Questions raised over car makers' emissions tests

Emissions tests questioned
21 Feb, 2013 4:36pm Claire Holden

The European Commission has accused manufacturers of manipulating official emissions testing to get better results

Car manufacturers have been accused of manipulating official testing methods to make their cars seem as though they have lower emissions figures than they actually do.

A report published by the European Commission claims that manufacturers could have doctored their testing methods, resulting in CO2 figures that are as much as 11 per cent lower than in real-world driving conditions.

The reports claims that there are a number of ‘tweaks’ to the testing method used to portray a lower emission figure, such as using smaller wheels to optimise rolling resistance and fuel economy. Testing a car with a fully charged battery was also cited as leading to a lower emissions reading.

The report also said that manufacturers regularly use the same track in Spain to test vehicles, instead of their own test track, because it had optimum conditions for testing coasting data such as a downward slope, ambient conditions and minimal aerodynamic drag.

The report could also have implications on the industry as it points out where regulations allow for discrepancies. It also mentions that while tests must be carried out in two opposite directions, it does not state that this has to be on the same road, consequently both directions of the track might be downhill.

Manufacturers were also found to precondition their cars before testing, ensuring certain components are fully warmed up and sealing any gaps between body parts by taping them up to help lower the vehicle's resistance.

While the report does not single out any specific manufacturer, it does suggest that these tactics are being used throughout the industry.

What do you make of the European Commision's report? Does fiddling the results bother you if it means you're paying less road tax? Or should all manufacturers come clean with the true figures? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below.

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No surprise at all, it sounds like its the test itself that is faulty.

Come clean please. The European Driving Cycle (used to compare a cars inefficiency needs a serious overhaul to bring it inline with real world driving conditions.

It amazes me that all new cars sold in the European market aren't tested by an independent, central authority.

The Hyundai-Kia fiasco in the US that now seems to be engulfing Ford shows just how easy it is for car makers to manipulate their MPG figures. Surely we can learn from that.

I dont believe for one minute that any self respecting car manufacturer would manipulate the tests to their advantage, it would be dishonest, but then again I do believe in the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and Santa. ;)

No surprise here! Makes a mockery of the UK's VED taxation system doesn't it? Makes you wonder how, e.g. a 2.0TFSI Audi TT can be cleaner than a 3.5V6 SLK or old (Mk1) 1.6 Focus when it uses as much/more fuel in real world driving. At least that's my experience.

Well I don't do many highway driving, much of it urban yet most of that in mild traffic conditions. I always +20% on claims and for my last three cars, it's been fairly accurate. But I could drive slower - one always could if time was not a factor - and this is probably how tests are carried out, trying to eek out as many km's from a tank.

A former colleague of mine worked for BMW. He told me that when BMW submitted cars to TUV for compliance testing, apparently, there were no raised eyebrows from TUV when BMW provided a production example with only the passenger seat installed and everything else non-essential in the interior stripped out, to get the weight down to improve the fuel economy / emissions test cycle results. He was told that "BMW and TUV enjoy a hand-in-glove relationship that produced the best outcomes".

Have to agree with the majority - politicians and their useless civil servants settled on the test which all c ars have to go through - If its not good enough or realistic take the blame yourselves NOT the car makers. ALSO Anyone else fed up with someone going to the press and meeedja complaining about their new cars MPG?

This is no surprise that car makers are fiddling with figures to achieve better CO2 rating because it brings lower company tax, lower road tax and lower fuel consumption. But the test is flawed. Same cars in the US emissions tests fare differently. Surprise! Surprise!

Hyubdai fiddle them along with most of the others I get 35mpg should be 48mpg

Such a BIG a surprise!

What exactly do you expect?

If the EU set a test, then all the manufacturer's will optimize their cars to maximize said test.

Problem here is the std drive test was never meant to be used as the definitive TAX setting instrument.

Any manufacturer that's not optimising their cars to to the test would be committing commercial suicide.

So this is the the EU ... the most corrupt organisation in the world with unelected leaders,unaudited accounts where employees get huge salaries and pay little or no tax .... criticising the motor industry for 'cheating' on CO2 levels ... AGW itself the biggest scam on the planet!

It's quite simple - the regulations need to be tightened up to prevent the gaming ploys that the manufacturers use.

The intent of the regulations is clearly laudable - to give people an objective way of comparing products so that they can select the one that suits their objectives best. That way the marketplace can work effectively so that manufacturers have a clear incentive to improve their products. Without an objective basis for comparison this cannot happen (as was the case in the past).

However it is essential that the regulations are as clearly worded as possible and this is, as always, an iterative process - sounds like an iteration is needed right now.

It doesn't matter what you think about global warming or anything else - it is totally clear that for manufacturers to be competing on the energy efficiency of their products is very important for all of us and these regulations play their part in this.

The government are missing a trick here. Imagine how easily the tests would pay for themselves if all those cars scraping into The lower tax bracket were bumped up into the next tax bracket with a fair test done by the government.

Sounds good to me if the manufacturer is trying its best to beat the government's stupid arbitrary CO2 tax bands for the benefit of the consumer.

dont really care..

I dont trust them all... media and manufactuers. Surprised this week that a Journo reported 7liters/ 100km for Ford Fiesta 1 litre ecoboost. Figures actually recorded by some for cars like BMW 330i. how is that possible? Why not fund the NCAP to extend its work from safety to emmissions and economy too/