real driving emissions

Real Driving Emissions – How REAL is it?

With the recent Volkswagen scandal focussing the world’s attention on the air quality problems associated with diesel cars, campaigners for clean air have expressed dismay over the EU’s decision not to impose stricter rules for testing new cars on the road. However, Emissions Analytics data shows that full compliance with the Euro 6 limits on oxides of nitrogen (NOx) is already being achieved by some vehicles, and thinks that the industry is on course to clean up dirty diesels.

What is interesting to note from the graph below is that of the 400+ vehicles tested by Emissions Analytics, only one Euro 5 car met the Euro 5 NOx limit, whereas four Euro 6 vehicles have already met the more challenging 0.08g/km Euro 6 regulation. The spread of NOx levels has also reduced in absolute terms with Euro 6, although proportionately the spread is similar to the Euro 5s before them. It is also abundantly clear that the majority of cars we have tested have failed to meet the regulations in real-world driving, with the average NOx levels four times more than they were certified as emitting.


The introduction of a Real Driving Emissions test (RDE) is set to reduce this divergence between laboratory results and real-world driving. Yet the announcement of the Conformity Factors last week, which set the levels of NOx vehicles are permitted to achieve during RDE, have been criticised by many as being too lenient. Our data shows that 36% of Euro 6 diesels have already met the 0.168g/km implied by the 0.08g/km limit plus the Conformity Factor of 2.1 that will come in from 2017 onwards and apply until 2020/1. However, taking into account the test-to-test variability with portable testing, which the Joint Research Centre of the EU recently estimated at up to 30%, manufacturers will need aim for emissions below the 0.168g/km to avoid being caught out during the RDE test. Using that variability number would suggest manufacturers will need to target 0.129g/km. This means that the 0.08g/km limit will be exceeded by around 60% on average in real-world driving. Of the Euro 6 diesels we have tested, 29% already meet this limit, as well as all gasoline cars.

Finally, all models will not need to comply until September 2019, and therefore we conclude that the new regulations as currently proposed will prove easier to achieve than might have been expected, even though some manufacturers and models have a greater task than others. As ever, we will be monitoring the situation and will report back with an update soon.

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.

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.