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New EU car emission tests now mandatory

New car models now have to pass tougher emissions tests as well as an improved laboratory test before they can be driven on European roads.04 Sep 2017

The new tests are more reliable and must take in "real driving conditions", the European Commission said. This will "help to rebuild confidence in the performance of new cars", it said.

The new rules came into force on 1 September.

Nitrogen oxide (NOx) and particulate emissions will be measured while driving, and the laboratory test procedure will test for all emissions. Both tests are now mandatory for all new car models and will be phased in for all new cars between 2018 and 2019, the Commission said.

Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, responsible for internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SME said: "A quick shift to zero emissions vehicles is in all our interest given the public health and environmental risks at stake. And it's crucial for the car industry if it wants to remain internationally competitive. But for the time being, diesel cars remain part of our lives and we must rebuild confidence in this technology. That is why having new and more reliable tests for new cars is essential."

The new tests are being introduced following Volkswagen's 2015 admission that it used "defeat device" software in 11 million cars that allowed it to give false results in tests for NOx emissions. 

In June 2016, Germany called on the EU to improve rules on vehicle emission testing to cover the range of adaptations to emissions control systems used by vehicle manufacturers.

While no other manufacturer was using a similar system to Volkswagen's, "it became clear that for many vehicle types, real driving emissions are significantly higher than on the dynamometer", Germany told the European Transport Council.

In the UK, the Department for Transport announced the enhanced tests last week adding that "(t)he nitrogen oxide emissions requirements for all new car models will be stricter again from 1 September 2020."