Auto: The Difficult Transition To The New Homologation

From 1 September all new models must have passed the WLTP tests. The builders are far from ready. WLTP: an enigmatic acronym, hiding a small revolution for the automotive industry. From 1 September, it will be impossible to register new cars in Europe that have not passed the WLTP (Worldwide Harmonized Light-Vehicle Test Procedure). Emissions control measures much more demanding, whose implementation was decided by Brussels after the Dieselgate. The scandal had indeed shown how the old NEDC protocol was easily falsifiable. These new standards have forced car manufacturers to review the engine settings on all their models and even, in some cases, to change the pollution control equipment. An excessively expensive operation that would amount to hundreds of euros per vehicle.

250,000 Volkswagen vehicles blocked

Worse, some manufacturers, like the Volkswagen Group, have still not managed to obtain certification for all their models, forcing them to block their production lines. At the beginning of the summer, the German group announced the postponement of the manufacture of 250,000 vehicles. The boss of the German group, Herbert Diess, had even explained that these new tests were in the short term “the biggest risk for sales and margins”, even before the possible sanctions related to Dieselgate. “We are the only ones, with Volvo, to have already registered all of our models, because we have always been at the forefront of reducing emissions, but we must recognize that our competitors have not had the easy part while the rules of the WLTP were clearly defined only in July 2017 “, explains Maxime Picot, the European director of the PSA group.

Braking unapproved models

The other big concern of the auto giants is the stocks of new vehicles that can not hope to be registered, given their poor environmental performance. From 1 September, they will indeed simply no longer marketable. As a result, the builders do everything to register them before the ax falls. “They do not hesitate to sell them off, and they also asked their dealers to register them for their accounts, and then sell them over the water,” reveals an industry expert.

A limiting practice, but perfectly legal. This explains the amazing boom in the new car market for individuals, which grew by nearly 50% in August, compared to the same month of 2017. And some have given it to heart, especially among brands luxury. The palm, according to information from the Journal de l’Auto, which relays the figures of AAA Data, returns to Porsche (+ 303%) and Subaru (+ 257%). Renault also benefited (+ 72%), while Peugeot (+ 19%), which had largely anticipated the tightening of emissions measures, showed growth in line with its recent months.

A derogation that excludes used cars

Destocking denounced by the environmental associations, which also regrets that the new standard of approval applies only to new vehicles. “We must realize that this represents, only for diesel engines that are more polluting, 40 million vehicles, which will continue to roll freely,” denounces Julia Poliscanova, expert for the NGO Transport and Environment. The solution could come from the cities. Paris, Munich, Athens, Madrid, and Oxford have announced their intention to ban the circulation of the most polluting vehicles on their streets by 2025.

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