Have you already homologated yourself?

Maciej Pertynski, WCOTY, Poland

 

From September 2017 on, car manufacturers will be obliged to use a new test procedure for the homologation purposes of the exhaust gases emission: WLTP (World Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure). I have just seen – on examples – what its results are…

 

The assumptions are really good – to create a test pattern, the results of which are close to the real-life fuel consumption and real-life exhaust emissions – mostly CO2, which is directly mathematically related to the fuel consumption. And so, values gathered from this test are going to be so close to the real-life ones, obvious for each and every driver, that customers cease to complain about having purchased a product of different qualities than those promised by the manufacturer in brochures. Oh, yeah, super! The better even, that among WLTP requirements there is also this one: each model has to have its own data, test-collected for every version. Engine, transmission, equipment – all that influences the roll resistance, mass, so also the fuel consumption. And everything would be soooo beautiful, if not this naughty reality, which is not so eager to give in to bureaucrats’ ideas…

I have just been invited by BMW to Munich to a symposium as to how fast and capable this great brand is getting ready to fulfil the new norms and procedures. Two

exquisite professionals, engineers, showed me and explained to me two-hours long – basing on charts, figures and other demonstrative materials – where the NEDC is (contemporary procedure for fuel consumption and emissions testing, so heavily criticized by car users for no connection whatsoever to real life) and where is the WLTP, what is between them and how they relate to each other.

I was impressed. Really. BMW have accomplished a phenomenal job, have really prepared the whole operation to tiniest details – and when the new norm comes into life, customers (and of course the authorities who require those data, and these are those of the EU through Turkey and India up till Australia, but next are coming soon) will be given all information required by the new global standard.

But I have come to a completely different conclusion from this magnificent lecture. That BMW – presenting me all that with seismic, truly German precision and legalism, in the atmosphere of a total seriousness and thorough, meticulous application of rules – would not be able to ridicule the new norm more, even if they hired the best satirists and comedians and treated the WLTP like Monty Python did to the „machine that goes ping”.

Because the WLTP is the biggest bureaucratic zonk and idiotism, on a cosmic scale. Because de facto the executory rules require a separate type approval (homologation) for each – attention! – car specimen. One homologation for two or more vehicles would be OK only if these two or more cars were tip-top identical, including not only equipment and specification up till the very last part and accessory, but also tires (size and make/model). Because – attention again! – WLTP requires a car to be tested with every equipment detail (standard or optional or accessory), which may affect the fuel consumption and exhaust emission. Not only just what engine or transmission or tire size it has.

The result is obvious. A modern car has hundreds and thousands of parts which – installed on or under the body – impact the way the air flows around the car. A car, say, with pneumatic suspension has bellows instead of springs and struts, and those resist the airflow differently. A car with a spoiler above the rear window or a diffuser under the rear bumper has different aerodynamic characteristics than without these parts. Or if exhaust pipes are placed in the middle of the rear end – or on one side of it. And every one of these variants has to be checked separately – and homologated. ‘Cuz the manufacturer – in type approval documents – has to give the values from-till. How much does the car consume/emit in specs ensuring the lowest values and how much in the variant that means the highest ones. No guessing or approximation. If the manufacturer offers some part, some rim design, some variation of a roof carrier or spoiler, the manufacturer has to deliver data for a car specced like that. Each car. With each engine. Each transmission. On every tire type. And maybe for each paint covering its body, for you never know if aerodynamics of the car get changed if instead of the basic paint you apply the metallic one or mica or the „frozen” matt…

In the light of all that I was not surprised by the amount of money the speakers named as the total cost of WLTP implementation by BMW: 50 million euros in equipment plus 150 million euros in work. Of course, all that will finally be paid by the end customers, and not only those of the Bavarian brand – customers of each and every other make and brand, because every manufacturer has to go through these procedures.

But this is not the end. Cos if a customer buys a car, the customer uses it. And usually is not very eager to visit the authorized dealer of his car brand with tiniest trivialities. Like to change tires (winter-summer or old-new) or for new windscreen wipers. And there are x manufacturers producing such things, such accessories. And each such accessory – even this very wiper, that can be of different shape, have a spoiler or spray system – may or even surely does have an impact on airflow, rolling or friction resistance or mass of the car.

And so – 200 million euros is no big deal. For BMW. And what about the accessories manufacturers? Are they going to homologate their products for each car? Every wiper that we purchase at a petrol station – from Valeo, Bosch or Hella, no matter – fits at least several or several dozens of car models. And each car model may be available in several or several dozens of spec variants. And so, what: Valeo, Bosch or Hella are about to give (themselves or in cooperation with manufacturers of cars for which they produce their accessories) information on impact on fuel consumption and emissions for each of their products installed in every car it fits? Srsly?!

But a car differs from another one not just by engines, aerodynamics, tires or accessories. There are the drivers and passengers! And if so, do I need a single homologation for my 100 kgs curb weight, or maybe I should apply for another one for the time after I visit my Mom, who is a magnificent cook and demonstratively gets depressed if I refuse to eat all of the delis she had prepared for me? And maybe also the activities opposite from eating should be related to weight homologation? And so, it is going to be like that every time I take with me someone on the car? And do I have to switch homologations every time I switch places behind the wheel with The Very Best of Wives, for different weight distribution means different car characteristics!

Folks, only born bureaucrats are able to come with such stupidities, because they never need no help from professionals in any given field. Bureaucrats know better anyway.

And you know what’s the worst? All that is the end effect of complaints of the so called average customer, that numbers within the car’s brochure can’t be achieved in real life. So now we’re going to pay for those complaints…

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