Case study

Reducing CO2 in cars through precision measurement

How we’ve helped Ford improve the way they measure carbon emissions and fuel consumption.


The Challenge: Reducing CO2 Emissions

EU legislations require car manufacturers to improve their fleet average CO2 emissions levels by 2020 or face a levy.

In 2010, our Powertrain and Vehicle Research Centre (PVRC), which is now IAAPS, joined up with Ford on an innovative government-funded knowledge transfer project (KTP). They worked together to develop commercially affordable procedures, techniques and tools to improve precision of carbon dioxide measurement. The aim was to embed the results of our research into the company’s vehicle emissions laboratory at Dunton.

As a result of the project, Ford was able to assess the effects on emissions of any potential vehicle enhancements more accurately. This helped them to reduce carbon emissions and fuel consumption in the Ford product range.

Our Approach: Developing Higher Precision Methods

The project covered activities designed to measure and control sources of variability within a complex test environment. These included vehicles effects, test equipment setup and driver interactions.

Our researchers discovered that speed and acceleration were not the only factors in accurately evaluating fuel consumption. They found that the position and movement of the accelerator pedal had an impact. And the accuracy of the vehicle’s alignment with the test rig was a factor.


The Outcomes: Commercial and environmental impact

Our research led to higher precision measurement of CO2 emissions in vehicles. Our methods were embedded into practice at Ford’s laboratories, where they doubled the level of precision. This was instrumental in Ford’s development of the Transit and Econetic range of vehicles. Econetic accounts for nearly half of Ford’s European sales.

Our collaboration with Ford’s emissions measurement laboratory has continued. This has had commercial benefits for Ford and improved our researchers’ powertrain expertise.

‘The project has accelerated the improvements to reduce variability in test measurements of fuel consumption and emissions. As consumption and emissions fall, benefits become increasingly difficult to measure, which is why this project has been so useful.’

Dr Phil Price, Technical Specialist, vehicle evaluation and verification, Ford Europe

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