The great vehicle testing maze

A new car is born

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The car maker will apply to have the car approved

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A car maker has to apply for ‘type approval’ to a national authority.

How car testing works today

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The car maker will often choose a private technical service to oversee the tests in their own lab. Both the national authority and the technical service are paid by the car maker.

…and how it needs changing

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The national authority will choose the technical service. The car maker will only pay the national authority, who in turn will reimburse the technical service for their work.

The car gets tested

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As part of type approval and for measuring fuel consumption and emissions, the car is tested on an outdoor test track and in a laboratory.

How car testing works today

9 tricks for misleading fuel consumption claims illu2_L

The tests are based on the NEDC, a test protocol which has lots of loopholes. Car makers specially design ‘Golden cars’ to boost performance. Tricks include overinflating tyres, lowering the weight of the car and driving unrealistically.

…and how it needs changing

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Tests are based on the more lifelike WLTP and in turn the cars are more representative. Vehicles will also be checked on the road using portable equipment for emissions and fuel consumption.

Once tested, the car gets type approval (or not)

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The paperwork is sent to the national authority who either decides to grant or refuse type approval.

How car testing works today

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The results are not usually made public or shared with other countries.

…and how it needs changing

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Results are made public and shared across the EU to improve transparency.

If approved, the car goes into production

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How car testing works today

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The prototype model goes into production and the manufacturer conducts its own checks on the cars.

…and how it needs changing

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During production, authorities carry out spot checks. That way, if the cars are not in conformity they will not reach the consumer.

The vehicle goes on sale in a dealership and is advertised

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How car testing works today

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Advertisements tend to overstate the green credentials of the car. There is a lack of reliable, relevant and comparable information today.

…and how it needs changing

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The advertisement will clearly show the real green credentials of the car using the official car label.

Happy car owner hits the road

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How car testing works today

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Because of the flaws in the current test, the car will likely guzzle more fuel and emit more pollution than the ad promised. Consumers can end up paying hundreds of euros more in annual fuel costs than otherwise expected.

…and how it needs changing

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To ensure the performance of the car is achieved on the road and over its lifetime, authorities carry out random spot checks.