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WLTP - What is it?

12th July 2018 | Mike Lamb

If you’re looking to replace your car or are just generally interested in cars, 4 letters which you may have noticed crop up recently are set to make a huge difference to the industry over the coming months: WLTP.

Here we look at just what those 4 letters mean and how they will impact people and the automotive industry as a whole. WLTP stands for “Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure” and it has come to exist off the back of the many emissions scandals around the globe, most notably that of Volkswagen whereby their “real world” emissions and miles per gallon were far removed from those advertised.

Vehicle Emissions

So What’s changing?

Previously, vehicles on sale in Europe were tested and governed by the NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) which was introduced in the 1980s and was based on “theoretical driving” from laboratory data. This data has proven to be erroneous and the NEDC has served to become outdated. WLTP data is based on real driving data and so is a much closer match to on-road performance of vehicles.

The WLTP “real driving” data is based on a driving cycle divided into four parts based on different average speeds: Low, Medium, High and Extra High. Each section contains variables based on driving, stops, acceleration and braking. For certain cars each powertrain is tested under WLTP for the car’s lightest and heaviest version, representing both the most and least economical versions respectively.

What are the Benefits of WLTP?

WLTP improves on the old NEDC testing in a number of ways and will provide a much more accurate basis for calculating fuel consumption and emissions, meaning laboratory measurements better reflect the real world, on-road performance of a car.

In short, WLTP will introduce much more realistic testing conditions, including but not limited to:

  • More realistic driving behaviour
  • Higher average and maximum speeds
  • Optional equipment will also be tested (meaning CO2 values and fuel consumption can be provided for individual vehicles as they come off the production line)
  • A greater range of driving situations
  • More realistic ambient temperatures
  • Longer test distances

Laboratory Tests

Will WLTP end the discrepancy between laboratory and on-road performance of cars?

Whilst many improvements have been made over the old NEDC test, WLTP cannot cover all possible variables for every vehicle, in addition each driver has a driving style individual to themselves and so will inevitably encounter different results to other drivers in the same car.

In Summary

WLTP comes into effect in September 2018 and will provide much more accurate emissions and fuel consumption data for cars on sale across Europe. As a result, many vehicles are currently factory orders to comply with the WLTP testing and not the NEDC testing which is being phased out. Some “end of life” vehicles may well be available as NEDC tested vehicles beyond September, although these will be limited in numbers.

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