What’s happening to my CO2 numbers?

I’m picking up some confusion around the fleet market at the moment about what’s happening in terms of the changes in CO2 emissions testing, with questions about the transition to the new WLTP system.

The LowCVP has a central role in helping to make sense of this change and we’re working hard to help smooth the transition and explain what it means. We’ve recently published a guide for industry stakeholders (link below), but fleet managers also need to understand the implications of the change, and some of the background too.

First of all, it’s important to know that the CO2 emissions certification test has changed, from the NEDC system to the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure - WLTP for short. The new test has been designed to provide much more realistic and representative emissions data and to give users better information on the specific car/model they’ve chosen.

Many informed voices have been calling for this kind of change to happen for many years.

For most users there are two key pieces of information that they need from the test: robust fuel economy information to help compare and predict running costs and a CO2 rating to determine taxation costs or compliance with specific regulations. (Of course, every vehicle on sale also has to pass the pollution emission limits for Euro 6 on the WLTP cycle).

LowCVP’s position has been that this change is urgently needed and as soon as we have complete data, we should adopt the new figures to help fleet managers and drivers make more informed choices. It’s now confirmed that WLTP fuel economy ratings will be adopted on the legal labels and in adverts and brochures from January 2019.

While changing the test doesn’t change the fuel economy you actually get on the road, it does give you a better idea of what to expect. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the new test process appears to be giving higher CO2 figures in many cases than were achieved under NEDC. So the CO2 figure you now see more accurately represents the real car, rather than it being a loose estimate of the most basic version of that car under the old system.

Figures are still reported in the form of the old test (NEDC equivalent) in order to correlate with pre-existing VED and other tax bands, which haven’t changed. The challenge is that under the new regime, we have a different (mostly higher) figure as the ‘flexibilities’ that had been exploited in the old test process have been substantially reduced.

When we fully change over to the actual WLTP CO2 figures in April 2020, Treasury has agreed that the bands will be adjusted to reflect the impact of the (mostly) higher CO2 levels from that specific cycle. In the near term, however, it’s likely that company car drivers in particular could feel the effect of the more accurate and specific CO2 numbers through – potentially - a higher tax bracket for their next car.

For more explanation of WLTP, there’s a new section on our website: www.lowcvp.org.uk/wltp. For this and the many other policy initiatives, please contact us at the LowCVP or, better still, come and join us to help shape future policy towards greener fleets and greener driving.

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