/ Motoring

Major car makers respond to our Fuel Claims campaign

Car and magnifying glass

Alongside more than 55,000 supporters, we’ve been putting pressure on the car industry to tell us whether they manipulate fuel tests. 17 car makers have responded…

In the aftermath of the VW emissions scandal, we asked all the major car brands whether their vehicle testing methods were misleading consumers. That deadline has passed, and of the 17 who have responded, 16 have said they don’t manipulate emissions and fuel economy tests.

You can read all the car maker responses here, but if you want the gist of it, Renault, PSA Peugeot Citroen, Nissan, Hyundai, Jaguar Land Rover, Kia, Mazda, Volvo, Vauxhall, Honda, BMW, Ford, Toyota, Suzuki, Daimler (Mercedez-Benz) and Mitsubishi have all explicitly denied manipulating tests. Fiat Chrysler has responded but hasn’t confirmed or denied manipulating tests. And we’re still waiting on Subaru.


Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and Seat owners

If you own one of the affected Volkwagen, Audi, Skoda or Seat brand cars (there are 1,189,906 in the UK), I have a few updates for you.

The German government gave VW a deadline of tonight to submit a plan on how it’ll ensure affected cars are compliant with the law. And today VW said that a recall should start from January 2016.

The Government has confirmed that affected motorists will not have to pay more car tax even though they may be producing more pollution. And if car owners don’t get their vehicles fixed it won’t be illegal and you won’t be fined but, according to the Department for Transport, ‘it is in their best interest’.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has also said the Government is ‘taking robust action’:

‘The Vehicle Certification Agency, the UK regulator, is working with vehicle manufacturers to ensure that this issue is not industry wide. As part of this work they will re-run laboratory tests where necessary and compare them against real-world driving emissions.’

We now want the Government to immediately publish a timetable for a genuinely independent investigation and ensure anyone who’s affected can get easy access to redress.

Fuel tests you can trust

There are still issues around the effectiveness of testing.

Currently cars are tested using the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC), which was first introduced in the 1970s. The test lacks real-world driving scenarios and there are numerous loopholes which make the miles per gallon figures unrealstic when you actually get behind the wheel of a car. You can read more about these loopholes here.

The European Commission is planning to implement the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) procedure, where new cars will have to be tested not only in the laboratory but also on the road. The Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) will also bring a number of much-needed improvements. That’s why we want the European Commission to announce how it will bring forward these new tests by the end of the year.

When we asked, several car makers also stated their support for the introduction of new tests that reflect real-world driving conditions, including PSA Peugeot Citreon, Renault, Daimler (Mercedes-Benz) and BMW.

Do you want to see these new more realistic tests brought forward? And what do you think about the car makers’ responses?

Comments
Member

I suggest that best way to tackle exhaust pollution and reduce fuel consumption is to forbid all vehicles not limited to 70 mph (excepting emergency vehicles, etc). Many vehicles are already limited and they seem to manage prefectly well.

The other suggestion is a law requiring slow vehicles to move over or stop to allow any queue of following vehicles to get past. Caravans, farm vehicles and pantechnicons cause force too many of us to travel and speeds below the most fuel efficient.

Member

So Tim believes that roads should only be permitted to be used by people like himself , probably always in a hurry even when there is no particular urgency and the rest of us should just get out of his way. Does this not tell us something about Tim ?

Member

The outdated NEDC testing of fuel economy and carbon dioxide emissions is due to be replaced by the World Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) tests in 2017 and the Real Driving Emission test (RDE) tests introduced to give a measure of emissions outside test labs.

For lab tests to be of use for comparative purposes, it is obvious that they need to be carried out under standard conditions. Unfortunately car manufacturers are able to modify vehicles prior to carrying out their own tests. For reasons that I do not understand, this modification is condoned and is part of the reason that most drivers do not achieve the published figures for fuel economy of their vehicles.

It has been suggested that the introduction of WLTP testing would eliminate ‘loopholes’ in testing procedures, meaning that we might at last have cars tested under standard conditions. Here is an interesting article: theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/24/uk-france-and-germany-lobbied-for-flawed-car-emissions-tests-documents-reveal

I don’t think this is very well written but it points to the possibility of continued fiddling of tests after WLTP testing is introduced. I don’t think we will see useful tests as long as we leave testing in the hands of the motor manufacturers.

Member

I have a fiat Panda that I used just for commuting to work. Its a great example of something that does the job. However although the trip computer showed a very good MPG the on the road result was not quite as good. So I kept a mileage and fuel purchased log and this came out roughly agreeing with the computer. However when using the distance markers on the M1 to establish distance there was an over reporting of mileage. This was with almost new tyres supplied with the car inflated to recommended pressure.
It might be interesting to know if this is common.

Member

I wonder whether the apparent discrepancy is because the motorway distance markers [the short posts alongside the hard shoulder] are at 100 m intervals and there are sixteen to the mile. The large blue signs at eye level are generally 500 m apart but sometimes at 300 m or 400 m if visibility is obstructed by bridges or junctions.

Member

Try checking your odometer against your satnav.

Member
dave ireland says:
23 December 2015

that’s because all cars going over 50m kph show your speed as being 5 kph more then you are traveling at. for accurate speed and distance travelled, use your sat nav.

Member

“European Parliament demands car testing overhaul
PRESS RELEASE – 27.10.2015
On the back of the recent revelations that Volkswagen gamed US emission tests and installed so-called defeat devices in millions of cars globally, Members of the European Parliament have voted in favour of a raft of measures that would better protect consumers from misleading performance claims of car makers.

The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) welcomes in particular the Parliament’s calls:

– To introduce on-the-road tests in order to supplement laboratory testing for not only air pollutants but also CO2 (and in turn fuel consumption);
– To introduce conformity testing of production and in-use vehicles;
– For the information delivered to consumers on a car’s fuel consumption performance to be based on real world driving performance and not laboratory based findings;
– For further EU oversight of the type approval process and to consider the establishment of an EU wide surveillance authority;
– On the Commission to ensure a robust EU-wide coordinated investigation into vehicle test manipulation;
– For consumers to be compensated when they have been misled and wrong-doing is confirmed.”

It is a shame that the BEUC release prefers to overlook the fact that the “misleading performance claims of car makers.” are largely (excluding VW’s cheat) down to the EC’s own hopelessly inadequate, out of date and unrepresentative NEDC laboratory test specification. A continual attack on manufacturers rather than including the part the other culprit plays is not a balanced and fair approach from what should be an independent objective organisation (in my view).

However, the hopeful move to get tests done on a more realistic on-the-road basis is good; it will be interesting, though, to see how they manage to achieve a consistent real life test procedure for mpg that can be replicated world wide under the different conditions of climate, terrain, road surface, driving technique etc that can be standardised in the laboratory. Once a car is introduced I would have thought accumulated driver-reported mpg, especially from fleet users, would be more representative of the range we might expect.

It also does not mention the introduction of the EC’s Real Driving Emissions test, starting Jan 16 to see how nitrogen oxide emissions produced on the road compare with laboratory tests, nor the introduction of the new more realistic WLTP laboratory test to replace the NEDC one.