Car makers are “struggling” to publish all model-variant CO2 and MPG figures in time to hit the deadline for the new WLTP fuel economy rules on 1 January 2021, according to a report by industry consultant Jato Dynamics.
“This isn’t about the test itself or compliance with the test but the massive data flows to inform customers and dealers about new CO2 and MPG figures, and some car makers are struggling with that,” said Olivier Pejis, head of European sales leasing at Jato. “There’s also the issue of offices being closed for three months during Covid shutdowns, cutting the time available to work on this.”
With around 15 million new cars sold in Europe every year, each with a unique specification of parts and the bulk of each model subject to multiple spec changes during the buying process, the data involved is enormous.
“The only source for these numbers is the OEM [original equipment manufacturer], so every car that is specified needs a CO2 and MPG figure supplied from the car maker. The demand for highly accurate information is immense,” said Pejis.
The CO2 figures of built cars also contribute to a manufacturer’s CO2 fleet average. The target is around 95g/km, depending on a number of factors, and is the basis for huge EU fines if the limit is breached.
The detailed spec of every new car sold from 1 January 2021 will have a bearing on its unique CO2 and MPG figures, which will stay with the car for its life and dictate the road tax and company car tax due on it.
“This is very complex and it’s new to everyone, so it’s not surprising that some car makers are better at it than others,” said Pejis.
A source at a major car maker contacted by Autocar said the process of introducing new WLTP figures on price lists had been “challenging”.
They said: “We feel we’re on top of it. But others may not have started so early and may be finding it more difficult.”
One pitfall of failing to get the CO2 and MPG numbers correct is the unpleasant surprise for a buyer whose new car delivers worse efficiency than expected.
“This will cause all sorts of problems for private buyers, but especially corporate fleets, who are giving undertakings to clients and investors about corporate responsibilities for reducing their carbon footprint,” said Pejis.
This is a real possibility because of changes in engineering or spec between an order and delivery – a lead time that can extend to more than three months for a car built to order. A small spec or minor engineering change – such as a different battery or tyre brand or a component redesign – could change the actual CO2 and MPG figures in this time.
Car buyers have also become accustomed to lastminute spec changes up to the ‘build date’, but this may no longer be possible once WLTP is mandated after 1 January.