The car industry has a great way of throwing complicated terms at us car lovers and adding new mental hurdles for us to overcome; and the WLTP is no different!
So what is the WLTP?
WLTP stands for the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Testing Programme and is the new way of looking at the economy of car fuel.
The WLTP standards came into force in September 2017 and overtake the old NEDC (European Driving Cycle) which was originally introduced in 1997.
Originally the whole change seemed to be very confusing on paper, not least because the fuel economy of the majority of new cars seems to have got worse. However in reality the new WLTP tests have been designed to give a more accurate reflection of what you are likely to achieve in the real world.
One of the key differences between the WLTP and the old NEDC tests is the duration and the type of testing that cars have to endure. The old NEDC tests allowed for 11k of testing. However, the new WLTP ensures that a car goes through 23.5km of tests over a 30 minute cycle. Not only does the length increase, but the speed does too. The average speed has increased from 20mph up to 28mph and instead of just reaching 70mph, cars are tested up to 80mph. There is also a longer period of what is known as ‘extra-urban’ simulated driving, running the engine at higher speeds. Both of these subtle changes allow for both CO2 and MPG values for each vehicle to change.
Use WLTP only as a guide
The WLTP is not a road test, and is still very much a lab test. So it should not be considered a true and full reflection of driving conditions and emissions and of course, the MPG will always vary massively dependent on the vehicle speed atmospheric conditions, driving cycle and load. You can never quote an MPG or Co2 figure as testament; the WLTP should always be treated as a guide when you are comparing new vehicles to buy.
The changes have led to some dramatic changes on statistics that you can see on cars. Some cars that may have displayed fuel economy figures under NEDC test conditions of 67 to 85mpg will show figures dramatically less. The same car under WLTP test conditions will now achieve test figures ranging from 44 to 65mpg. Although this will sound dramatic, however it is a much truer reflection of what a car should achieve in the real world.
Of course, these new tests have upset car manufacturers whom feel that their marketing plans have now been made obsolete due to these lower figures however you have to admit; it is nice to have a honest results being published in which the car buyer can trust when looking for their next car.