Winding Down Drive Clean Light Duty

1. Winding down the light duty vehicle emissions testing requirements

The Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) is ending the requirement for light duty vehicle owners to obtain an emissions test prior to vehicle registration renewal as of April 1, 2019.

Drive Clean’s testing of light duty vehicles was effective at reducing vehicle pollution, however industry standards have significantly improved since the program was created in 1999. The retirement of older vehicles, the introduction of vehicles with cleaner emissions control technologies and fuel improvements were significant contributing factors that helped reduce emissions from light duty vehicles. We have found a steady decrease in the number of passenger cars that fail the emissions test from 16% in 1999 down to 5% in 2017 as well as a declining impact on air quality and smog.

The Auditor General of Ontario has also commented in the past to the effectiveness on the light duty program.

The ministry still requires that motorists maintain their vehicle’s emission control systems and will support this through improved on-road enforcement of all vehicles on Ontario’s roads.

2. Redesigning the heavy duty vehicle emissions testing program

We are also proposing changes to heavy duty vehicle testing to target heavy duty diesel vehicles such as commercial transport trucks while ensuring that Ontario continues to lead Canada in reducing harmful smog-causing pollutants.

Key proposed program design changes for the heavy-duty vehicle emissions testing include:

  • a mandatory test of a vehicle’s on board diagnostic (OBD) computer based emissions controls. OBD testing is the right test for today’s highly computerized heavy duty vehicles because it relies on vehicles’ own computer systems to assess the state of their emissions systems. This test will be included as part of the emissions test, alongside the current smoke meter opacity test.
  • reviewing the appropriate vehicle test age and test frequency. Currently vehicles seven years and older are tested annually. Heavy duty vehicles are driven longer distances and subject to more wear and tear, which could result in higher emissions if poorly maintained.
  • reviewing the test standard for visible emissions opacity. The current opacity test standard for newer vehicles is 30%. Vehicles achieving 20% visible smoke density are currently allowed to skip a test cycle. The standard and exemption should be reviewed to assess its applicability for all heavy duty vehicles.
  • increased enforcement of existing anti-tampering restrictions with regard to emission control systems that are in current regulations.
  • providing incentives to industry who consistently demonstrate cleaner fleets.

The heavy duty program design will also look at ways to reduce costs to taxpayers.