Automakers are bracing themselves for added costs and renewed market volatilities as the next stage of Europe's new WLTP testing regime goes into effect later this year.
WLTP's introduction last September forced some automakers including Volkswagen Group, BMW and Renault to pull models from the market and halt output because of bottlenecks in getting vehicles certified for sale in time for the deadline.
VW, Daimler and other automakers are looking with concern at the next WLTP stage, which includes changes to the mandatory evaporation test (EVAP).
Volkswagen Group's sales chief Christian Dahlheim said that to pass the latest tests nearly all engine-transmission variations will again have to go through "time consuming" WLTP certification processes.
"Compared with 2018, we are confident that we can dampen the effects of the second stage considerably. Nevertheless, we cannot rule out temporary limitations to some of the models in our range in the second half of this year," he said.
Daimler said the industry has had little time to prepare for the second set of tests. The new regulations were only published in their final form at the end of November and, in the case of new vehicle types, required compliance already at the start of the year, the company said in a statement.
"It remains challenging because the effort for everyone involved with the new processes has risen enormously,” Daimler’s sales chief Britta Seeger told Automobilwoche, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe. Seeger is confident that the challenges can be met. "In 2018, we learned a great deal. We can now plan better," she said.
WLTP (Worldwide harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure) replaces the outdated New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) as the homologation process for new passenger vehicles in EU markets.
Some car companies are ready for the change.
PSA Group's Opel/Vauxhall unit said it was confident that its business will not be interrupted. "Opel took extensive precautions early on to ensure the timely certification of all models in keeping with the coming emissions limits. We expect we will be at all times capable of meeting demand, just as was the case in 2018 with the initial changeover to WLTP," a spokesman said.
PSA prepared well and suffered little disruption from WLTP's introduction. PSA's Europe chief, Maxime Picat, said earlier this month that the company's ability to meet last September deadline gave it a sales advantage in the second half of 2018.
A PSA spokesman said the EVAP testing would not impact its production.
BMW Group also said it does not expect any problems homologating its vehicles under EVAP. "BMW has set up a special project team with enough time in advance to cope with the considerable additional time expenditure required, such as making the necessary IT adjustments," a spokesman said. "The changeover process for the new type approvals is proceeding according to plan."