How standards contribute to the development of safe, smart and environmentally friendly cars

From 16 -25 January 2015, the 93th edition of the Belgian Motor Show (Salon de l’Auto) will take place at the Brussels Expo. For car enthusiasts it is the perfect occasion to discover the latest models and trends in the car industry. For a number of years consumers and car manufacturers have been focusing increasingly on safe and environmentally friendly cars, as well as on applications that improve the driving experience.

Cleaner emissions

In recent years measures taken by the European Union have greatly reduced the burden on the environment caused by car exhaust gases. New cars brought to the European market must meet European emission standards that are regularly updated and strengthened. For instance: the maximum emission of particulates by passenger cars according to the Euro 3 standard from 2000 was 0,05 g/km. This value has been reduced to 0,005 g/km by the Euro 6 standard from 2014.

These measures aim to protect public health and the environment. Particulates for example pose a serious health risk, because they cause or aggravate respiratory diseases.
The recent development of electric and hybrid cars is also beneficial to the environment.

Fuel quality control

In the interest of the consumer, it is important that the fuel quality – essential for obtaining good car performances and preventing car breakdowns – is regularly tested. The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) has published a number of European standards, transposed into Belgian standards, that specify requirements and test methods for unleaded fuel (NBN EN 228), LPG (NBN EN 589) and diesel (NBN EN 590). Additionally samples are regularly taken at petrol stations to check the quality of the fuel they dispense.

‘Connected cars’ and V2V technology for improved security and driving comfort

A very exciting new development is the so-called connected car. Whereas previously digital car technology used to focus on optimising the technical performance of the car, the new trend is to optimise the possibilities for the car driver to communicate and connect with the outside world. Compatibility of the different telematics systems involved is essential. CEN and the European Telecommunication Standards Institute (ETSI) play an active role in this area.

Some examples of ‘connected car’ applications:

  • automatic sending of an alarm signal to emergency services (eCall) in case of a major accident
  • remote control of airco/heating and vehicle locking/unlocking through downloadable apps
  • real time information about traffic jams, accidents etc.
  • self-parking
  • lane departure warning
  • voice activated mobile phone or gps to prevent distraction of the driver

Some car manufacturers are even experimenting with V2V (vehicle-to-vehicle) systems. Cars equipped with this technology can communicate with each other and exchange information about their respective location, speed etc. This allows drivers to be warned when another vehicle is in their blind spot, has stopped in a dangerous spot or is entering the same crossroads.

We can conclude that the car industry is constantly changing, with an increasing focus on the environment, safety and driving comfort. European standardisation plays an important supportive role in this field.