The revised test is likely to go into effect starting around 2025, the source said.
The European Union plans to strengthen its method of measuring carbon dioxide emissions from plug-in hybrid cars, two sources familiar with the matter said, after criticism that current tests, produce results up to four times lower than real-world emissions. This new methodology may mean some carmakers, which by 2021 sell almost as many plug-in hybrids in Europe as battery-powered vehicles (BEVs), will have to sell more BEVs to meet EU emissions targets and avoid large fines. The revised test is likely to go into effect starting around 2025, the source said.
Data from fuel consumption meters – which under EU law must be built into new cars from 2021 – will be put into testing, they said. This would show a more realistic picture of how much hybrid cars still rely on their internal combustion engines as opposed to electric batteries.
“The utility factor will change,” Petr Dolejsi, director of sustainable transport of the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) told Reuters, referring to the average estimate of how far hybrid drives are in electric mode.
“We’re starting to collect data from vehicles … it’s an ongoing process.”
A European Commission official said amendments to the Euro 6 pollutant emissions implementation rules that revise the testing approach – called the World Light Vehicle Testing Procedure (WLTP) – to determine utility factors based on real -life data from fuel consumption meters were being discussed, but they could not provide further details.
The amendments will next be discussed by the Motor Vehicles Working Group, comprised of stakeholders from industry, government, and consumer associations, on Feb. 9, the official said, with results expected this year.
Changing testing to better reflect real-world emissions supports a growing consensus among environmental groups and regulators that plug-in hybrids are not as green as thought and should not be treated equally with battery electric vehicles when designing policies to promote electrification.
REALITY VERSUS THEORY
Carmakers, still restoring their image after the 2015 Dieselgate scandal in which some used illegal software to cheat emissions tests, often released their emission test results earlier in the year. Official figures were not published by the European Commission until later.
Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Renault have said they have reached their 2021 targets, supported by record electric vehicle sales.
Under WLTP testing implemented last year, carmakers pay inspectors to oversee them conducting standardized tests for all types of their vehicles – from internal combustion engines to hybrids to electric batteries. This is done in their lab to produce an average figure of carbon dioxide emissions per kilometer.
The target for 2021 is around 95g CO2/km, varying slightly as each carmaker’s target is adjusted depending on the average weight of their vehicle.
The WLTP testing process is designed based on actual data on how and where people tend to drive, from distance and speed to road type – a significant improvement over previous tests based exclusively on theoretical models.
But studies by environmental think tanks like the International Council for Clean Transport (ICCT) show that WLTP testing is far from reality, especially for hybrid cars, which rely on combustion engines about twice as much as test results show.
The ICCT study uses actual emissions data from more than 100,000 plug-in hybrids from sources such as the company’s car database or consumer fuel tracking websites.
Reasons for ICCT results include the fact that plug -in hybrids are charged less frequently and have a shorter all -electrical range than the test assumes. The real -world deviation is higher for company cars, perhaps because drivers have less incentive to charge the vehicle – a cheaper option than refueling – if they themselves don’t pay the price.
Although the EU has voted to require carmakers to build fuel consumption meters into their cars starting in 2021, it remains unclear whether this data will be included in emissions testing.
“Emissions are still declining every year, and that is a real success,” said Peter Mock, managing director of ICCT Europe. “But the big problem is hybrids – that’s what’s cheating.”
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