Group claims VW, others cheated on gas emissions

September 29, 2015
The firestorm currently enveloping Volkswagen over its emissions-spewing diesel engines could soon spread to its gasoline-powered cars after a new study found that some of the automaker’s vehicles consumer far more fuel than advertised.

Belgian-based watch group Transport & Environment released its latest Mind the Gap report on Monday, which analyses the difference between a vehicle’s stated economy and its recorded real-world mileage. The study focused on cars sold in the European market.

The study found that gas-powered versions of the VW Golf were spewing about 40 percent more pollutants in real-world driving than they were during lab simulations. T & D didn’t find any evidence of a “cheat” device like the one used in VW’s diesel cars, but the organization believes VW is somehow gaming the system.

“Like the air pollution test, the European system of testing cars to measure fuel economy and CO2 emissions is utterly discredited,” Greg Archer, clean vehicles manager at T&E, said. “The Volkswagen scandal was just the tip of the iceberg and what lies beneath is widespread abuse by carmakers of testing rules enabling cars to swallow more than 50 percent more fuel than is claimed.”

Wider than VW
As Archer alluded, the T & D study found that several other vehicles from a number of automakers were returning significantly worse economy in real-word driving than they were in lab testing. T & D specifically called out Mercedes-Benz’s A-, C- and E-Class vehicles, which the organization claims have more than a 50 percent variance between stated and real-world CO2 emissions.

The study found that on average about two-thirds of the fuel economy gains over the last seven years have been the result of cheating the system rather than actual improvements.

“This widening gap casts more doubt on how carmakers trick their customers in Europe to produce much better fuel efficiency in tests than can be achieved on the road,” Archer said. “The only solution is a comprehensive investigation into both air pollution and fuel economy tests and all car manufacturers to identify whether unfair and illegal practices, like defeat devices, may be in use. There must also be a comprehensive overhaul of the testing system.”

The United States hasn’t opened a formal investigation onto VW’s gas-powered cars, but the EPA has intervened over false economy claims in the past. Most recently the EPA forced Hyundai and Ford to revises some of thier overly optimistic mileage claims.

Photo by Mark Elias.

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