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FULL ARTICLE | EDITORIAL 
WLTP | Sea change ahead  
Peter Schmidt | Editor

Published: Fri, 31st August 2018 13:42:11 GMT
 

VW tiguan production Wolfsburg WLTP

"At long last, the change-over to a more realistic value for the fuel-consumption of new cars is not coming a moment too soon. 

Starting tomorrow, September 1 2018, all new cars sold in EU Europe must come with an official fuel-economy value measured under the new WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure) method. 

Thatís a great victory for common sense. 

The previously provided fuel-economy value, measured under the ancient NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) scheme, was not worth the paper it was written on. 

It is safe to say that cast-in-stone NEDC fuel-economy numbers compared with the real-world fuel economy accomplished by Joe Public were miles apart. 

Countless car tests reveal differences of between 30 to 40 per cent between real driving and pie in the sky NEDC consumption numbers. 

Thankfully, itís all over now. 

Tomorrow heralds a new dawn on this issue. 

Evidently, not everybody is equally passionate about the fuel-economy of their car. 

Allowing for the fact that generally heavier and thirstier than average SUV-Crossovers remain among the most fashionable motors money can buy or lease, today fuel-economy clearly isnít the major concern it once was. 

Thatís hardly surprising. Itís probably due to todayís cheap fuel era. 

Also, with trendy fashion deeply held prudence sometimes goes out of the window. 

A case in point, todayís trendy SUVs are now among the autoindustryís most profitable products. 

Reality is that we live in an imperfect world. 

Because of necessity even the more realistic new WLTP values are derived mainly from lab tests. 

Thatís complemented for the first time by some meaningful input from real world driving. 

Not perfect, of course, but todayís best possible real-world solution.

For once, spare a thought for the carmakers. 

Thanks to this EU directive, to test under more real-life WLTP conditions, the carmakers are forced to issue each and every model and derivative in their car range with a new WLTP consumption number. 

Evidently, gearbox choice, 2WD or 4WD and even tyre size all have an influence on these fuel-economy numbers. 

No wonder then that some larger carmakers have not completed these tests for each and every derivative in their range. 

Fact is that those derivatives still without a WLTP number cannot be sold. 

In consequence, quoted delivery times for some of those hitherto untested models will be as long as it takes to complete these new fuel economy tests for these models. 

Conceivably, partly because of these short term supply bottlenecks, September and October car registrations in EU Europe could be handicapped because of it. 

Just yesterday VW said: ďThe company will be very close to achieving full availability for the entire [WLTP certified] range of vehicles in approximately three monthsĒ. 

Experts in and outside the autoindustry are united in the view that the new mandatory WLTP fuel consumption - CO2 emissions - will not be perfect. 

Nothing is. But on balance they are the best we have. 

In a world where almost everything is relative and perfection is more often than not little more than wishful thinking, the move to WLTP is a massive step into the right direction. 

Not so good for the autoindustry, but one of the few hurrah-type positive changes for todayís motoring public. 

There is also a price to be paid. Where applicable, vehicle benefit in kind (BIK) taxation is based on vehicle CO2 emissions. 

So be prepared to pay more tax for the private use of your company car because CO2 emissions measured under WLTP will be markedly higher.   
 

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