Following the emissions’ scandal, the EU increased its efforts in developing new and more representative testing of emissions standards. Ever since, the car manufacturers have wanted to learn what parameters their car designs would have to comply with.

The European Commission prepared a draft regulation on Real Driving Emissions (“RDE”) supported by member states. This week, the European Parliament’s Environment Committee opposed the adoption of the Commission’s draft. As part of a package of measures setting up the RDE test procedure, the draft proposed to raise the maximum car nitrogen oxides (NOx) emission limits by up to 110%. The draft justified this by referring to the need to take account of technical uncertainties related to the accuracy of the new Portable Emission Measurement Systems (PEMS) testing device. However, the Committee referred to an analysis made by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) which concluded that the maximum margin of measurement error with this device is 30%, and on average 18.75% rendering the raise of the limit for NOx by up to 110% unjustified.

If the European Parliament would follow the Committee’s reasoning in its vote in the 18-21 January plenary session, then the Commission would be required to submit a new draft by April 2016. This would put serious pressure on the timeline for the implementation of the RDE whereby a roll out had been envisaged in 2017.

The automotive industry might be the most disgruntled party as a result of this development. The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) Secretary General, Erik Jonnaert issued a statement saying that “the industry urgently needs clarity so it can plan the development and design of vehicles in line with the new RDE requirements”, denouncing the persisting uncertainty that inhibits any serious and conclusive design efforts.