The Environmental Protection Agency EPA is issuing two actions related to vehicle emissions durability testing procedures. This comes on the heels of the $90-million settlement with DaimlerChrysler to repair defective catalytic converters on nearly 1.5 million Jeep and Dodge vehicles (earlier post).
First, EPA is issuing a final rule that establishes vehicle aging procedures that automotive manufacturers must use to demonstrate that their vehicles will continue to meet the emission standards throughout the required useful life period (120,000 miles for most cars and trucks).
The rule also includes two prescribed test methods: (1) the standard whole vehicle-aging cycle, and (2) the standard bench-aging cycle. Manufacturers would use one of these cycles to age pre-production vehicles to the equivalent of the useful life mileage. Test data from this aging would then be used to project what the emission levels of certification vehicles would be at their full useful lives. In addition, EPA includes a provision to allow the use of customized or alternative cycles with advance EPA approval.
Second, EPA is proposing three options for comment on processes for testing the durability of vehicle emissions-related components, such as oxygen sensors and catalytic converters.
The first option would retain the current EPA process of allowing manufacturers to use good engineering judgment, such as computer modeling, test data, or other established methods to demonstrate component durability.
The second option would allow manufacturers to continue using the current EPA process, but would require the manufacturers to submit whole vehicle testing data for a worst-case vehicle configuration.
The third option would allow manufacturers to continue using the current EPA process, but would also require that manufacturers submit data when a new type of component or a new technology is being introduced.