VW’s recklessness has hardened the resolve of regulators
In a year when the auto-industry was rocked by the #dieselgate scandal we also learned Volkswagen distorted tests for fuel economy and CO2 emissions as well. It was not surprising; contrary to industry claims of progress on efficiency there had been no real-world progress for a third successive year.
Fortunately 2016 should see a raft of changes to reduce car and van emissions on the road and not only in the laboratory. The obsolete NEDC test will be replaced by a new one (WLTP) that is more representative of the ways cars are driven. New proposals are also imminent to strengthen the overall testing system including increasing the independence of the testing bodies, having greater consistency of approvals and introducing more effective EU-level oversight.
A Communication on Decarbonising Transport scheduled for the summer is also expected to announce a new CO2 regulation for cars and vans to be met in 2025. The key lesson from the current 95g/km regulation is to ensure that emissions reductions measured in the lab are also delivered on the road. To do this the WLTP measurements should be complemented by a new real-world CO2 test (such as the one T&E is currently developing with Peugeot Citroën) to ensure typical on-road emissions do not deviate widely from those measured in the laboratory.
The new regulation should also incentivise the supply of electric cars through a California-style mandate with trading to encourage overachievement; new market entrants; and the sale of efficient electric quadricycles (like the Renault Twizy). Europe is falling behind in the race to develop the cars of the future and the regulation can act as a powerful stimulus to ensure the European auto-industry remains at the cutting edge of powertrain technology.
New tests, new testing rules and new limits will all contribute in 2016 to creating a stronger framework to reduce car and van CO2 emissions on the road. VW’s reckless cheating has undoubtedly hardened the resolve of regulators to improve the system, and drivers and the environment shall be the beneficiaries.