New and improved car emissions tests has become mandatory

On 1 September 2017, it became mandatory for new car models to pass new and more reliable emissions tests in real driving conditions (Real Driving Emissions – RDE), as well as an improved laboratory test (World Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure – WLTP), before they can be driven on European roads.

The new tests represent one of the several important steps in the Commission’s work for a clean, sustainable and competitive car industry. In addition to the tests, other steps include:

  • the proposal for a regulation on the approval and market surveillance of motor vehicles and their trailers, and of systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles, of January 2016, aiming at ensuring greater quality and independence of vehicle testing and more surveillance of cars already in circulation;
  • air quality standards;
  • the European Strategy for low-emission mobility, that aims at increasing the efficiency of the transport system, speeding up the deployment of low-emission alternative energy for transport and moving towards zero-emission vehicles.

With the new tests, it will be possible to obtain more reliable results and to help to rebuild confidence in the performance of new cars, also in the view of the revelations, in September 2015, that the Volkswagen Group used defeat device software to circumvent emissions standards for certain air pollutants. Following this event, the Commission invited all Member States, as the responsible authorities for market surveillance and enforcement of the type-approval legislation, to carry out the necessary investigations into the real emission levels of vehicles on their territory, and to ensure compliance with EU law.

In December 2016 and May 2017, the Commission opened infringement procedures against eight Member States for breaching EU type approval legislation, and continues to monitor whether EU law in this area is being correctly enforced by Member States.


Sara Capruzzi