Anticipating the WLTP

WLTP stands for Worldwide Harmonised Light-Duty Vehicles Test Procedure. It’s a recent change in legislation that defines the way vehicles are tested. 

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    WLTP: The basic facts

    The goal? For vehicles manufactured all around the world to follow the same standards for determining fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and any other pollutants they release. It relates to traditional, hybrid and electric vehicles. All vehicle lines, models and powertrains need to follow this new protocol.

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    Impact of the WLTP

    After the WLTP came into effect, some manufacturers were unable to continue producing certain powertrains for their vehicles; they resulted in emissions that were simply too high. Many manufacturers also experienced considerable delays after implementing the WLTP. The larger the vehicle, the longer the time delays. This left fleet customers postponing their orders—or looking for alternatives.

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    Are CO2 emissions higher now?

    You may have noticed that official ratings for CO2 emissions have risen. This is partially because the WLTP is a more accurate testing procedure. The CO2 ratings have been back-translated to a correlated CO2 value.

    95 g/km of CO2

    The WLTP is also being used in assessing the CO2 emissions of vehicle fleets. This is particularly important of a European Regulation aiming to reduce CO2 emissions to no more than 95 g/km by 2021. The assessment is averaged across a new, sales-weighted fleet.

    The corporate response, not just to the European Resolution, but also to the realization that CO2 emissions were higher than previously believed, and the increased availability of different technology, has seen a rise in the popularity of different types of vehicles with lower CO2 emissions.

    New models with lower CO2

    Older models were developed to consume as little fuel as possible. This meant they scored better results under the old system. But it’s not the case under the new WLTP testing conditions. As such, new powertrains and vehicle models have been engineered to offer better fuel efficiency.

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    Charging electric leasecar

    Mild hybrids on the rise

    Many manufacturers have decided to produce mild hybrid systems to further reduce their CO2 emissions. 24-Volt or 48-Volt hybrid systems start with an existing powertrain.

    They add a lithium ion battery the size of a shoebox and a small electric motor that acts as a starter and a generator for the vehicle. When the car is braking or cruising, the electric engine draws rotational energy at the wheels and converts it into electricity to feed the extra battery. This translates into a braking force, which also helps reduce brake-pad wear.

    When a vehicle accelerates, the energy is released back to the electric motor. It assists the combustion engine. And this saves fuel and lowers emissions.

    Unlike a full hybrid, a mild hybrid cannot drive on electric power alone. It still reduces a car’s CO2 emissions (under the WLTP conditions) by 8% to 10%.

    Plug-in hybrid and electric

    However, to meet the 95 g/km CO2 target, many manufacturers have needed to add plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and fully electric cars to their new sales fleets.

    This means the number of PHEVs is almost certain to increase in 2019 and 2020. At first look, they appear to be a much more financially viable option for you as a fleet manager or a fleet driver. But both types of vehicles will pose challenges.

    PHEVs are only effective if—and when—drivers keep them properly charged. Unfortunately, experiences in the Netherlands demonstrate this is one area that needs some work.

    As for fully electric vehicles? Drivers and fleet managers need to question whether they are actually the right solution. Like PHEVs, they need charging facilities at home, at the office and even in public. This means charging cards and infrastructure must be available. And this means you have a bit of homework ahead of you…

    Want to know more?

    The good news is that Athlon is here to help. Do you want to know more about the WLTP? Or about how to reduce the CO2 emissions of your fleet? Let us help you keep the costs down. And take a fully informed approach.

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