From September 1st 2018 the snappily titled Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (or WLTP) will become the standard applied to all new cars to test fuel economy and emissions.
For the first time the emissions standards will require testing both in the laboratory and in real world, on-road, driving simulations. It will also take into consideration the use of heated seats, four wheel drive and air conditioning – components which commonly reduce vehicle fuel efficiency.
This is intended to give a more accurate reflection of vehicle CO2 emissions and MPG economy figures.
Shockingly, a number of car dealers in the UK seem to be largely ignorant of this vital change.
Figures from Manheim’s latest dealer sentiment survey indicate that as many as one in ten dealers are unaware of the new compliance requirements. This is in spite of the changes originally being introduced in September 2017.
61% of dealers have also said that they are not clear as to the timetable for the changes, or how the new testing will affect new cars after the deadline.
There have been some last-minute efforts by manufacturers to provide support and advice on WLTP to ensure the dealers fully informed, but could these be too little, too late?
New car registrations are already down on previous years and there are concerns that these can be further impacted by WLTP.
The vast majority (91%) of dealers in the UK have said that the WLTP has contributed to a lower number of September vehicle orders, compared to this time in 2017.
Dealers across the UK have a number of stock cars which don’t adhere to the new regulations. A large number are rushing to pre-register the cars so that they remain unaffected by the new test. The only other alternatives are to sell them before 1st September (no doubt meaning significant savings for customers) or retro fit them to ensure they are compliant (with the technology to do this being prohibitively expensive).
A number of models have in fact been removed from sale (like the Audi RS3) as manufacturers are finding that the tests are costly and time consuming, with Mercedes citing that they take almost twice as long as the previous test.
It remains to be seen how WLTP affects car sales and manufacturers in the long term, not to mention whether car owners can expect to see any further increases to their car tax bill!