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What Is WLTP?

Posted: 22/08/2018

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" A new set of vehicle tests, designed to deliver real-world data about emissions and efficiency, are coming into effect. While not perfect, the tests will greatly improve the accuracy of the data manufacturers display. The industry expects to see an average drop of 22% in the claimed efficiency of vehicles. Manufacturers must begin displaying figures on 1 January 2019. The efficiency data displayed for your vehicle will now more closely match the figures you’re already experiencing."

After 26 years of use (incorporating developments along the way), the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) test is being replaced. The incoming test is called the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), and it's the result of more than 10 years' discussion and consultation.

WLTP is a significant update, which aims to provide drivers with much more realistic information about the fuel economy and emissions performance of their vehicles. It will do this in conjunction with a new Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test. WLTP and RDE combined are expected to reveal an average drop of 22% in stated efficiency figures.

How are WLTP and RDE different?

The outgoing NEDC test has long been criticised for the unrealistic efficiency figures it produces. While the test is repeatable, meaning it returns figures that compare meaningfully between vehicles, the figures themselves do not represent real-world driving efficiency.

WLTP features significant updates. The test is still done under laboratory conditions, but the conditions themselves have been tweaked to mimic more realistic driving. For example, while nearly a quarter of the NEDC test was conducted with a stationary vehicle, only 13 % of WLTP is done without moving the wheels. Temperatures under which the tests are conducted are more strictly regulated (the NEDC tests were conducted within a broad temperature range of 20-30 degrees). And the longer WLTP test period (half an hour instead of 20 minutes) includes an increased maximum speed as well as gear shifts that differ from vehicle to vehicle.

WLTP results will be taken in conjunction with RDE test results. RDE takes the vehicle out of the laboratory and drives it on an equal selection of town, urban, and country driving. Temperature is regulated, and vehicles are required to undergo changes in elevation.

Initially, RDE test results will only be used to return data on the emission of specific pollutants. However, as RDE testing equipment becomes more accurate, fuel economy data is also likely to be returned. As WLTP and RDE develop, the economy data gained from RDE will supplement the data from WLTP, making the figures even more accurate.

Every model is tested

Under NEDC, only one model version was required to be tested. Under WLTP, every variant of every model must be tested. This means some models may no longer be produced. BMW, for example, is discontinuing its M3, and VW dropped one of its Golf GTI models in July. It's also possible that some trim options will disappear.

What do WLTP and RDE mean for me?

In the real world, your vehicle has always achieved the figures (roughly) that WLTP and RDE are expected to reveal. We say 'roughly' because the accuracy of WLTP and RDE figures, while far greater than those of the NEDC, may not be as comprehensive as the What Car? True MPG test.

The difference is that you're now going to see more realistic figures declared by manufacturers. In other words: the fuel consumption figures declared for your vehicle will be much more like the figures you actually experience. You'll start to see the new figures displayed for vehicles coming on sale in January 2019. Initially, NEDC will also be shown. From 6 April 2020, you'll only see the WLTP/RDE-generated figures.

What about my electric/hybrid vehicle?

In line with the efficiency figures that begin displaying in January 2019, new electric and hybrid vehicles will display more realistic ranges.


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