Every year, more than 7 million people suffer premature deaths due to air pollution. Although Singapore has generally maintained ‘Good’ and ‘Moderate’ Pollutant Standards Index ratings, it is still working towards achieving its air quality targets by 2020.
With emissions from the industries and motor vehicles being the main air pollutants in the country, Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) began accepting a new, more accurate vehicle emissions test standard at the start of 2019. The new standard is based on the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), a process developed by the European Union for type approval of new vehicles.
What’s the difference between last year’s and this year’s standards?
The WLTP is a regulatory test to determine fuel consumption and carbon dioxide emissions from light passenger cars and commercial vehicles.
In a car laboratory test, the procedure attempts to mimic real-world driving behaviour by igniting the car cold as would a normal driver, having daylights activated, and running the engine at least 3,000km, among other standard specifications.
Before the adaptation of the WLTP, New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) lab tests were applied. Each test involved a single cycle of 20 minutes, covering a distance of 11km with two urban and non-urban driving phases, and averaging speeds of 34km/h.
In comparison, the WLTP test entails a 30-minute test cycle over a distance of 23.35km, covering four urban and non-urban driving phases, and averaging speeds of 46.5km/h. With newly set conditions that better reflect the on-road performance of a car, fuel consumption and emissions can be calculated more accurately.
Why did the government decide to adopt the new standards?
Having been designed in the 1980s, the NEDC no longer reflects today’s driving conditions. For instance, it relies on a theoretical driving profile and fails to take into account driving inefficiency due to traffic congestion. In other words, the NEDC test simply isn’t designed for current on-road performance. To meet Singapore’s air quality targets for 2020, NEA had to use a more realistic and accurate way to gauge the impact of vehicles on the air.
Keep in mind that the main sources of air pollution in the country are mainly emissions, meaning gases caused by the burning of fossil fuels, including those generated by transport. In a Straits Times report, NEA shared that “while Singapore’s overall air quality is comparable to that of many major cities of developed countries, we still fall short of meeting our air quality targets for pollutants such as ozone and particulate matter.”
What does this mean for vehicle owners and buyers and how much will it cost them?
NEA has not made the complete switchover to WLTP. It is monitoring international developments and working with the local motor industry to implement the transition, which will likely take place over a three-year period. Until then, the agency is accepting pollution emission results from WLTP, NEDC and Japanese JC08 Cycle tests for type approval of new vehicle models, as well as for reporting of pollutant emission values.
Potential vehicle buyers should be aware that to meet the approved emission standards, manufacturers may have to make changes to their vehicles. It remains to be seen whether the overall costs of new, compliant car models will affect and be passed down to buyers.
Buyers of compliant vehicles, though, will be entitled to tax rebates under Singapore’s vehicle emissions scheme. A stricter scheme kicked into place in 2018, factoring in the measurement of four tailpipe pollutants in addition to carbon-based emissions. Under this new scheme, buyers of qualified vehicles can enjoy a rebate of either $10,000 or $20,000, while other vehicles will either be classified as neutral or slapped with a $10,000 or $20,000 surcharge.
Buyers can also use the Land Transport Authority’s Fuel Cost Calculator to find out a vehicle’s carbon dioxide and fuel economy data to help in their decision making process. Another important element that shouldn’t be overlooked when purchasing a new car is comprehensive car insurance. DirectAsia policies are customisable so that owners only buy what’s needed and nothing more.