ARAI is considering to conduct on-road emission tests in addition to the ones conducted in labs so that auto manufacturers cannot manipulate results.
The last week must feel like an eternity to Volkswagen that was embroiled in the diesel emissions scandal which involves over 11 million cars globally. The issue highlighted a major discrepancy of the manufacturer that manipulated lab tests in order to comply with the stringent emission norms in the US. Clearly, the scandal has made most countries sit up and assess the situation with the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI), India’s official testing agency also investigating the matter.
The scandal though has prompted ARAI to make a dramatic change in its testing process for cars in India. The testing agency is now considering to test vehicles on-road with a mobile testing device for real-time emission results in addition to making it go through specific driving cycles in laboratory conditions. ARAI already has the emission measuring equipment that can be mounted on a running vehicle to measure exhaust emissions. The agency plans to use these results along with lab data where the vehicle is driven on synthesised cycle and correlate the same.
Volkswagen had used a cheat software on its diesel vehicles that would simulate the driving conditions inside a lab during testing, which would make the car behave differently and emit lower fumes. The company acknowledged that the results would be different if the emission tests were conducted on-road, which would have revealed the high NOx emissions. Under lab conditions, it was nearly impossible for testing agencies to find out about the same.
The cheat software did not show up in the Conformity of Production (COP) tests either, a self-validation process conducted overseas by manufacturers and is not mandatory in India. The real-time tests for emissions will also take a heavy toll on the fuel efficiency figures of vehicles. Currently, the mileage figures declared by ARAI are a result of the numbers achieved during the emissions testing process. While we all know how vague the fuel economy numbers can get when compared to real world conditions, the process could see the overall average fuel efficiency figures on vehicles taking a beating.