As of September 1 2017, new car models will have to pass new and more reliable emissions tests in real driving conditions as well as an improved laboratory test before they can be driven on European roads, the European Commission said on August 31.
European Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, Jyrki Katainen said: “The new emissions tests are a milestone in our ongoing work for cleaner and more sustainable cars over the coming years. 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,” Katainen said.
European Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “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 new emissions tests will ensure more reliable results and help to rebuild confidence in the performance of new cars, the Commission statement said.
The tests represent one of several important steps in the Commission’s work for a clean, sustainable and competitive car industry, the EC said.
It said that NOx and particulate emissions, which are a major cause of air pollution, will be measured more reliably in real driving conditions. This test will complement a new, more realistic laboratory test procedure 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.
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, the EC said.
EU 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.
The Commission said that 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 EU countries’ 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 EU countries, 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 said that it 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 EU countries’ 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 European Commission opened infringement procedures against eight member states for breaching EU type approval legislation in December 2016and May 2017. It continues to monitor whether EU law in this area is being correctly enforced by member states.
The EC said that it also ensures that competition rules are respected and will continue to do so, in addition to ensuring that consumers are treated fairly.
The Commission is also working to ensure the application of EU air quality rules, it said. In this regard, it has launched infringement procedures against 16 member states in breach of ambient NO2 limit values.
(Photo: Graham Briggs)