Press Release

Demand fuel figures you can trust

February 02, 2017

A typical driver spends €549 a year more on fuel than official figures claim and the use of these “alternative facts” must end says the pan-European campaign Get Real – Demand fuel figures you can trust that is being launched today. Setup by Germany’s Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) and Brussels-based European Federation for Transport & Environment (T&E), the online tool highlights the costs and environmental impact of cars guzzling fuel. The campaign encourages consumers and politicians to demand realistic fuel consumption figures from carmakers.

European cars burn, on average, 42% more fuel than advertised by carmakers. The worst offenders, with an average gap of 54%, are Mercedes-Benz cars. This deviation has tripled over the last 10 years, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT). As a result, cars also emit nearly 50% more CO2 than claimed worsening global warming.

Greg Archer, clean vehicles director at T&E, says: “With cars that burn over 40% more fuel than advertised, carmakers are deceiving consumers and cheating environmental rules. New tests are not enough. They also need to be conducted by independent agencies in independent laboratories and approved by regulators who don’t turn a blind eye when carmakers bend the rules.”

Whilst the new CO2 and fuel consumption test (WLTP) is more representative than the current obsolete (NEDC) version, the WLTP test results still typically estimate emissions at more than 20% lower than what are achieved by a typical driver on the road. This is why T&E has been developing a real-world CO2 test with the Peugeot Citroen Group that is providing its customers with reliable information in showrooms. T&E and DUH want a similar test introduced as part of EU regulations on future car CO2 regulations to end test cheating. In Germany, according to a landmark decision of the Federal Court of Justice, every car owner with a proven increase in fuel consumption of more than 10% can demand that the car be bought back and compensation paid.

“The right to honest fuel consumption figures is being treated with contempt by the car industry. Not only nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions of diesel cars have been manipulated illegally, we also observe this regarding fuel consumption to an enormous extent. In both cases the politics stands back without taking further measures,” says Jürgen Resch, Managing Director of DUH. “First, we need the appointment of an official body to do independent inspections of the cars already on the road and check their actual fuel consumption by using a Portable Emissions Measurement System (PEMS) in real-world conditions.”

“The German government should follow the lead of the United States. In the US it is common practice that the official authority compels car manufacturers to correct their data when relevant deviations have been detected. The official authority also publishes information on the frauds it has detected and calls for high financial penalties. The car buyer needs to be able to trust fuel consumption data,” Resch points out.

Since 2013, T&E has been publishing annually its Mind the Gap report, which analyses the difference between official and real-world fuel consumption. The 2016 report shows that the gap is growing, with a clear acceleration over the last five years.

The campaign Get Real – Demand fuel figures you can trust is being supported by the LIFE-Program of the European Commission and will run until the beginning of 2020. By next year, the campaign will develop a fuel consumption app that provides information on the actual fuel consumption figures of current car models for all drivers. In addition, the campaign will analyse how consumer rights stack up in various EU states.