Real world fuel figures are a must for cleaner air

So you’re looking for your next fleet choice but what criteria do you use to help you choose?

If you’ve been heeding our advice you would certainly take into account the MPG and CO2 of all the vehicles you’re looking at.

You can then make the most cost-effective decision regarding Benefit in Kind tax, plus how much and how often it spends at the pumps – and the overall whole life costs.

However, news from the European Union could make us all re-evaluate how we look at all vehicles. Why?

Well, the EU has voted in favour of introducing real-world driving air pollution tests by 2017, which will give us a more accurate way of measuring driving emissions.

New procedures will require vehicles to be tested on the road and in traffic, rather than in laboratory-like conditions.

According to an article on air pollution I read in The Guardian recently, a staggering 400,000 people die globally of air pollution each year, so there’s no doubt the issue of air quality needs to be tackled urgently.

The new procedure agreed by EU regulators will require vehicles to be tested on the road and in traffic, rather than in laboratory-like conditions, as is currently the case.

This should provide more accurate, ‘real world’ Nitrous Oxide (NOx) emission figures for diesel cars, under the Euro 6 air quality standard.

Not quite a ‘done deal’ yet, the European Commission and member states still need to agree what the limits for the real world tests will be and whether the 2017 time frame for introduction could work.

The Commission already had plans to bring in a new, more accurate CO2 test cycle in 2017 – called the World Light Duty Test Procedure (WLTP)!

So how could changes to NOx emissions affect the fleet sector and what do I believe we should all be doing about it?

There’s no question that benefit in kind taxation based on CO2 emissions has had a positive effect on reducing the level of CO2 over the last few years – our own fleet is down to a record average of 116g/km.

With this new, accurate test information, could the same be true of NOx emissions?

I’m sure it would. It would help us re-evaluate which are the greenest vehicles. What cars are the pollution saviours – and which the sinners?

So maybe the reintroduction of 100% first-year allowances for contract hire companies leasing ultra low emission vehicles would be a good start. We could then pass on the savings to our customers. That would be a great way of raising awareness.

The subject of emission tests is, I think, going to come up again and again over the coming months and years. If we want to make sure we’re all driving the greenest, most efficient cars, better data can only help.