In Depth

WLTP 2018: will it increase vehicle tax rates?

All cars sold in the EU must pass tougher tests from 1 September

A new vehicle emissions standard for cars sold in the European Union launches tomorrow in a bid to accurately reflect real-world data. 

The Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) subjects new vehicles to emissions and fuel consumption tests that are performed with “more varied driving” techniques compared to the current New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) system, says Car Keys.

Cars will be tested over a simulated 23.5km (14.6 miles) drive for 30 minutes, compared to the NEDC’s 11km (6.8 mile) test route over a 20-minute cycle, the motoring site says. 

WLTP aims to deliver more accurate test results for electric and combustion-engined cars. This is because old NEDC system had “loopholes” that manufacturers used to exploit test figures that made their vehicles “seem more favourable”, says CarBuyer.   

The new system’s introduction has forced carmakers to make substantial changes to their production lines. For instance, Volkswagen revealed in June that it would temporarily close its factory in Wolfsburg, Germany to make the necessary infrastructure changes in time for the deadline.

The tests are mandatory, too. Vehicles sold after the 1 September deadline must have passed the tougher WLTP test, says Autocar. Some cars, such as “high-performance” models, had to be withdrawn from sale so they could be “reconfigured” ahead of WLTP’s introduction. 

What does it mean for car buyers?

The introduction of the new format should be a positive step for car buyers, claims The Daily Telegraph.

As WLTP figures are intended to accurately represent real-world energy economy and emissions, the newspaper says the system will “allow for a better-informed buying decision”.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), agrees. He says the new and “demanding” test will “give consumers emissions performance information that is far closer to what they experience behind the wheel”.

Will car tax increase?

That depends on how the Government responds to WLTP’s arrival. 

The Daily Express suggests drivers “could end up paying more car tax for the same vehicle” because the new tests “provide a more accurate CO2 emissions reading for a car”.

Therefore, the newspaper says, “a motorist that buys a car after 1 September could pay more for their car tax than they would if they purchased the car before then”.

However, the Daily Telegraph says the Government doesn’t intend to take into account WLTP figures until 2020 to circumnavigate a “sudden” and “painful” tax hike. 

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