From 2021, the EU will monitor real fuel consumption – in every new car

In the future, car manufacturers have to transmit data on the actual fuel consumption of their vehicles to the EU. That should create more transparency. Even motorists could be forced to thrift.

From 2021, the EU Commission will be required to monitor real fuel consumption for cars and light commercial vehicles. Automakers then need to record the actual consumption data of each vehicle and send it to the Commission. For the manufacturers, this increases the pressure to build cars that are economical not only on paper but also on the road.

The regulation is part of the new emissions test WLTP. The purpose of the Commission is to ensure that the fuel consumption figures given by the manufacturer are no longer as different from the actual fuel consumption as before. According to the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), the actual fuel consumption of new passenger cars has on average been 39 percent higher than the test consumption stated by the vehicle manufacturers.

Prerequisite for the transmission of data by the manufacturer is a so-called On-Board Fuel Consumption Meter, OBFCM for short. With effect from 1 January 2020, the OBFCM therefore requires all passenger cars and light commercial vehicles to be equipped with new type approval. This will affect, for example, new model generations, but also facelifts or new engine variants. One year later, in 2021, all vehicles for the first time must have an OBFCM. From this year, the transmission of data to the Commission will begin.

Manufacturers must submit data from 2021

Already today, many modern cars have appropriate technology. “What is new, however, is that from 2021 manufacturers are required to precisely record the data and send it to the Commission,” says Peter Mock of the ICCT. Until now, manufacturers have only used the consumption data for internal purposes.

The major manufacturers are therefore prepared for the change according to their own information. “In comparison to the certified standard values, there are regular deviations in real driving,” says a Mercedes spokesman. Therefore, support the new scheme and already have models with OBFCM in the program. BMW is also currently preparing for this, the company said.

However, it is unclear how the future data transfer should be technically implemented. “The exact procedure for transmitting, evaluating and using the OBFCM data has not yet been determined,” says a Volkswagen spokesman. Currently, various options for data transmission are discussed. The ICCT sees different possibilities. So could the data

  • be read out at the main inspection by TÜV and transferred to the Commission,
  • be determined during spot check cars
  • collected by centrally managed vehicle fleets, such as car rental companies,
  • automated, wireless and transmitted directly from the vehicle to the EU Commission.

“With automated transmission, responsibility lies with the manufacturer, and the risk of error through direct data transmission to the Commission would be minimized,” says Mock. The readout at the TÜV, on the other hand, would considerably delay data transmission, since in some EU countries the first main inspection is only obligatory after four years. On the other hand, random sampling or the collection of data from vehicle fleets would be less representative. Which way the Commission chooses is not yet decided.

Even motorists could be taken into account

It is also unclear what figures the Commission will publish. “It would be conceivable to break down the data to individual vehicle models,” says Mock. Then you could specify the real consumption for each model and compare models directly with each other. On the other hand, it would not be very transparent if the Commission only published an average of the difference in consumption of all vehicles in its reports.

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