Car CO2 falls but monitoring manipulation remains under the spot light

BEUC NEWS - 17.04.2015

The latest official report on EU car CO2 emissions indicates the automobile sector has continued to improve on fuel efficiency and achieved its combined 2015 target of 130 gCO2/km. This would be excellent news if it wasn’t for the growing body of evidence that monitoring methods are being manipulated, and in turn bringing into doubt the real life emissions reductions of car makers.

The European Environment Agency (EEA) has reported that new car emissions fell by 2.6% in 2014, to beat the 2015 EU target early and by a significant margin. New cars emitted on average 123.4g of CO2/km last year, beating the interim goal of 130g for 2015, according to the EEA’s provisional data.

However, in order to determine the fuel consumption values and CO2 emissions of passenger cars, manufacturers must use a testing protocol known as the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). The NEDC was originally developed in the 1970’s as a means to test air pollutants but has only undergone minimal modifications which experts say do not adequately recognise driving behaviour in the modern day nor account for technological advances.

Over recent years numerous studies  by consumer organisations, motorist groups, environmental NGOs and independent research bodies, have indicated there to be enormous loopholes in this testing procedure that can be exploited by car manufacturers.

And last year, the Italian consumer organisation and BEUC member Altroconsumo investigated the use of the current testing protocol and found that the declared fuel consumption and CO2 emissions of two cars tested were much higher – as much as 50% for one vehicle – than what the manufacturers are declaring.

As long as the current regime is in place, prospective car buyers will continue to be misled by fuel economy performances that cannot be replicated in the real world and it will be impossible to truly understand the carbon cutting performance of the automobile sector.

On May 6, BEUC is putting on a half day conference in Brussels  to explore the problems associated with CO2 and fuel consumption testing and what needs to be achieved in order to bring about a more representative testing protocol, namely the Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP)

For more information on fuel consumption testing see out dedicated webpage and new position paper.