Explained: Emissions in 2019

April 2019

Climate change has been a topic of global discussion for the last few years but in 2019, this discussion is stepping up a gear, as countries worldwide take action to reduce their carbon footprint and improve the air quality of their cities.

In the UK, two new regulations are aiming to pave the way for a cleaner and greener future; the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WTLP), which came into force in September 2017, and the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) which is due to come into effect in April 2019. With both WTLP and ULEZ expected to affect drivers and manufacturers alike, we explain how both legislations have changed the UK’s automotive landscape.
Developed by the EU, the WTLP has replaced the out-dated New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) and came into force in September 2017. Unlike its predecessor, which assessed cars based on a theoretical driving profile, the WTLP test uses real-driving data to give cars more accurate efficiency and environmental ratings. It assesses fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and other pollutant emissions such as nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulates.

WTLP officially applied to new car types from September 2017 and subsequently, to all new car registrations from September 2018. In real terms, this means that exactly the same car could be re-labelled as less efficient and more polluting in September 2018 than in August 2018, due to WTLP’s more stringent criteria. Unsold cars previously tested under the old NEDC can be sold until September 2019, with full implementation of the WTLP scheduled for 2021.

However, despite its name — Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure — WTLP is only being adopted in full by the EU, Norway, Iceland, UK, Switzerland, Turkey, Israel and Liechtenstein. Additionally, it will be used differently depending on each individual country’s road traffic laws and needs.

In a world where the global focus has shifted to being eco-friendly, this has significant implications for car manufacturers as they’ve had to reassess and re-categorise their entire automotive portfolios, at the expense of time and cost. For motorists, having their existing vehicles effectively ‘downgraded’ could have wide-reaching impact, particularly at a time when the UK is tightening rules on pollution with the implementation of new legislation, such as the ULEZ.
Ultra Low Emission Zone
Championed by the Mayor of London, the Ultra Low Emission Zone will replace the T-Charge and operate within the current Congestion Charging Zone (CCZ). From the 8th April 2019, vans, lorries, coaches, buses, cars, motorbikes and all other vehicles will need to either meet new and stricter emissions standards, or pay the daily ULEZ charge. Cars, vans and motorbikes will have to pay £12.50, with HGVs, coaches and buses charged £100, and unlike the London Congestion Charge, ULEZ will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Failure to pay may result in a fine of up to £130.

The ULEZ standard is:
  • Euro 3 for motorcycles
  • Euro 4 for petrol cars, vans and minibuses
  • Euro 6 for diesel cars, vans and minibuses
  • Euro VI for lorries, buses and coaches

As a rule of thumb, pre-2015 diesels and pre-2006 petrol cars won’t meet the standard, but it should noted that ULEZ charges will ultimately be enforced on the declared emissions of the vehicle, as assessed by the newly implemented WTLP. ULEZ is expected to affect up to 60,000 vehicles a day, meaning that potentially, there will be thousands of motorists who will be out of pocket — either by having to pay the daily charge, or through buying a new vehicle which meets the news standards.
What’s next?
As global attitudes towards emissions, the environment and the impact of pollution continue to champion cleaner and greener solutions and tighter regulations, it’s clear that manufacturers and motorists will have to adapt to this changing landscape. As well as stricter regulations on emissions, many countries are seeking to ban diesel and petrol cars completely by 2040 (UK and France), making it essential for insurers to prepare to innovate for the future as the automotive sector transitions into a new — largely electric-driven — era.

If you like to find out more about what the future of the car industry, you can read our blog on the Future of the Electric Car, or even The Future of Car Ownership to see how global issues are shaping the industry.