New research provides evidence that vehicle manufacturers are continuing to manipulate ‘official’ fuel economy figures.

That is the view of a new report by Transport & Environment (T&E). Its ‘2014 Mind the Gap’ report analysed real-world fuel consumption by motorists that, it says, “highlights the abuses by car makers of the current tests and the failure of EU regulators to close loopholes”.

“Half of the official fuel efficiency gains made since EU laws were adopted in 2008 are hot air.” It says that companies are producing official fuel economy figures in laboratories that cannot be replicated in the real world.

T&E says that, on average, across all car brands, the gap between real-world fuel consumption and carmakers’ claims has widened from 8% in 2001 to a staggering 31% in 2013 for private motorists.

According to the report: “The obsolete test is unrepresentative of modern cars and driving styles and is full of loopholes that car markers exploit to produce better test results. Carmakers produce specially prepared prototype vehicles for the test and pay testing services that help to optimise the results.

It adds that a new, “more realistic and robust global test” – the WLTP – is scheduled to be introduced in 2017, but EU countries are yet to confirm the date because they are “under pressure from car makers that want to be able to keep exploiting the loopholes in the current test rules until at least 2022”.

Greg Archer, T&E’s clean vehicles manager, said: “The gap between real-world fuel economy and distorted official test results has become a chasm.

“The current test has been utterly discredited by car makers manipulating official test results. Unless Europe introduces the new global test in 2017 as planned, car makers will continue to cheat laws designed to improve fuel efficiency and emissions reductions. The cost will be borne by drivers who will pay an additional €5,600 for fuel over the lifetime of the car compared to the official test result.”

Download the full T&E Report.


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