Car emissions: AIR Index offers real-world info for buyers

  • New vehicle emissions index uses real-world testing
  • Existing emissions data doesn’t reflect real-world driving  
  • More than 90% of model variants are already covered

Air index car ratings

A new and simpler way of showing the emissions ratings of all cars has been launched. The AIR Index is said to be more reflective of real-world driving and gives more accurate data than current emission rating systems.

The AIR index is said to make it easier for drivers to see how ‘clean’ their cars are with a colour-coded domestic-appliance style rating. Drivers will be able to see the ratings of any car online by using a new online tool.

The Allow Independent Road-testing (AIR) Alliance claims that the existing World Harmonised Light-duty Transient Procedure (WLTP) used by governments to rate vehicle emissions is unrepresentative. The AIR Alliance claims that the WLTP underestimates harmful NOx emissions by a factor of 4-5 and CO2 figures by as much as 40%. NOx pollution reduces urban air quality and CO2 is a primary global warming gas. 

By using real-world data collected from thousands of vehicles tested in controlled conditions on public roads in the UK and mainland Europe, the AIR Alliance claims that the AIR Index system is a more accurate way of measuring vehicle emissions. The AIR Index rates NOx and CO2 emissions separately on scales from A to E.

The Greater London Authority has already committed to using the AIR Index for its Cleaner Vehicle Checker, a tool used in conjunction with the Ultra Low Emission Zone to inform buyers about cleaner vehicles. The Index already includes 90% of cars on sale and will be expanded periodically as new vehicles are launched.

Nick Molden, co-founder of the AIR Alliance said ‘reducing nitrogen oxide emissions is not the only type of pollution that is of concern, but it is perhaps the most pressing in the light of the systematic design problems of vehicles that were revealed by Dieselgate.’ The AIR Alliance claims that the AIR Index will be the most effective way to combat NOx problems with a minimal impact on car owners and fleets.’

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Air index car being tested