New emission testing could put a strain on new cars’ options lists

Individual options available on new cars could become more limited when the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) comes into force next month.

The WLTP will replace the current New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), and could affect the individual options manufacturers offer, as well as potentially changing cars’ tax bands.

Would you pay more tax to have a sunroof? That could be a very real scenario soon, when new emissions tests come into practice.

In what will be a first for the industry, each vehicle derivative will be given its own CO2 and emission figures – something often affected by weight.

As such, options that dramatically increase weight could push certain derivatives into higher tax bands, despite having exactly the same powertrain as a car without the options fitted. Options most at risk include panoramic sunroofs, heated seats and large alloy wheels.

It’s possible manufacturers will start to limit the amount of individual extras offered for certain models, although it’s more likely they will create new options packs, although cars fitted with them could be subject to a higher VED rate.

Could is force manufacuters to rethink their options lists?

However, with the possibility of every model having several different CO2 figures, car makers have raised concerns that it will cause confusion for those looking at new cars. For example, a certain derivative registered in September could potentially cost significantly more than it did just a month earlier.

A spokesperson for the European Automobile Manufacturers Association said: “If governments simply apply the existing CO2-tax scheme to the new WLTP values, they will effectively introduce a new car type to the market after September.”

EAMA’s secretary general commented: "National governments need to act to ensure that CO2-based taxation will be fair, since WLTP will result in a higher CO2 value for the one and same vehicle compared to NEDC […] otherwise the new test procedure could increase the financial burden on consumers."

Heated seats are another weighty option that could be affected by the new WLTP regulations.

Similarly, Greg Archer, director of campaign group Transport and Environment said: “You could end up in a situation where you can have a particular sunroof or heated seat, but that pushes it up in terms of CO2 and you finish up in a higher tax band.”

Many manufacturers already offer options packs in place of individual options, so it’s likely these will be tweaked to include items that could elevate tax bands; there are rumours that optional extras for the upcoming Seat Arona will be adjusted to suit the new tests.

Would you pay extra tax just to get the options you want, or do you think packs are already enough? Let us know in the comments below.

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