T&E: European Test Cycle 'Not Fit For Purpose'

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

The European test cycle for fuel economy and emissions may need to be taken out back, based on findings by policy group Transport and Environment.

According to Ward’s Auto, T&E proclaimed the New European Driving Cycle “is not fit for purpose,” finding the laboratory results reported by automakers and those uncovered in real-world scenarios have a gulf between them, one that has widened over time: 8 percent difference in 2001, 31 percent in 2013, and a predicted 50 percent by 2020 if no action is taken.

Per the group, the NEDC is “obsolete, unrepresentative of modern cars and driving styles, and full of loopholes that car makers exploit to produce better test results,” as the lab results fail to account for external factors.

A replacement is in the works: the AECA is helping to develop the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure, meant to replicate the real-world conditions the NEDC fails to account. The European Union would like the WLTP ready by 2017, but T&E clean-vehicles chief Greg Archer wants to see it sooner so that automakers can be stopped from “exploiting the flexibilities” in the current procedure.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

More by Cameron Aubernon

Join the conversation
13 of 31 comments
  • Pch101 Pch101 on Dec 05, 2014

    The European test cycles allow on-road testing, which lends itself to gaming. The "real world" aspect is what is wrong with it. It makes more sense to limit testing to a lab for the sake of consistency.

    • See 1 previous
    • Pch101 Pch101 on Dec 06, 2014

      @stuki "To be even remotely realistic, the test has to make allowance for full output to be used at least some of the time." That is neither realistic nor the point of these tests. The purpose of these tests is to create a means to compare vehicles directly with each other. The only way to do that is to have a test that is administered in a lab, conducted the same way each time, under consistent conditions.

  • Occam Occam on Dec 05, 2014

    In looking at European (UK) and American figures for the same cars, I found that Euro numbers tend to run 25-33% higher. This accounts for the 20% difference in the size of our gallons, as well as the more punishing EPA testing cycle. I believe the CAFE MPG and EPA MPG are calculated differently (CAFE is much less punishing, and weighted in the automakers favor), but I've never been able to find the actual difference.

    • Pch101 Pch101 on Dec 05, 2014

      "I believe the CAFE MPG and EPA MPG are calculated differently" They are. CAFE uses an older version of the test, which can be expected to produce higher numbers than the current version of the EPA test.

  • Burgersandbeer Burgersandbeer on Dec 05, 2014

    Instead of taking two years to develop their own test, why not work with the EPA to use that one? The EPA test might still be optimistic in some cases, but it's generally close enough.

    • See 5 previous
    • Krhodes1 Krhodes1 on Dec 06, 2014

      @burgersandbeer How dare you come here with your reasonableness! I don't care what the numbers are, as long as they are comparable between different cars. FWIW, I usually get pretty much what the current EPA figures are with anything I drive. And usually beat them on any sort of longer trip.

  • Spike_in_Brisbane Spike_in_Brisbane on Dec 06, 2014

    I suggest that there is just a simple test on the accuracy of the car's trip computer and that these figures get onto the internet and collated over time. This gives average, real world numbers. It would be exciting to watch for the first few months after release of a new model.