MEPs want new cars to respect emission limits under real driving conditions

(source: Pexels/Bruce Mars)

Last Updated on Thursday, 17 September, 2020 at 10:53 am by Andre Camilleri

  • Discrepancy between laboratory and real driving emission tests must end by 30 September 2022
  • MEPs set more stringent limits on portable equipment used to determine compliance with emission limits
  • Air pollution is the number one environmental cause of premature death in the EU

As of September 2022, cars must meet EU limits on NOx emissions under real driving conditions to comply with air pollution limits, says the European Parliament.

On Thursday, Parliament adopted its position with 485 votes to 169 and 42 abstentions on the Commission proposal to re-introduce legal exemptions (through a so-called conformity factor) on nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions from light passenger and commercial cars (Euro 5 and Euro 6) for type approval of vehicles tested under real driving conditions in order to comply with the EU General Court ruling of 13 December 2018.

Real driving emissions tests

Previously, data on car emissions such as NOx were obtained through laboratory tests. The EU is the first region in the world to use real driving emissions (RDE) tests to measure such pollutants emitted by vehicles while driven on the road. However, emissions from these vehicles in real-world driving conditions tend to be significantly higher.

To address technical uncertainties regarding measurements obtained through Portable Emission Measurement Systems (PEMS), which measure emissions from engines while they are being used, the Commission introduced the so-called ‘conformity factor’, which allows for higher emissions under real driving conditions to take into account a margin of error.

To reduce NOx emissions, Parliament wants the conformity factor currently in place to be annually lowered, based on assessments by the Joint Research Centre. After being immediately lowered from 1.43 to 1.32, it should be gradually reduced and cease to apply by 30 September 2022, after which only the raw data from tests carried out under real driving conditions would be used to determine compliance with EU emission limits.

The report also asks that the Commission establish by June 2021 more stringent requirements for the portable measuring equipment to be used for RDE tests.

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