Carmakers accused of manipulating fuel economy tests

15 March 2013
By Sofia Mitra-Thakur
Mobile version
Share |
Graphic demonstrating common ways carmakers manipulate tests for CO2 emissions

Graphic demonstrating common ways carmakers manipulate tests for CO2 emissions

The official fuel consumption measured in tests is on average almost a quarter lower than that achieved on average by drivers on the road, a new report says.

The report finds that this gap is growing and the principal cause is car manufacturers manipulating official tests.

The report, published today by sustainable transport campaigners Transport & Environment (T&E), explained why the gap between real-world CO2 emissions figures and test results actually occurs.

It includes a comparison of test results produced by carmakers and identical tests performed by an independent laboratory on six standard new cars.

The results show that the CO2 and fuel consumption figures achieved in official test results (that use specifically prepared cars) are on average 23 per cent lower than independent tests using regular production cars that do not seek to exploit flexibilities in the testing procedures.

These results match the difference between typical test results and real-world averages.

According to the report, there are about 20 ways carmakers ‘creatively’ re-interpret test procedures, exploiting loopholes and flexibilities in the current rules to boost the green credentials of their cars.

Among the tricks applied are: taping over cracks around the doors and grills; over-inflated tyres; adjusting the wheel alignment and brakes; using special super-lubricants; minimising the weight of the vehicle; testing at altitude, at unrealistically high temperatures and on super-slick test-tracks.

The report concludes that the current test regime is not fit for purpose and that loopholes in the current test should be immediately closed, with new cars and vans retested under realistic conditions.

Greg Archer, clean vehicles manager at T&E, said: “This new evidence shows that carmakers in Europe are cheating their own customers by manipulating official tests, which leads to thousands of euros of additional fuel costs for drivers.

"They are also cheating legislators, as EU laws intended to reduce CO2 emissions from cars and vans are only being met in the laboratory, but not on the road.

"The only way to rebuild this trust is by closing loopholes in the current test procedures, to ensure that cheaters never prosper.”

From 2016, T&E is calling for a new test cycle, the World Light Duty Test Procedure (WLTP), to be introduced and for checks to be made on new production cars to ensure they can replicate test results.

“Average emissions of 95g CO2/km in the regulation should deliver 95g on the road,” Archer said..

"Loopholes in the ways cars are tested and flexibilities such as double counting of electric vehicles using so-called ‘supercredits’ just weaken the intended benefits of the regulation and are not needed."

Further information:

Download the full report

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1607

"As the dust settles after the referendum result, we consider what happens next. We also look forward to an international summer of sport."

E&T jobs

  • Control System Engineer

    United Utilities
    • Lancaster, Lancashire
    • Up to £33415 + Comprehensive Benefits

    Provide ICA maintenance and engineering support to the Water & Wastewater Production

    • Recruiter: United Utilities

    Apply for this job

  • Signal Processing Engineer

    B&W Group
    • Steyning, West Sussex
    • Competitive Salary

    We are looking for a Signal Processing Engineer to support the R&D process on active loudspeaker products.

    • Recruiter: B&W Group

    Apply for this job

  • Principal Mechanical & Electrical Engineer

    De Montfort University
    • Leicestershire
    • Grade G: £36,672 - £46,414 per annum

    Join the Projects Team to develop and manage medium to large projects on the university estate.

    • Recruiter: De Montfort University

    Apply for this job

  • Advanced Commissioning Engineer

    National Grid
    • Nottinghamshire, Nottingham, England
    • £46000 - £57000 per year

    National Grid is at the heart of energy in the UK. The electricity we provide gets the nation to work, powers schools and lights everyone's way home. Our energy network connects the nation, so it's essential that it's continually evolving, advancing and i

    • Recruiter: National Grid

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Design Engineer

    Oxford Instruments
    • Yatton, Bristol
    • Competitive salary plus excellent benefits

    We are looking for an electrical designer to join our engineering design team.

    • Recruiter: Oxford Instruments

    Apply for this job

  • Skilled Electrical Fitter

    • Bolton
    • Competitive Salary & Benefits

    What?s the opportunity?   The Electrical Fitter will carry out manufacturing and test tasks within the electrical department in accordance with product certification procedures, defined workmanship  ...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Manufacturing Technician

    • Stevenage
    • Competitive Salary & Benefits

    What?s the opportunity?   As a qualified craftsman with experience in electrical manufacturing, the Manufacturing Technician will report to a Team Leader, receiving day to day ...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • Consultant Engineer (Electrical Power)

    BAE Systems
    • Cumbria, Barrow-In-Furness, England
    • Negotiable

    Consultant Engineer (Electrical Power) Would you like to play a key role in providing technical direction to the design of power systems on the Successor class submarines, which will replace the current Trident-equipped Vanguard class, currently in servic

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Supply Restoration Team Manager (HV/SAP)

    • Oxford, Oxfordshire
    • Salary: £37,588 to £49,645 + Car (SSE8) Depending on skills and experience

    SSE is looking to recruit a Supply Restoration Team Manager to join our existing team in Oxford.

    • Recruiter: SSE

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Technical Lead - Global Operations, Engineering & Laboratory

    Pfizer Ltd
    • Kent

    An exciting opportunity has arisen to join a dynamic team of professional engineers, supporting the development of novel drugs.

    • Recruiter: Pfizer Ltd

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶


Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T