WLTP fuel tests

How econ­omy claims have changed

Autocar - - THIS WEEK - LAWRENCE AL­LAN

The newly im­ple­mented WLTP emis­sions test has shaken up the Euro­pean car mar­ket, leav­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers rush­ing to cer­tify mod­els and drop­ping vari­ants from their ranges.

WLTP (short for World­wide har­monised Light ve­hi­cles Test Pro­ce­dure) re­placed the New Euro­pean Driv­ing Cy­cle (NEDC) test, which had been heav­ily crit­i­cised for not re­flect­ing real-world con­di­tions, on 1 Septem­ber.

What does it mean for the con­sumer? In the­ory, cars that are sold to­day will be no more or less ef­fi­cient in the real world than they were be­fore. Many buy­ing from dealer fore­courts to­day will still find cars that have only been tested un­der the old regime, but even those that have been tested un­der WLTP rules should re­turn near-iden­ti­cal fig­ures. As our re­search shows (see right), that is not the case for a lot of cars.

The changes to the test are sim­ply to pro­vide claimed fig­ures that are more rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the MPG and emis­sions the cars will pro­duce in nor­mal use. The tests will also pro­vide a rat­ing for the car’s par­tic­u­late emis­sions, such as ni­tro­gen ox­ide.

What will af­fect buy­ers, though, is that sev­eral car mak­ers have taken mod­els that won’t con­form to the new stan­dards off sale. For ex­am­ple, BMW stopped pro­duc­tion of the M3 sports saloon early, while Jaguar has slimmed down the XF range and re­moved petrol XJS en­tirely. Subaru has also ceased sell­ing diesel ve­hi­cles al­to­gether.

Some mod­els, such as the Volk­swa­gen Golf R, have had their power out­put re­duced to drop tailpipe emis­sions. Other changes are tem­po­rary. For ex­am­ple, Skoda has ceased sell­ing some Oc­tavia and Rapid vari­ants un­til at least Oc­to­ber.

Pro­duc­tion de­lays are also on the cards, caus­ing par­tic­u­lar prob­lems for the VW Group. Seat sources es­ti­mate a four-to-eight-month wait for best­selling mod­els, with sim­i­lar de­lays for VW. Buy­ers of all brands in the UK are ad­vised to check with their dealer to see which model vari­ants are still on sale, and which will face heavy de­lays.

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