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European Union Set To Adopt Tougher Vehicle Emissions Standards + Testing Rules

The European Union is set to adopt tougher vehicle emissions standards and testing rules, according to recent reports. The new testing rules are intended to provide results that are closer to actual real-world driving conditions.

The new standards and rules are now expected to go into effect in 2017 — after being approved by the European Commission’s vice president, Frans Timmermans.

Car exhaust

These new testing rules will replace the currently used “New European Drive Cycle” (NEDC) protocol — which are absurdly unrealistic and “highly optimistic.” This is the primary reason, reportedly, that European fuel-economy numbers for specific models are pretty much always a lot higher than those released by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s testing process.

As it stands, emissions tests are almost always done in laboratory settings, so it’s not entirely clear whether the “real-world-like” testing standards will be done out of the lab or just refer to a changed process.

Leading car manufacturers in Europe have been working to delay the implementation of the new standards, claiming that they need more time to comply with regulations. Supporters of the change argue that the manufacturers are working behind the scenes to try to nix them altogether, and that’s the reason for the desire for delay.

The UK’s Guardian provides a bit more:

Studies have shown that lab techniques to measure car emissions can easily be gamed with techniques such as taping up doors and windows to minimise air resistance, driving on unrealistically smooth roads, and testing at improbably high temperatures.

Campaigners say that car makers also use tricks such as programming vehicles to go into a low emissions mode when their front wheels are spinning and their back wheels are stationary, as happens in such lab experiments.

According to research by the International Council on Clean Transportation last year, actual nitrogen oxide emissions from cars are seven times higher than the 80mg/km standard, with some models running at 22 times above the recommended limit. Only one car out of 16 met the 80g target.

(Which means that) around one third of all nitrogen oxide pollution comes from road transport – mostly diesel – and in urban areas concentrations can rise as high as 64%, European Environment Agency figures indicate.


Certainly good examples of the issues at hand. The system is being gamed to a substantial degree — shaking things up could likely do some good, and get reality and official figures closer inline.

It’s worth noting that the now-scheduled 2017 date for implementation implies that car manufacturers will have to alter many of the models that they currently have under development in order to pass the EU’s standards under the new testing procedures.

Everything with regard to the new standards is currently expected to be legally finalized by September of this year.

Image Credit: Exhaust via Wiki CC

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James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.


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