The new WLTP test cycle: Closer to real-world consumption

Oct 28, 2016

In 2017, a new procedure for consumption/exhaust testing is scheduled to be introduced in the automotive industry. The goal of the new WLTP cycle (Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure) is to harmonise testing procedures around the world. It is intended to deliver more realistic test results than the previous NEDC procedure (New European Driving Cycle), which was adopted in 1992 and introduced by the European Commission in 1996.

The NEDC took over from the Euromix method with its constant driving at 90 and 120 km/h and for the first time included precisely defined driving cycles to be carried out on standardised and calibrated test rigs. The advantage is that the results of the tests are comparable and reproducible across all manufacturers and test rigs. And it is not just the fuel consumption that is measured, but also the emissions, such as those of nitrogen oxides and particulates. This made it possible for the first time to set legal limits.

Yet the NEDC also has a number of drawbacks. For example, the effect of a car's aerodynamics - a key efficiency factor in real-world inter-city driving - is under-represented at the comparatively low speeds in the NEDC. Also, there is this: the NEDC does not apply in key markets outside Europe. While important regions such as the USA/Canada or Japan have their own cycles, China has additional procedures on top of the NEDC. In the case of a globally active automaker, this results in tremendous expenditure on testing and development as well as in a multiplicity of technical variants of automobiles that are to all intents and purposes identical.

For all these reasons, Mercedes-Benz has from the outset supported the efforts to introduce a more realistic and, if possible, globally valid test cycle.

The WLTP in comparison with the NEDC





Starting temperature




Cycle time/duration




Percentage of stops




Cycle length




Average speed




Max. speed




Average driving power




Max. driving power




Optional equipment of the specific model


is taken into consideration for weight, aerodynamics, rolling resistance

only wheels & tyres

Climate control




Test temperature



25 +/- 5

Temperature for additional EU test




Test weight


Vehicle weight plus representative payload

Inertia weight class

Other changes compared with NEDC in relation to


preconditioning, driving resistances, plug-in hybrids


Limitations of a standardised cycle: between local and global

The WLTP is closer to what happens in real-world traffic and offers a more precise test method than the current NEDC. It defines clear parameters for testing and thus delivers results that are more accurate, consistent and reproducible. Even so: a standardised cycle cannot fully cover the range of real-world consumptions and emissions around the globe. For example, there is too much difference in

  • climatic conditions between the tropical regions in Asia and the long winters in Russia. There are also seasonal variations.
  • Traffic conditions and traffic density in mega cities, compared with little-used motorways or country roads.
  • Road profiles from the mountainous regions of Switzerland to the lowland plains of northern Germany.
  • Vehicles - from small compacts in India to full-grown SUVs and pick-ups.
  • Driving habits and driver temperaments.
  • Use of ancillary consumers such as air conditioning or lighting.

In addition, it is planned in Europe to introduce a measuring procedure for Real Driving Emissions (RDE). This, too, is actively supported by Mercedes-Benz. It uses a portable emissions measurement system (PEMS) for measuring the pollutant emissions during real-world vehicle operation.

CO2 emissions of Mercedes-Benz: almost halved since 1995

European legislation has set challenging targets for the further reduction of consumption and CO2 emissions in road traffic: by 2020, the average emissions of the new-vehicle fleet must fall to 95 g CO2/km (corresponding to 4.0 litres of petrol or 3.5 litres of diesel/100 km) - measured according to NEDC. The method for converting the NEDC targets to future valid WLTP targets is currently being developed under the aegis of the EU Commission. The principle of "comparable stringency" applies, which means that the introduction of the WLTP should not result in any tightening of targets for manufacturers.

Mercedes-Benz is on the right track. In two decades since 1995, the average consumption of the passenger car fleet has fallen by almost half from 9.2 litres/100 km (230 g CO2 /km) to 5.0 litres (125 g CO2/km).