The hard-edged introduction of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) this September could force car makers to offer heavy discounts on cars that don’t meet its standards.
As things stand in Britain, brands left with large stockpiles of unsold pre-WLTP cars won’t be able to sell any to customers, potentially forcing them to scrap them before they reach showrooms.
Other European countries have offered a grace period after the 1 September for manufacturers to sell pre-WLTP cars off, but the UK Government is yet to announce such plans.
It’s common practice for car makers to build more cars than they’ve sold, meaning they may be forced to pre-register large numbers of them or sell unsold vehicles in the run-up to the deadline at heavily discounted prices, so as to reduce the number of unsold cars.
WhatCar?, Autocar’s sister title, said that buyers of vehicles built in far-off countries with long delivery times could also suffer delivery delays as brands require them to wait for a WLTP-approved car to arrive after 1 September, rather than race to get their pre-WLTP model here before.
The Audi SQ5 could be an example of such a move, because Audi recently suspended sales of the hot SUV, leaving only existing stock available. A spokesman told Autocar that the move was related to a full build slot, but Autocar understands it’s linked to the WLTP’s introduction.
WLTP will replace the outgoing New European Driving Cycle test, which is lab-based. The WLTP test uses real-world testing to provide more accurate emissions figures. It is generally considered to be stricter – estimates state it’ll make each model’s CO2 figure rise by an average of 15g/km – and it's therefore forcing many manufacturers to make engineering changes to their cars.
BMW revealed that the M4 was to be temporarily taken off sale later this year so a particulate filter can be added to its exhaust system. Its four-door sibling, the F80 M3, will be axed because, as a spokesman explained, it’s not financially viable to make such a modification to a car so late in its production life cycle.