Electric Driving Range: What Is Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test (WLTP)?

What Is WLTP

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What Is WLTP?

On 1st September 2017, the new WLTP testing cycle was introduced, to replace the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) measuring cycle, which was introduced in the 1980s. The primary reason for the replacement of the NEDC testing procedure, was the significant difference between the NEDC data and real-world data. Bottom-line, the NEDC data had become increasingly inaccurate and outdated. The NEDC test cycle is conducted under unrealistic laboratory conditions, to include: uniform accelerations, uniform speeds, very low average speeds and long resting periods, resulting in inaccurate efficiency data.

The primary objective of the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test (WLTP) testing procedure, is to improve data accuracy and transparency. For the introduction of the WLTP measuring cycle, data was collected from 14 countries and based on 750,000 kilometres. The European Commission recommended converting communications from NEDC to WLTP from 1st January 2019.

Despite the improvement in data accuracy from NEDC to WLTP, in general, there still remains a significant difference between real-world efficiency data and those released under the WLTP cycle. In relation to battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), real-world electric range can be as much as 30% lower, compared to the WLTP quoted data.

Do keep in mind that a WLTP testing procedure is still conducted under a laboratory setting i.e. it is simulated and not real-world driving conditions. The good news is that unlike the NEDC, the WLTP uses more ‘real-world’ conditions for the test cycle, to include: higher average driving speeds, longer cycle times, longer cycle distances, faster acceleration sequences, maximum speeds and shorter/ less frequent resting periods.

Moreover, for the very first time, optional equipment is also incorporated for the testing procedure (optional equipment impacts the vehicle weight). Despite the improvements in the WLTP testing cycle, it still remains a ‘baseline test’. The testing cycle does not include the use of air conditioning, headlights, auxiliary equipment and the driving profile does not represent all driving conditions.

vw id3 electric car
The Volkswagen ID.3 (credit: VW)

For pure electric cars, like the best-selling Volkswagen ID.3, the use of air conditioning, auxiliary services, no of passengers (vehicle payload), weather, ambient temperature, road conditions, tyres, EV battery SoC and different driving profiles, can impact the real-world electric range by 30%. Also do keep in mind that the WLTP testing also include, CO2 emissions, which is relevant for a PHEV.

Though the WLTP is an improvement compared to the NEDC, it still falls short of accurate real-world data. At best, the WLTP testing procedure offers more accurate guidance compared to NEDC, but still has room for improvement.   

WLTP: Basics
Introduced to improve data for consumers on emissions and fuel consumption (internal combustion engines i.e. petrol and diesel) and range (electric cars).
The previous standard, the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) is based on laboratory tests i.e. not a good reflection of realistic driving conditions.
WLTP uses real-driving data, such that results reflect more accurately everyday driving conditions. The standard has been developed by the United Nations Party on Vehicle Regulations. Though, it is envisioned to be a global standard, Europe is the first region to formally adopt the testing standard.

WLTP: Testing Conditions
More realistic driving behaviour.
Assessment of driving situations to include urban, suburban, main road and motorway. 
Longer distances. 
More realistic acceleration and braking driving profile. 
Higher average and maximum speeds. 
More realistic ambient temperatures. 

Test cycle: NEDC: single test cycle/ WLTP: dynamic test cycle.
Cycle distance: NEDC: 11 km/ WLTP: 23.25 km.
Average speed: NEDC: 34 km per hour/ WLTP: 46.5 km per hour.
Maximum speed: NEDC: 120 km per hour/ WLTP: 131 km per hour. 

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Ashvin Suri

Ashvin has been involved with the renewables, energy efficiency and infrastructure sectors since 2006. He is passionate about the transition to a low-carbon economy and electric transportation. Ashvin commenced his career in 1994, working with US investment banks in New York. Post his MBA from the London Business School (1996-1998), he continued to work in investment banking at Flemings (London) and JPMorgan (London). His roles included corporate finance advisory, M&A and capital raising. He has been involved across diverse industry sectors, to include engineering, aerospace, oil & gas, airports and automotive across Asia and Europe. In 2010, he co-founded a solar development platform, for large scale ground and roof solar projects to include, the UK, Italy, Germany and France. He has also advised on various renewable energy (wind and solar) utility scale projects working with global institutional investors and independent power producers (IPP’s) in the renewable energy sector. He has also advised in key international markets like India, to include advising large-scale industrial and automotive group in India. Ashvin has also advised Indian Energy, an IPP backed by Guggenheim (a US$ 165 billion fund). He has also advised a US$ 2 billion, Singapore based group. Ashvin has also worked in the real estate and infrastructure sector, to including working with the Matrix Group (a US$ 4 billion property group in the UK) to launch one of the first few institutional real estate funds for the Indian real estate market. The fund was successfully launched with significant institutional support from the UK/ European markets. He has also advised on water infrastructure, to include advising a Swedish clean technology company in the water sector. He has also been involved with a number of early stage ventures.

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