‘Carmakers are cheating customers’

Motorists are being duped by carmakers into buying vehicles which claim to be more fuel efficient than they really are, a new report claims.

Transport & Environment said Europe’s carmakers routinely abused tests on fuel performance and CO2 emissions.

The lobby group found an average 40% gap between the fuel and C02 emitted in lab tests against road driving.

The Brussels-based Transport & Environment said drivers are spending €450 (£331) a year more than expected on fuel.

Over the lifetime of a car, this adds up to an average €2,800 for additional fuel, the report found.

‘Carmakers are effectively cheating their own customers,’ the report said.

Greg Archer, Transport & Environment’s vehicle programme manager, spoke to the BBC and said, ‘There is a need for a new [emissions] test but what we’re also seeing here is a distortion of the current system.’

‘The independent agencies [in Europe] that oversee the tests are paid for by the car industry themselves. In the US, we have an independent regulator, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) that ensures they’re done rigorously.’

Transport & Environment said its findings meant that the car market was ‘massively distorted’ with cars marketed and taxed on ‘a completely unfair basis’.

The report, which comes just days after Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, suggests that the industry’s problems extend well beyond diesel cars and a single car manufacturer.

‘The Volkswagen scandal was just the tip of the iceberg and what lies beneath is widespread abuse by carmakers of testing rules enabling cars to swallow more than 50% more fuel than is claimed,’ said Mr Archer.

The SMMT responded to the report, ‘The industry accepts that the current test method for cars is out of date and is seeking agreement from the European Commission for a new emissions test that embraces new testing technologies and which is more representative of on-road conditions.’

‘We welcome the Government’s initiative to re-examine the automotive emission testing that has been undertaken in the UK. It is vital to reassure consumers that the cars operating on our roads are fully safe, legal and comply with all the latest emission requirements.’