Real Driving Emissions – are you ready?

Emissions Analytics was recently asked to write an article for Automotive World’s Megatrends magazine. This month’s newsletter is a summary of that article which considers the potential impact of the proposed changes to the New European Drive Cycle.

Emissions Analytics’ data resource, from tests on more than 800 vehicles, is transforming the economics of obtaining emissions data for OEMs who are tasked with understanding and acting upon the proposed legislative changes concerning Real Driving Emissions (RDE) and the move towards the World Harmonised Light Test Cycle and Procedures (WLTC/P).

The new testing system, developed by global representatives for the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe is due to be finalised in the spring of 2015. This test cycle is more representative of real-world driving and the test procedures should be more robust than those associated with the New European Drive Cycle (NEDC).

One of the reasons for the proposed change is the growing gap between the number of miles per gallon certified during the NEDC test and the fuel economy achievable by real drivers on the road which can be seen clearly below.

Using Emissions Analytics’ real-world data, the blue line on the graph below illustrates how this gap is growing, at about two percentage points per year, and is likely to continue to expand if left unchecked. With the introduction of the WLTC/P in 2017, we predict the gap will close by between half and two-thirds (shown below in green), depending on how stringent the final protocol is.

Although this will bring the European divergence closer it will not equal the USA variance, where the more stringent five-cycle system is in operation.

Nov 14 chart

Bold line: EA data 
Dashed line (historical): Other sources of data
Dashed line (future): Model based prediction by EA

The European Parliament and European Commission have proposed this new test be introduced in 2017, although there are challenges and opposition from some parts of the automotive industry that would like longer to adapt to the changes.

One of the challenges facing OEMs is the profile of the NEDC replacement, the WLTC. The International Council on Clean Transportation has estimated that the effect on the EU CO2 target value will be an increase of around 5-8%. Emissions Analytics believes the increase could be higher than this.  If nothing were changed in the targets, OEMs would need to deliver further efficiencies in their vehicles, and consumers in some countries could find themselves paying more vehicle tax.

There is a methodology under development for translating the existing NEDC results into WLTC, but this is still work-in-progress and has limitations. What is clear is that forewarning of how current vehicles perform on the test can bring significant benefits to the engineers developing the vehicles which will be on the road when the WLTC/P is adopted. This is why some manufacturers use Emissions Analytics’ data to ensure compliance and to stay competitive, benchmarking their own progress against that of their closest rivals.

In times when manufacturers are under increasing pressure to be open and honest about their vehicles’ true in-use performance, plus with the imminent legislative changes which will formalise this requirement, there has never been a greater need for a reliable and robust source of data which can offer the insight and intelligence needed.

Emissions Analytics will shortly be making their data available to the automotive sector directly via a new, subscription based software platform called RDEanalytics. More will follow on this in a later newsletter but for a sneak preview or to find out more email us now.