Federal Highway Research Institute


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Green NCAP

Evaluation of the real-world emission behaviour and energy efficiency of modern passenger cars under ambitious conditions

Passenger car during an exhaust emission test Picture: Green NCAP

In the field of vehicle safety, Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme) has been a well-known and established institution for many decades. It is an independent consortium under Belgian law with representatives from 7 European governments, consumer associations, automobile clubs and the insurance industry, based in Leuven.

Since 2017, some members of Euro NCAP have formed an environmental second pillar from it - Green NCAP. BASt is also working as a member of this initiative to actively support the further development of low-emission vehicles. In particular, plug-in hybrid vehicles are the focus of BASt's work.

Green NCAP is an initiative that deals with the evaluation of the exhaust emission and environmental behaviour of current passenger cars. The members from various European countries and institutions have set themselves the goal of evaluating new vehicles coming onto the market in terms of their real-world exhaust emission behaviour and energy efficiency - which also means their consumption of resources. This is not applied through a repetition of the procedures and pollutant limits laid down in the type approval procedure, but rather in line with the consortium's claim, to cover significantly more areas in the engine load map.

The paradigm shift that is to be achieved presupposes that a vehicle's drive system is clean and therefore emits as few pollutants and climate change related-gases as possible. At the same time, energy should be converted into useful energy as efficiently as possible by minimizing losses.
This was realised in the development of test procedures in the laboratory, on the road and in the setting of limits for the measured substances. For example, the speed, payload and dynamics were changed or a test was carried out at a low temperature of -7 degrees Celsius. Last year, a third assessment parameter was added - greenhouse gases.

Results for consumers

Illustration of a passenger car with a green exhaust plume Picture: Dominique Bruneton/Getty Images

All the results of the tests carried out on the chassis dynamometer and during real-world driving are fed into an assessment matrix. In the end, this provides consumers with a solid and comprehensive assessment of very different vehicles in terms of drive concept, weight and shape. The spectrum ranges from conventional combustion engines to bi-fuel engines, hybrid drives and purely electric vehicles. Even a fuel cell driven vehicle was tested in the last quarter of 2020.

A fundamental benchmark for the assessment is the halving of the current Euro 6 limits in the area of the regulated pollutants carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen oxides (NOX), hydrocarbons (THC), particle number (PN) and particle mass (PM). In addition, the climate related pollutants nitrous oxide (N2O), ammonia (NH3) and methane (CH4), which are not (yet) regulated in Europe, are measured and evaluated.

In total, 20 passenger cars were examined and evaluated in the programme in 2019 and 50 in 2020. The EU-funded Green Vehicle Index (GVI) project played a decisive role in this.

The Green NCAP roadmap plans a consolidation and extension of the programme over the next few years. In particular, the perspective is to be broadened from the current purely vehicle-related consideration of "tank to wheel" to the broader perspectives of "well to wheel" and life cycle assessment.