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Car manufacturers ask for more time to implement real-world driving emission rules

Nissan production line

Car manufacturers have written to the European Commission to ask for more time to implement real world driving emissions rules, claiming the staged roll-out means planning has become an 'impossible task'.

In a letter to European Commission Vice-President Timmermans on the next package of the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) has requested more reasonable lead-times.

With this third RDE package, the Commission is proposing legislation with major implications for manufacturing that will give industry only a few months to comply.

The automobile industry welcomes the introduction of stricter testing methods for the measurement of pollutant and CO2 emissions from passenger cars and vans. The updated laboratory test known as ‘WLTP’ will make the testing of pollutants and CO2 more robust, and the new RDE test will be used to measure pollutant emissions under real driving conditions.

The RDE legislation will be implemented in EU law in two steps. The first step, starting from September 2017, has been confirmed since the legislation was published in April 2016. The second step of RDE, requiring major hardware changes, will apply from January 2020.

The European Commission chose to introduce this complex legislation in multiple packages, meaning that proper planning by vehicle manufacturers has become an almost impossible task.

It is already the subject of two separate Regulations, published in March and April 2016.

Since then, manufacturers have had to accelerate their planning and make substantial investments to ensure vehicles are developed, designed and produced in time for the first RDE step. Two more RDE Regulations are due over the next six months.

The third part of this legislation is currently on the table. RDE package 3 introduces significant new measures that would apply from September 2017. The Commission intends to have this agreed by the regulatory committee on 20 December. Assuming that the scrutiny of the European Parliament passes without problem, this indicates a publication date as late as May 2017 and entry into force into EU law nearly a month later. It is only when scrutiny is successfully concluded that manufacturers will know with certainty what they must do to comply a few months later, and can finally proceed with their plans.

“The problem we face is very practical: this regulatory uncertainty simply leaves too little time for manufacturers to make the necessary changes to the design of vehicles, engines, exhaust systems and assembly lines,” explained ACEA Secretary General Erik Jonnaert.

“That is why manufacturers are calling for a reasonable approach with sufficient lead-time, fully in line with the principles of better regulation advocated by the Commission.”

ACEA also expressed this request in its feedback to the public consultation.

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