Carmakers accused of inflating new emissions results

Manufacturers are manipulating results of new CO2 emissions tests, in a bid to make targets due in 2025 less stringent, according to reports by Transport & Environment.

The independent campaign group says that manufacturers are set to take a short term hit in WLTP emissions results - at a time when there is increased confusion due to the retesting of models from NEDC to the new regulations.

This is because EU regulations have given an average CO2 emissions target of 95 g/km by 2021. However, the 2025 target is not a fixed number, but a 15% cut over the manufacturers' 2021 figures, so higher average CO2 emissions in 2021 will allow for a higher figure in 2025.

The situation has come about because manufacturers are able to inflate CO2 results under WLTP tests since they will still meet 2021 standards, which are based on the old NEDC protocol.

Transport & Environment's research says that documents obtained from the European Commission show manufacturers switching off stop-start functions, adjusting gear-shift patterns, and using depleted batteries to use more fuel.

Having been accused in the past of using unrealistic configurations to obtain fuel economy and emissions figures that are rarely - if at all - possible in real-world driving, the bizarre situation now sees manufacturers testing vehicles in a manner far worse than common, real-world usage.

T&E considers the only way this situation would be possible was if the manufacturers colluded with each other. Otherwise, one manufacturer could have tested its vehicles more efficiently, and thereby have an advantage with a model quoted as offering greater fuel economy, fewer emissions, and therefore lower running costs.

William Todts, executive director at T&E, said: "After Dieselgate carmakers promised to change and that new tests were the solution. Now it's clear they're using these new tests to undermine the already weak CO2 standards.

"They want to meet these with minimal effort so they can keep selling diesels and delay the shift to electric cars. It's a sad reminder the car industry wants to stay in the past and cannot be trusted."

"The only way this trick can work is if all carmakers work together. The Commission must extend the ongoing cartel enquiries to investigate whether there has been collusion here. Just fixing the baseline problem isn't enough, There needs to be sanctions to end the industry's endemic cheating and collusion."

T&E notes, "In the case of a car with CO2 emissions measuring 100g/km in a proper WLTP lab test – without the manipulation described in the annex of the Commission non-paper – the addition of 5% of CO2 emissions because of the manipulation leads to an inflated measured WLTP value of 105g/km.

"On top of this carmakers have been further inflating the values 4.5% by declaration, giving a further inflated WLTP value of about 110g/km – this would be considered the baseline for the 2025 and 2030 CO2 reduction targets.

"If a reduction target of 15%, as proposed by the Commission, is applied to this inflated baseline then the absolute target in 2025 would be 93.5g/km – a reduction of just 6.5% on the true baseline. In other words, the ambition level of the 2025 target is reduced by 57%.

"If the same calculation is made for the proposed reduction target of 30% for 2030, the ambition level for 2030 is reduced by 23%."

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Chris Lilly

Author:Chris Lilly
Date Updated:30th Jul 2018

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