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Emission Verifications Tightened for New Vehicles and Added with Road Tests

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On 25 October 2023, the MOENV announced the amended Regulations Governing Issuance, Revocation, Cancellation of Compliance Certification for Gasoline and Alternative Clean Fuel Engine Vehicle Emissions Inspections (汽油及替代清潔燃料引擎) and the amended Test Methods and Procedures for Exhaust Emissions from Gasoline Vehicles (汽油汽車廢氣排放測試方法與程序 ). The revision highlight is an addition of provisions for Real Driving Emissions (RDE) in vehicle testing. In addition to laboratory testing, future new vehicle models undergoing exhaust emission inspections will be required to also undergo testing under simulated real driving conditions on the roads. This approach aims to make vehicle emissions testing closer to real-world driving situations, allowing emissions to be more realistically assessed and also for substantial reductions without tightening emission standards, thereby contributing to the improvement of air quality.

The MOENV explained that the introduction of RDE testing aligns with the current practices in the European Union and neighboring Asian countries. The implementation of a 1+1 regulatory approach means that vehicles need to comply with the existing laboratory exhaust emission standards as well as on-road vehicle pollution emission standards. As the testing method closely resembles real-world driving conditions, manufacturers are to further scrutinize and enhance vehicle pollution control technologies to pass these tests. This is expected to significantly reduce actual pollution emissions and hence lead to improvement in air quality. Moreover, the new regulations mandate that manufacturers will report only on-road vehicle pollution emissions starting from 2025, and that from 2027 onward, vehicles are to gradually comply with emission standards of respective phases year after year. This step-by-step approach aims to mitigate impact on the industry while further lowering vehicle pollution emissions.

In addition to RDE, the new regulations introduce measures related to automobile dealers, including third-party inspections, abolishment of the "model year" system, and encouragement of adopting the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP).

For vehicle model exhaust testing compliance verification, introduction of third-party inspections refers to incorporate verification conducted by third-party inspection organizations into the current mechanism where certificates are issued based on results produced by a testing organization. Such practices result in establishing a fair and objective inspection process and strengthening the user- pays principle. While government budget is reduced, it provides a monitoring system with which quality of a vehicle’s pollution emission controls is ensured before it is off the lot.

Abolishment of the "model year" system is based on the change that a vehicle’s model does not affect its exhaust, which means that there is no need to reapply for a new vehicle model exhaust testing compliance verification every year. This change is expected to cut down the number of current cases by over 50%, effectively reducing administrative burdens with simplified administrative convenience.

Lastly, regulations have been amended to include vehicles tested under WLTP so as to encourage automobile dealers to adopt it to control quality of in-use vehicle models during mass production. This initiative allows replacement of actual on-road testing with laboratory testing and therefore encourages automobile dealers to phase out outdated testing methods, ultimately preventing underestimation of vehicle emissions and encouraging production of cleaner vehicles.

Along with amendments of the two regulations, the MOENV will further grant reasonable transition periods and give incentive measures to automobile dealers for introducing differentiated management. Such measures help encourage automobile dealers to accelerate their transition toward net-zero emissions and simultaneously lower the emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases, thereby creating a win-win situation for both the environment and the economy.

Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, November 2023
Ministry of Environment