Consumers being mislead on emissions – with or without illegal acts

We set up Emissions Analytics four years ago to understand the differences in emissions and fuel economy between the laboratory test and real-world driving conditions in Europe and the United States.  Over that time, Emissions Analytics has tested over 1000 cars in Europe and the United States, including over 200 European diesel passenger cars, and makes this data commercially available to many parts of the automotive industry to help bring about a better regulatory regime and help rebuild trust between car manufacturers and consumers.

The illegal action of one manufacturer in the United States threw light, in dramatic fashion last week, on a European situation of higher than expected real-world emissions generated wholly or largely through legal activities.  Even legal activity, where it gives rise to misleading results, can be enough to cast wrongful doubt on a whole industry.  Having robust, independent real-world emissions data that can sort good from bad is the future, and we plan to lead this.

To summarise the facts in the European market, we have found that real-world emissions of the regulated nitrogen oxides are four times above the official level, determined in the laboratory.  Real-world emissions of carbon dioxide are almost one-third above that suggested by official figures.  For car buyers, this means that fuel economy on average is one quarter worse than advertised.  This matters, even if no illegal activity is found.  These differences may well be explained by limitations in the official system, rather than through illegality.

Emissions Analytics has been highlighting these issues for some years now, along with many partners who have analysed our results as well as similar data from other sources.  In order to make our findings more accessible and useable to the market, we will be launching an independent accreditation initiative, and we invite all interested parties to participate.