The CO2 emissions of cars sold in Europe dropped by almost 4% in 2013, reaching 127 g/km, according to data recently published by the European Environment Agency (EEA), which announced that the emission reduction target had been reached two years earlier than expected. The European Federation of Transport & Environment (T&E) recognises the progress of carmakers in reducing emissions responsible for climate change. However, data on fuel efficiency and emissions shows that official figures do not match.
Fuel consumption in traffic is 25% higher than in the reports submitted by carmakers, claim representatives of the European Federation of Transport & Environment (T&E).
This means that while new cars consumed an average of 5 l/km in tests conducted in 2013, their consumption on the road was 6.25 l/km, raising fuel costs by €350 per year for a regular driver.
The significant difference between the CO2 emissions of cars on the road and those reported in tests is caused by the fact that carmakers manipulate test procedures, exploiting legal loopholes and the flexibility of obsolete tests to highlight the environmental qualities of the cars. Suppliers from the industry prepared the vehicle tests using a series of tricks to lower results, like insulating cracks around doors and grilles, over-inflating tires, adjusting wheels and brakes, using special lubricants, minimizing vehicle weight, testing in unrealistically high temperatures, on super smooth tracks.
Tests for T&E show that, in normal circulation, in the absence of these tricks, CO2 emissions are, on average, higher by 25%.
“Fuel efficiency standards are the only effective policy to reduce CO2 emissions in Europe, but they are undermined by outdated tests. Test procedures are full of loopholes that carmakers exploit to exaggerate progress in the matter of emissions and fuel economy, “said Greg Archer, clean vehicle project manager of T&E.
The testing system is outdated
The current European testing system for fuel efficiency and CO2 emissions does not achieve its purpose. It was developed more than 40 years ago and currently maintains little connection to driving conditions and current technologies. For this reason, almost half of the registered “progress” in reducing emissions in the period 2007-2011 does not correspond to road reality.
The European Commission intends to introduce a new testing system in 2017 – “World Light Duty Test Procedure” (WLTP). This measure was strongly supported last year by Members of the European Parliament. However, the new system faces fierce opposition on the part of automobile manufacturers seeking to delay its introduction until after 2021.
“Member States should support the European Commission by rapidly introducing new tests to stop carmakers from misleading customers and bypassing regulations,” said Greg Archer.
EU regulations regarding CO2 emissions require automobile manufacturers to limit emissions to a maximum level of 130 g/km by 2015 and to 95 grams by 2021. Manipulation of tests contributed to achieving the target 2 years earlier. The intention is to switch to the new WLTP cycle using a conversion factor to adjust the target for 2021, so that it reflects the rigor of the initial objective without requiring any additional effort on the part of car manufacturers.