The highest standard is attributed to a car that maximises the reduction of its own pollutants and greenhouse gases and, at the same time, operates at minimised fossil fuel and/or electricity consumption under real-world conditions.
Pollutant emissions from transportation are one of the main contributors to poor air quality world-wide, especially in cities. Air quality problems are known to be the root cause of many health problems and even premature death, so the need to reduce the pollutants emitted by road vehicles has never been greater. The natural resources used to power vehicles – directly, in the case of internal combustion engines or indirectly if they are used to generate electricity – are costly and should be used as sparingly as possible. To do so, cars should be as energy efficient as they can possibly be. And road transport is a major contributor to so-called ‘greenhouse gases’ which prevent heat leaving the planet and lead to global warming, so these should be minimised as far as possible.
Good progress has been achieved over the past decades through a combination of policies and measures, such as technological standards for vehicle emissions and fuel quality and legislation establishing strict air quality limits. Nevertheless, the under-performance of certain vehicles in real-life driving conditions, as opposed to their performance in a controlled test environment, mean that emission reductions have not always been as large as expected. Additionally, the rising demand for personal mobility increases the effects on air quality and climate, which makes further improvements necessary.
The pursuit of climate stabilizing goals and the technical progress in powertrain development are reflected by major changes in the fleet of new cars entering the market. Conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles are being rapidly replaced by hybrid and electric vehicles. The binding decision to fully ban new cars with petrol and diesel engines from 2035 is on the horizon, and the trend towards full electrification of personal mobility is set. However, in the next decade, millions of new ICE equipped vehicles will still be sold annually and these cars are expected to remain on our roads for many years to come. Therefore, it is important that they are as clean and as efficient as possible, minimizing the negative impact on the environment. The numbers of electric vehicles are increasing, but not all electric vehicles perform equally. Consumers need to be adequately informed about the energy consumption and related greenhouse gas emissions of their electric choice.
Emissions of several pollutant gases are regulated by legislation in the EU. All cars sold in Europe must pass type-approval tests to demonstrate that their emissions of carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, unburnt hydrocarbons and particulate matter do not exceed certain critical values. However, regulation offers no reward to manufacturers who go beyond the minimum standards of approval testing.
Green NCAP rewards manufacturers whose vehicles go beyond the minimum legislative requirements and offer excellent real-world performance.
Green NCAP uses a broad range of tests to address the flaws in approval tests and, through consumer information, rewards those manufacturers whose vehicles go beyond the minimum requirements and offer excellent, robust, real-world performance. Regulatory testing is a good starting point. Green NCAP’s tests are an addition and complementary to these legislative requirements.