September sees the latest ’68 number plates arrive, but it also heralds a much more serious change.

A year ago, the automotive sector’s outdated and unrealistic ‘NEDC’ emissions and fuel economy tests were replaced by WLTP (Worldwide harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) and RDE (Real Driving Emissions).

Completely new models launched in and after September 2017 have since had to be tested under the new WLTP system. Yet from September 2018, all new vehicles in terms of age have to be certified to WLTP standards even if they are models that have been around for a while.

WLTP and RDE are ultimately positive, providing much more realistic figures for CO2 and MPG. Yet drivers won’t necessarily notice a change in real-world fuel economy, as the numbers quoted in brochures have always been notoriously exaggerated, with plug-in hybrids, in particular, often marketed with 3-digit MPG figures.

Over the last year, various manufacturers have been testing new models under WLTP while retesting certain existing models. Many have gradually started publishing extrapolated or ‘correlated’ WLTP-converted NEDC figures through a process called CO2MPAS, alongside models’ current numbers. To conform, some have even redeveloped certain engines and several models have been discontinued, such as Jaguar’s XE S and XF S, and Porsche diesel variants. Meanwhile, production of some fleet favourites, like the plug-in hybrid BMW and Mercedes models, have been paused, and delays continue surrounding other popular green models such as the VW Golf GTE.

Navigating such confusion knowledgeably and efficiently in relation to car leasing is where engaging an established broker proves invaluable – and many of Champion’s clients have long benefitted from our guidance.

Upward adjustments in CO2 values resulting from WLTP will increasingly see some formerly popular models disappearing from company car user-chooser lists, with SUVs and cars with options like larger alloy wheels emitting more. Although benefit in kind (BIK) tax and other bandings aren’t likely to be calculated using, or based on, WLTP figures until April 2020 and NEDC figures may still be published in parallel until 2021; businesses are increasingly taking a total cost of ownership (TCO) approach and basing vehicle acquisition on available WLTP figures as early as possible.

The new, highly advanced petrol engines being introduced make a strong case, but the decision between these and diesel, self-charging and plug-in hybrids or electric vehicles still revolves significantly around annual mileages and usage patterns. With government determinedly encouraging electric vehicle adoption, it’s unlikely that WLTP will be allowed to erode the growing appetite among businesses and the public.

Words from Karen Christer, senior account manager at Vehicle Consulting

Karen has worked in the motor industry for 16 years. She specialises in cost savings for businesses, helping them to renew their fleet of cars and vans on better deals accessed through her experience and contacts. For more information around WLTP, contact Karen on 0161 431 0011 or