European Cars Not So Green As Claimed, Study Finds

eu cars pollution
Cars in Europe via Gabriela Insuratelu /

An official, recently completed European Commission study has shown that “European car manufacturers are exploiting test loopholes to exaggerate their vehicles’ green credentials,” as Reuters reports.

The bottom line: cars are not as fuel efficient as claimed — they cause a lot more pollution than is typically assumed and advertised.

The study was actually performed by three consultants and was quite rigorous.

Reuters writes: “CO2 emissions were 167.2 grams per kilometer (g/km) in 2002 and 140.4 g/km by 2010, figures in the report showed, giving a total average reduction across new EU cars of 26.8 g/km. The study attributed 9.1 g/km, or roughly a third, to the way testing was performed, rather than improved technology.”

The good news is that there’s work in progress to address some of the loopholes.

In addition to the 2020 goal, the Commission is revising testing law, but it is not expected to close all the loopholes. Globally, the United Nations is working on new standards.

“The Commission said new tests from around 2016 should “mitigate” the effect of these flexibilities on the gap between actual and regulatory CO2 emissions, though “some tolerances are necessary for practical reasons”.

However, in the meantime, the “cheating of the system” is costing consumers a bit of their hard-earned money — up to €135 ($180) a year in additional fuel costs.

“The cheats are confounding the lawmakers and deceiving the public,” said European Parliament Chris Davies.

Let’s hope the loopholes are soon corrected. The general problem has actually been quite well known for awhile, but now that it has been officially studied and quantified, there may be enough of a spark to get the correction engine running. We’ll see. In the meantime, there are always bikes, transit, and trains!

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is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy since 2009.

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