UK’s first Real Driving Emissions test centre opens in Northampton

A new £8.3m test centre designed to prepare cars for the forthcoming Real Driving Emissions test regime has opened in Northampton.

Real Driving Emissions

Coming into force in September 2019, the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test will put new vehicles through their paces on public roads in a variety of real-life conditions. Alongside the lab-based WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure), RDE was formulated in response to the diesel-gate scandal where Volkswagen and other manufacturers were found to be gaming existing emissions tests.

The new centre, built by MAHLE Powertrain, will use a new 4WD chassis dyno to simulate real-world conditions. According to the new rules, all vehicles certified for sale in the UK from September 1, 2019, must be able to meet emissions targets on multiple road types, with various payloads and across a range of altitude and weather conditions. The technology employed by the centre will be able to simulate virtually any real-world driving scenario.

“SMMT is delighted to see MAHLE Powertrain open the UK‘s first dedicated RDE test facility,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. “Together with the WLTP lab test, RDE is part of the toughest emissions testing regime in the world. It provides clear evidence that the automotive industry is delivering on its commitment to cleaning up our air while providing motorists with more realistic emissions and fuel consumption information.”

Real Driving Emissions

During the official opening event, visitors received a tour around the facility including the centre’s climatic and hypobaric test chamber, installed to deliver highly accurate and repeatable emissions results and data. According to Simon Reader, engineering director at MAHLE Powertrain, the centre will enable the company to carry out all elements of the RDE testing regime with the opportunity to bring further RDE-related work back to its laboratory, saving development time and cost.

“It means that vehicles can be thoroughly tested to the highest standards without leaving the country,” said Reader. “This will shorten lead times and costs, helping the UK to retain its reputation for automotive engineering excellence.”