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Change in the tuning industry: tuners caught in the WLTP trap

Revolution in the tuning industry
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D he tuners groan. Even the big ones, but especially the little ones. The black painters among them even fear that an industry could drift away. “WLTP and RDE destroy the tuners,” one of the bosses of a well-known German tuner complains. 'That brings the business back into illegality like it was 30 years ago.' That is certainly exaggerated, with emotions, respect for the unknown, maybe even a little fear. But it can also be understood as an appeal. To the authorities. To the Federal Motor Transport Authority.

The new method for measuring exhaust gas and consumption is shaking up the automotive industry. All manufacturers struggled and are still struggling with the switch from NEDC to WLTP. From the lax “New European Driving Cycle” to the more stringent “Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure”.

There is no legal basis

Since September 1, 2018, the new measurement procedure has been in effect for the approval of cars . The WLTP cycle brings more realistic and therefore higher fuel consumption figures for cars. In addition to the roller dynamometer, there is also road measurement - called RDE for 'Real Driving Emissions'. So far, this test has only been prescribed for models that are completely new to the market. From September 2019 it will be mandatory for all new vehicles. In addition, stricter exhaust gas limits have been in effect since the reporting date, which is why many gasoline engines need a gasoline particle filter. The associated high level of certification effort meant that some model variants were not available after the conversion.

The tuners will face several problems. On the one hand, the conversion to WLTP and RDE is time-consuming and it costs money. A TÜV report has become roughly three times as expensive as it used to be with the NEDC. Industry representatives speak of 21,000 to 24,000 euros that have to be budgeted in order to homologate a vehicle. “Huge additional costs,” groans a great tuner. The exhaust gas test in the laboratory has become a bit more expensive. What draws money out of your pockets in particular is the RDE trip with the portable emissions device to measure the pollutants.

On the other hand, there is no legal basis. Or this must first be adapted to the new standards. What kind of tests do the tuners have to pass? The same as the manufacturer? Or are the rules being relaxed a bit for them? So far, the Vd-TÜV leaflet 751 has regulated what has to be checked and how road approval is obtained. However, this only affected the NEDC up to the Euro 6b emissions standard. For WLTP and RDE the documentnot adapted to the new regulations. The authorities had enough to do to define the framework conditions for the manufacturers. The tuning industry fell by the wayside.

Double development

The committees around the Federal Motor Transport Authority are still discussing and meeting. Solutions are being sought. For a basis for performance-enhanced engines according to WLTP. As long as it is not there, the tuners have to homologate their cars according to the same rules as the major automobile manufacturers. Companies that upgrade, refine and sell a few hundred vehicles a year theoretically have to torment their way through the same process as manufacturers who sell a few million cars a year. These are hurdles that are difficult for the little ones to overcome. In the past, according to a member of a technical service, there were a few relaxations for the tuners via the Vd TÜV leaflet 751. An example of a reduced test scope is the exhaust gas measurement at minus seven degrees.

There are currently no exceptions. To make matters worse, the manufacturers document the test benches. The tuners, and also the small series manufacturers, have to stand behind and be prepared for longer waiting times. And hope that they will then be able to meet their deadlines at all. If a manufacturer does not deliver on time in order to seriously prepare an increase in performance before the test bench date, a loop has to be turned.

In some cases the tuners also had to pay twice. Example Mercedes-AMG E63 S. The 612 hp vehicle arrived in April 2017. Homologated according to the NEDC to the Euro 6b emissions standard. Anyone who had bothered to squeeze more power from the Power-Benz had to start over a year later. Then Mercedes-AMG installed a gasoline particle filter and homologated the E63 according to WLTP. For the Mercedes tuners, it means redeveloping. “A vehicle normally has a term of three to four years. When the half-life shrinks, it is an added burden for us. Then we have to allocate the costs accordingly. Our report still applies to cars with NEDC. But mostly customers bring new cars to the tuner. So we need a new report. ”

Looking for compromises

The WLTP test procedure extends over 23 kilometers (NEDC: 11 kilometers), takes 30 minutes (NEDC: 20 minutes) and is included driven at an average speed of 46.5 km /h (NEDC: 33.3 km /h) and a maximum speed of 131 km /h (NEDC: 120 km /h). It takes into account the weight, the effects of special equipment (components) on the aerodynamics, the rims, the rolling resistance of the tires.

So what if a tuner adds an optics package consisting of a front spoiler, rear wing and side skirts after an increase in performance? Does the modified vehicle then have to be re-examined? And again through the real-time driving test RDE? What if a tuner first switched a Golf GTI from 230 to 250 hp, and then at a later datelifts to 300 hp? Do you then have to drive the measuring backpack on the road for 90 to 120 minutes? Do you have to invest a lot of money again for a new report? The lack of clarity unsettles an industry. 'We assume that it will not come to that,' says a tuner. And if it does? “When you install a larger loader, nobody notices it at first glance. It will go in this direction, ”says another. Then it would actually drift away.

The optimists assume that compromises and solutions will be found for the tuners. So that the effort remains affordable. Some tuners have already expanded their business field out of foresight. For example, by being involved in manufacturers' projects for electromobility.

How will the tuning industry change? The supply is expected to shrink. In Germany. In Europe. You will no longer be able to afford to offer software optimizations for all kinds of vehicles from VW to Rolls-Royce. Because it takes too much time and costs too much money. It is only tuned if a corresponding number of items can be sold. That was already the case in the past, but is tightened by the new laws.

Prices go up

With strict rules, the range of accessories such as rims and body parts like Decrease wings. The tuners will offer and homologate a package. It is also likely to take longer for performance enhancements to develop. Because you can't cope with the increased costs all at once, but have to spread them over months. First work through one car, then the next. A tuner says. “The margin for tuners will go down, prices for customers will go up. Tuners who are export-heavy will save themselves the effort. ”That means: They prefer to export their parts and updates to Asia, the Middle East or the USA. To where the regulations and test mechanisms are slacker.

The manufacturers make it more difficult for the tuners to stand out through their in-house factory tuning. AMG or BMW M naturally offer performance add-on parts, wheels and tires with better grip. That makes the niche smaller. WLTP and RDE will make them even smaller. After all, there is good news. The new test cycle is also mainly run in the partial load range. The tuners optimize their cars for the full load range. Means: You will be able to homologate a WLTP-certified manufacturer vehicle with Euro 6d-temp even after the stimulus measures without major hurdles in terms of emissions.

The limit values ​​for a gasoline engine (Euro 6d-temp ) are the following:

Co (carbon monoxide): 1,000 mg /km

HC (hydrocarbons): 100 mg /km

NOx (nitrogen oxides): 60 mg /km

Number of particles: 6x10hoch11


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