we will have better air quality for our citizens without losing jobs”, said Environment Committee chair Giovanni La Via (EPP, IT).

A Parliamentary press release issued December 14 explained a new RDE procedure has been designed to allow for a more realistic testing of car emissions, by using a portable device and performing the test on the road. The current laboratory-based procedure suffers from a number of loopholes, which are exploited by carmakers to brand their products as cleaner than they really are. However, Environment Committee MEPs vetoed it because it “would undermine the enforcement of existing EU standards”.

That veto has now been overturned. The closely contested vote clears the way for the European Commission to go ahead with the second RDE package. Two more are to be tabled in order to complete the process.

On 23 February, the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) will hold a public hearing on RDE tests to inform ENVI on the development of these new testing procedures, in the context of the Committee’s ongoing work on the reduction of pollutant emissions from road vehicles. Chaired by Giovanni La Via, this hearing will host speakers representing industry, consumers and research with a view to increasing understanding of the issues at stake.

Background: second RDE package

The second RDE package, approved by the Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles (TCMV) – bringing together national experts – on 28 October 2015, seeks to establish quantitative RDE requirements to limit the tailpipe emissions of light passenger and commercial (Euro 6) vehicles.

The proposed requirements are to be introduced in two steps:

  • as a first step, car manufacturers would have to bring down the discrepancy to a “conformity factor” of a maximum of 2.1 (110%) for new models by September 2017 (and for new vehicles by September 2019), and
  • as a second step, this discrepancy would be brought down to a factor of 1.5 (50%), taking account of technical margins of error, by January 2020 for all new models (and by January 2021 for all new cars). A conformity factor for the number of particles (PN) remains to be determined.

Matthias Maedge, recently appointed as NGVA Europe’s Secretary General, comments from Brussels:

“Following the entry into force of a more accurate testing method next year, new models would be allowed to emit NOx, in the case of diesel, at a rate of 168 milligrams per kilometre, despite an EU limit of 80 mg/km. The emissions for petrol/CNG would be 20 mg lower.”

“We expect this decision to have a positive impact on CNG cars and vans, as the OEMs would basically need to install SCR systems on all new diesel models to meet the limits. As these systems are costly, it may devour the current price differential and important mass market models in the smaller and medium segments may not be offered as diesel versions anymore. CNG will play an even stronger role to bring down CO2 emissions”, Maedge added.

(Source: European Commission, European Parliament, NGVA Europe)

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