As of September 1, all new cars sold in British showrooms have to pass a new set of lab tests and regulations before they can hit the road.
The new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) and Real Driving Emissions (RDE) tests aim to reduce the emissions of NOx and other pollutants harmful to the environment.
The European Commission is boldly touting the new tests as a more stringent and improved way of regulating the automobile industry.
According to Elżbieta Bieńkowska, Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, moving towards zero emission vehicles is crucial for public health and environmental safety.
“That is why having new and more reliable tests for new cars is essential,” she said.
“And for cars already on the road, Member States must do their job, enforce the law and take additional steps, together with all stakeholders, to bring down emissions of the existing fleet.”
But the big question now, is how are the regulations going to impact the average British driver?
Terry Hogan, CEO of Regit, told Express.co.uk that drivers could now face having to dish out a “premium” when purchasing new cars.
New vehicles sold in the UK need to pass new standard emission tests set by the European Union
Mr Hogan said: “Consumers will see savings in the long-term, with lower running costs as the new legislation forces the purchase of electric vehicles over petrol and diesel.
Consumers will have to pay a price premium over current diesel and petrol cars, typically between £2k and £5k per vehicle
“But there will be heavy costs to be footed by someone – government or public – to build the infrastructure UK homes need to supply the high voltage needed to charge these vehicles quickly.
“The cost to manufacturers is significant, with hybrid and all-electric powertrains more expensive to produce, which will mean consumers will have to pay a price premium over current diesel and petrol cars, typically between £2k and £5k per vehicle, which isn’t affordable for many households.”
Mr Hogan went on to say that even with Britain set to leave the EU in the near future, the new regulations could be here to stay.
British drivers may face having to pay premiums because of the changing industry
He added: “Brexit won’t have a great effect as the UK has still committed to the Paris Agreement to limit the effects of climate change and vehicle emissions are one of the easier sectors to regulate.”
There is however genuine cause for concern around harmful emissions and the Government has pledged to ban the sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040.
A recent study published in the Environmental Research Letters journal, found that in 2013, 640 premature deaths were linked to high diesel emission levels.
The same study found that if diesel limits were respected, the deaths would have halved and if emissions went down to petrol levels, the figure would further drop to 110.
“Poor air quality is the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK,” a May 2017 Government report on tackling air pollution said. “That is why the UK has adopted tougher, legally binding ceilings for emissions of air pollutants for 2020 and 2030.”
Following the September 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal, the European Union has been committed to pursuing lower emissions across the board.
Jyrki Katainen, the EU’s Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, said: “The new emissions tests are a milestone in our ongoing work for cleaner and more sustainable cars over the coming years. But more remains to be done.
“The emissions scandal has shown that we need more independence in car testing, stronger market surveillance and the possibility for the Commission to intervene in case of wrongdoing.”
He added: “And we need to decisively pursue EU-wide efforts to foster low emissions mobility.”