Mind the Gap report shows cars are 42% less efficient than claims

Transport & Environment (T&E) have released their Mind the Gap 2016 report, showing that real-world emissions and fuel economy are an average of 42% worse than official, laboratory tested results.

The European environment campaigners say that the difference between official and actual emissions has risen from a 9% gap in 2001 to 42% in 2015, before expecting the difference to reach 50% in 2020.

T&E state that new cars have not become more efficient on the road despite car maker's claims, with a reduction in emissions having stalled for the last four years.

Mind the Gap 2016 average gap

Car makers have been using loop holes - and in some cases illegal defeat devices - to make their models achieve the official test parameters. The report says: "In 2002, exploiting test flexibilities accounted for just five percentage points difference between test results and real-world performance. This grew to 15 points in 2010; and 24 points in 2014.

"Technology that reduces emissions more in the test than on the road contributes an additional three percentage points to the gap; the failure to switch on auxiliary equipment during tests adds around eight points.

"Exploiting test flexibilities is therefore the dominant cause of the growing gap. In addition, new evidence emerging from the Dieselgate scandal shows some cars detect laboratory fuel economy and CO2 tests and illegally put the car into a low emission mode thereby cheating the test."

The report calculates that the typical European driver is around 549 euros (£465), worse off because of additional fuel costs when compared to the official fuel economy claims.

Mind the Gap 2016 Mercedes gap

T&E's report singles out Mercedes as the worst offender out of the major car brands. The 2016 Mind the Gap report shows that the Mercedes A Class and E Class consume on average 56% more fuel on the road than the NEDC certified figures. The C Class has an is on average 54% worse than claims.

The rest of the industry is not in a much better situation, with most manufacturers having an average gap between actual and offical results of 40% or more. Only a few drop below that figure, with Fiat the best reported on by T&E at 35%.

Greg Archer, clean vehicles director of T&E, said: "Cars that burn 50% more fuel than advertised are deceiving consumers and cheating environmental rules. Unless we want the Americans to do Europe's job again, the Commission and national vehicle approval authorities must investigate Mercedes and Audi and determine if they are using devices to defeat the test.

"There has been no improvement in the average efficiency of new cars on the road for four years because car makers manipulate tests to achieve their CO2 targets instead of designing the car to be efficient on the road.

"As a result, drivers are being tricked and forced to buy more fuel; governments defrauded of tax revenues; and climate targets undermined. More than a year after the Dieselgate broke, we urge regulators in Berlin and the European Commission to get to the bottom of this Autogate."

Mind the Gap 2016 manufacturer's graph

Because of the reputation of this report, Next Green Car takes this information into account when calculating a model's NGC Rating and other associated data. We also use real-world data supplied through our partnership with Emissions Analytics, to make the NGC Rating as accurate as possible. You can find out more about our methodology here.

To find out more about the report, visit T&E's website. Alternatively, visit NGC's Fuel Economy and Vehicle Emissions pages for more information.

Click here to use NGC's Car Emissions Calculator

Graphics courtesy of T&E. Top image of PEMS courtesy of DfT.

Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:22nd Dec 2016

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