Currently reading: European Commission to relax rules on tougher emissions regulations
A proposal by the European Commission would allow new cars to permanently exceed EU emissions limits by up to 50%

The European Commission is scaling back plans for tougher emissions legislation in Europe.

Elzbieta Bienkowska, the European Commissioner for industrial policy, has put forward proposals to dilute the plan to start testing real-world NOx emissions under the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedures (WLTP).

The plan is meant to come into force in September 2017, replacing the current New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) tests which have been widely criticised in the wake of the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

Testing has shown that, in places, emissions discharges in real-world conditions are up to 500% higher than under laboratory conditions.

Bienkowska’s proposals would allow real-world NOx emissions to exceed limits by as much as 110% until January 2020. Earlier proposals allowed for a 60% overshoot until autumn 2019.

Cars would also be allowed to exceed EU limits - set to be 80g/km in 2020 - by up to 50% permanently. That means the actual real-world limit will be 120g/km in the EU, a target which is more achievable for the majority of car makers.

The EU’s Technical Committee for Motor Vehicles (TCMV) has already endorsed the revised legislation, but some politicians have labelled the proposal as “scandalous and cynical.”

Some have also been critical of the continued political clout held by vehicle manufacturers, with UK MEP Catherine Bearder saying: “This is a shameful stitch-up which once again puts the interests of car makers ahead of people’s health.”

In a statement, Bienkowska said: “The EU is the first and only region in the world to mandate these robust testing methods.

“And this is not the end of the story. We are working hard to present a proposal to strengthen the type-approval system and reinforce the independence of vehicle testing.”

The modified legislation still has to pass a vote by the European Parliament before it is mandated.

The pressure to significantly modify European testing procedures for NOx emissions has mounted in recent weeks in the wake of VW’s emissions scandal.

The scandal has shone a light on the fact that the majority of manufacturers struggle to meet current emissions limits with Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), telling MPs recently, “The [current] test cycle dates back to the early 1980s and the industry recognises it isn't fit for purpose.”

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

Back to top

Join the debate

Add a comment…
TurtleGerald 29 October 2015

No lobbying there then!

Nothing to see here. Move along and clutch your inhalers tightly, good citizens.
Moparman 29 October 2015

Henny Penny

Perhaps this is a tacit admission (or emission) from Bureaucracy Central that cars are not the centre of evil? We just were told that practically every meat imaginable is as bad as smoking but real-world information tends to discredit that because we can see cancer more-easily than respiratory ailments. There hasn't been a worldwide ban on peanuts in spite of the rise in peanut allergies after all. I believe that car-lovers still need to be vigilant against the large anti-car lobby in government and NGOs but that the EU is facing reality instead of burying its head in the sand is welcome.
pauld101 29 October 2015

People really should find out what they're talking about..

If cars put out 80g/km NOx we'd all be poisoned by tomorrow and they're wouldn't be a problem anymore. Your numbers are actually a thousand times too large.
A drive cycle is merely a standardised system so that realistic comparisons can be drawn. For fuel economy many years ago, it used to be a constant 56 mph, which was unrealistic, because hardly anyone drove at a constant 56 mph. So they then had a standardised drive cycle, simulating stop-start traffic and accelerations. In the real world, however, we drive outside this drive cycle. We go up mountains to several thousand metres and we start our cars and drive to work when it's below freezing, or maybe we accelerate really hard in a low gear. Currently, car manufacturers only have to meet emissions within the cycle. Off-cycle emissions are not legislated for. So the Authorities have tabled a set of boundary conditions covering load/speed/temperature and altitude, over which they mustn't exceed the test cycle by more 50%. So, you see, it's actually very stringent. So it's not a climb down and they still won't be able to afford Champagne in Wolfsburg this decade.