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Europe moves forward with Real Driving Emissions testing procedure; more to do

Earlier this week, member states in the European Commission’s Technical Committee - Motor Vehicles (TCMV) gave support to the EC proposal for Real Driving Emissions (RDE) testing requirements.

The goal of RDE, which began its development in January 2011 and is targeted for implementation in the upcoming EU6c Emission Regulation in 2017, is to add emissions measurement under real-world driving as an additional type approval requirement. The goal is more closely to match certified output of tailpipe pollutants such as NOx and particulate matter to real world use; research has shown that real-world emissions—particularly that of NOx from diesels—have been far exceeding regulatory levels. (e.g., Earlier post.)

The RDE legislation will require engines to be clean under all operating conditions; this will impose significant challenges on the design and the calibration of engines.

Broadly, the approved RDE proposal includes:

  • The use of portable emission measurement systems (PEMS) and not-to-exceed (NTE) regulatory concepts.

  • A two-phase implementation. During a first transitional period the test procedures should only be applied for monitoring purposes, while afterwards they should be applied together with binding quantitative RDE requirements to all new type approvals/new vehicles. The final quantitative RDE requirements are to be introduced in two subsequent steps.

  • In establishing the quantitative RDE requirements, statistical and technical uncertainties of the measurement procedures are to be taken into account. (As AVL notes, driving a vehicle on the road will never be 100% reproducible. The influence of the road profile, the ambient conditions, the traffic situation as well as the behavior of the driver itself significantly influence the results. One-to-one comparison of test results will not be possible; instead it is necessary to handle and evaluate the test data using statistical methods.)

  • An individual RDE test at the initial type approval cannot cover the full range of relevant traffic and ambient conditions. Therefore in-service-conformity testing must ensure that the widest possible range of such conditions is covered by a regulatory RDE test, thereby providing for compliance with the regulatory requirements under all normal conditions of use.

  • Small volume manufacturers may receive exemptions.

  • RDE test procedure should be updated and improved if necessary to reflect, e.g., changes in vehicle technology. To assist the revision procedure, vehicle and emissions data obtained during the transitional period should be considered.

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) called the RDE regulation proposal as it currently stands “very incomplete”, as what was agreed was just a partial set of evaluation conditions for real driving emissions.

ACEA calls on the Commission to urgently deliver a complete proposal for Real Driving Emissions by June or July at the latest for a positive decision in the regulatory committee. We need to make more progress on clarifying all testing conditions to ensure a robust RDE regulation could commence from September 2017. Automobile manufacturers remain concerned about the piecemeal approach the Commission is taking in preparing this proposal. This is not smart regulation. We need clarity in advance so that we can plan the development and design of vehicles in line with the new requirements.

—Erik Jonnaert, Secretary General of ACEA



None too soon, judging by the reports we keep seeing here about what the pollution is doing to our health. Naturally the Manufacturers hate it, and no doubt all those Eurosceptics around the Union will be screaming about more regulation from Brussels. Some people just do not grasp what it means to be part of a large societal group, and for those Americans who like to scoff at Europe, this does not mean Socialism, read Communism, in their minds. There is actually a difference.


It has to be done.
The previous testing was a joke and the smell of diesel fumes in our cities proves it.

However, it won't be without consequences - diesel engines will get more expensive and less efficient (at least initially), and it will be harder to get older cars through the new emissions tests in years to come.
(Lets say the new rules come into effect from 2020, then trying to get a car bought under those rules through emissions testing in 2025 might be a problem).
But we may well have other problems in 2025.

[ Lucky petrol and hybrid systems are getting much better. ]


This may be one of the best way to reduce harmful pollution from the air we breathe. Polluting ICEVs should be modified or taken out of circulation. Regular testing of older (and not so old) ICEVs is a must.

James McLaughlin

Compliance is not really that difficult, it is just time consuming to tune the firmware parameters. Light duty vehicles have not been required to test to anything other than the dynamometer cycles previously, so only a minority of models performed well under real world driving conditions. But I believe they all have the necessary hardware for exhaust after-treatment. The heavy duty market has been required to meets the NTE targets according to PEMs for some time, and they generally do rather well (at least the Euro VI models, Euro V was a setback for the urban duty cycle). It is a rather different situation in the US, where NOx requirements are more strict (well maybe everything is more strict except perhaps particulate count, I am not sure). The heavy duty models are confirming well in the US (now that Navistar's MEGR technology is history) and we have so few passenger car diesels compared to Europe.

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