The current lab test, known as the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), measures CO2 and pollutant emissions against EU regulations. The standardised testing procedure allows comparison of emissions between different car models.
The New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) measures the emissions of passenger cars for both CO2 and pollutants in a laboratory setting. All conditions for vehicle set-up, testing and the handling of test results for cars are defined by EU law. This is important as it establishes a standard regulation that all car manufactures and other players must respect. Additionally, it allows for a standardised and repeatable procedure which enables customers to compare emissions between different car models.
Laboratory tests not only allow for comparison of emissions between different car models, they also play a key role in the procedure of bringing a car into the EU market. Before vehicles can be put on the market in the EU, they are tested using this laboratory-based test cycle by a national technical service in accordance with EU legislation. The national approval authority grants approval on the basis of these tests. The manufacturer may make an application for approval in any EU country. Once approved in one EU country, all vehicles of its type may be registered throughout the EU. Vehicles are sampled from the production line according to the industry standard of statistical sampling procedures. Those vehicles are tested to ensure they meet the approved requirements.
When a new emissions standard enters into force in the EU (for example, Euro 6 from 1 September 2014 for new types of cars), a manufacturer has a period of one year until all of its future production would have to meet this standard (in this case 1 September 2015 for Euro 6). It also requires checks on the ‘in-service conformity’ of vehicles in use on the road – this will be the role of RDE in the future.
The NEDC was designed in the 1980s and today, can be considered outdated due to several evolutions in technology and driving conditions.
- Today’s cars come equipped with an increasing amount of new technologies that have a strong effect on fuel consumption (and with that consequently, CO2 emissions), for instance 4-wheel drive and a wide range of customer comfort systems (such as air-conditioning, rear window heater or heated seats and other electrical devices). These features are not accounted for using the NEDC test procedure, because they simply were not common when the test was designed.
- Driving has also changed over the years with increased traffic congestion, resulting in more inefficient driving. Additionally, driving styles have also changed. In some countries new car sales are driven by company cars whose drivers receive a fuel card and who probably do not see fuel economy as their highest priority.