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New cars to be subject to strict emissions test in bid to cut pollution

New models of diesel and petrol cars will need to pass a “real world” driving test before they are allowed on UK roads, the government has announced.28 Aug 2017

The rules come into force on 1 September and the Department for Transport (DfT) said nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions requirements would be tightened again in 2020.

In a diesel testing programme last year the government found the latest models of diesel cars were emitting six times more nitrogen dioxide in the real world than in a laboratory situation. Emissions will need to be cut by two thirds to pass the new tests. 

During the 90-minute test, which they must pass before they are approved to go on sale in Britain, vehicles will have emissions testing equipment attached to the exhaust pipe. The vehicle will have to do roughly equal splits of town, countryside and motorway driving.

The test has also been designed to stop car manufacturers from cheating, in the wake of the 2015 scandal in which Volkswagen admitted to using software to help it pass laboratory emissions tests.

Last December the European Commission began legal action in relation to the scandal against seven EU member states, including the UK, for not acting on the evidence uncovered by investigations, or for failure to bring in laws punishing environmental breaches.

In May the government published a draft plan and consultation in a bid to improve air quality by reducing NO2 levels, in response to court challenges brought by environmental group ClientEarth.

Last month it announced it would ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040 as part of its plans to improve air quality.

Germany is creating an Institute for Consumption and Emission Measurement to work with the automotive industry and with regional governments in a bid to cut emissions.