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WLTP - What is it and what does it mean?

WLTP or Worldwide Harmonised Light Duty Test Procedure to give it the full name will come into effect on 1st September 2018.

What is it?

WLTP is the new European Union testing procedure for all new vehicles and has been introduced to replace the now outdated NEDC (New European Driving Cycle) which first came into effect in the 1980s.

The new test will look at fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, pollutant emissions and energy consumption values of alternative powertrains (including electric vehicles).

Unlike the NEDC test the WLTP test will be much longer based on real world driving conditions and designed to give more accurate figures for all the above.

How does it work?

The WLTP test is split into four parts and will look at all aspects of driving to include.

More realistic driving behaviours
A greater range of driving situations to include, urban, suburban, main road and motorway – 30 mins
Longer test distances - 23-25 kilometres
More dynamic and representative accelerations and decelerations
Higher average and maximum speeds – average of 46.4 km/h and maximum of 131 km/hr
Shorter StopsHigher Average and maximum drive power
More realistic ambient temperatures, closer to the European average – 23 Centigrade

There will also be stricter car set up and measurement conditions

It will also show the impact of options on vehicle such as smaller/larger wheels, sunroofs etc and be able to show values for individual vehicles as built.

Enables manufacturers to show best and worst case scenarios of emissions on a particular model of car based on extras which it may or may not have, and can reflect on options available for similar models

Hybrid and electric cars will be tested in a variety of situations going from full to empty batteries and should give better information on power consumption and vehicle range in the case of electric vehicles.

Why change?

The NEDC testing programme was introduced in 1980 to asses CO2 and mpg and was based on theoretical values at that time. Because of advances in technology and changing driving conditions the test has now become outdated.

When does it come into effect?

Actually the WLTP test has been in place for all new types of cars (new types of cars are vehicle models introduced to the market for the first time) from September 2017. However WLTP will apply to all new car registrations from 1st September 2018.

All cars produced before 31st May 2018 will need to be registered by 31st December 2018. (subject to derogation).

Cars tested under NEDC produced between 1st June 2018 and 31st August 2018 must be registered by 31st August 2018.

All cars registered from 1st September 2018 will need to be WLTP compliant.

There may be a limited number of cars that will have been tested under the old NEDC programme but these will need to be registered by 1st September 2019.

What does this mean to manufactures?

There are only three organisations that can test cars under the new scheme and they cannot test all the cars being produced in the time available.

As a result some manufactures have chosen to shut down production (in some cases for all models) so they can make the cars they produce complaint with the new test programme.

Others may remove models from the line up altogether, some at short notice.

Because all variants of vehicles have to be tested it may stop short run or special edition models being made due to the workload in testing these vehicles.

What does it mean for the customer?

For the consumer it will almost certainly mean that the published figures for mpg and CO2 will be amended and will increased CO2 figures will come higher VED rates.

For company car drivers this will also mean higher Benefit in Kind charges.

It is expected that stock levels will decrease as cars are sold but no new cars are being made during the shut downs. It could also mean longer lead times as factories make the revisions to produce compliant vehicles.

Cars may be delayed due to the particular model or derivative not being tested in time.

Cars that have been ordered for a September delivery may have to be registered by 31st August as they will not comply with the new regulations.

What does it mean for leasing companies and brokers?

Costs will almost certainly go up as vehicles move up the VED bands. However there are deals to be done currently particularly on vehicle that need to be registered by 31st August

With uncertainly in the market about diesels in particular a lease may be the best and safest way of controlling costs and protecting against falling car value.

The future?

Many manufactures have announced they are moving away from producing diesel and petrol cars only. The WLTP programme may accelerate this programme ahead of the 2040 deadline for all cars to be either hybrid or electric due to the increase in CO2 figures.

In April 2020 the government has announced that the VED will be based on the WLTP figures and it is expected that company car tax will also change at the same time.


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