New cars consume on average 42% more fuel on the road than advertised in sales brochures, according to T&E’s latest Mind the Gap report. Despite auto industry claims of their vehicles’ ever-improving fuel economy, the gap between real-world fuel consumption and official figures has grown from 28% in 2012 and 14% a decade ago.
Advertised and on-road fuel consumption figures continue to drift apart: over the last 10 years, the gap has tripled to more than 40%. Demanding fuel figures you can trust, Germany’s Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) and Transport & Environment (T&E) have launched their pan-European campaign with the online tool get-real.org. The website highlights the carmakers’ tricks to manipulate fuel consumption tests as well as costs and the environmental impact of cars guzzling ever more fuel.
Eight governments are demanding new vehicle safety standards in order to diminish road deaths significantly. In a letter to EU internal market commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the governments, including Germany, France and Austria, call on the Commission to mandate safety measures such as direct vision to eradicate blind spots in the upcoming revision of the General Safety Regulation (GSR). Such measures would not only drastically improve truck safety but also boost the global competitiveness of European manufacturers, according to the alliance.
MEPs from the internal market committee (IMCO) became the latest group to back reform of the flawed and obsolete type approval system for cars which is at the heart of the Dieselgate scandal. The vote came as details emerged of special treatment for Fiat vehicles in tests conducted by Italy’s official investigation into Dieselgate.
A new UK government report has cast doubt on the short-term benefits of driverless cars. The Department for Transport study predicts a “decline in network performance” once one in four cars become driverless. It said early models of the vehicles acted more cautiously and the result could be a “potential decrease in effective capacity” on motorways and A roads. The study did, however, note that should driverless vehicles make up between 50% and 75%, they will reduce congestion.
New real-world emissions tests for modern petrol engines have been backed by EU governments. However, the tests will allow a conformity factor of 50%, meaning new petrol cars will be allowed to exceed current limits on particulate emissions by half – to take account of uncertainties in the test procedure. Governments agreed to stick with the September 2018 proposed date for all new cars to comply with the rules.
National regulators failed to implement the existing rules on vehicle emissions testing, thus paving the way for the Dieselgate scandal, a parliamentary investigation has found. Members of the European Parliament's Dieselgate enquiry identified three main failures by the national authorities in charge of testing new vehicles before they could be sold: failure to independently test cars in order to verify their performance on the road; failure to search for illegal defeat devices despite clear obligations to do so; and failure to put in place and apply dissuasive penalties on carmakers.
By Greg Archer, clean vehicles directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: After many false dawns, 2016 is the year electric cars showed they are on a path to rapidly replacing the infernal combustion engine. There are now more than half a million battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on Europe’s roads, and annual sales are expected to top 1.5% of the market for the first time. While the figures are modest, Dieselgate has created an EV earthquake, shaking carmakers from their complacency.
by Julia Poliscanova, clean vehicles and air quality managerWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: In response to the Dieselgate scandal, 2016 started with a bang with the Commission’s type approval proposal to reform the EU’s failed system of vehicle testing. The European Parliament also flexed its muscles by refusing to accept the new on-road tests for NOx emissions that doubled and delayed the agreed Euro 6 limits – peace only breaking out when the Commission promised to make the limits stricter in the future. EU policymakers also agreed the new air quality law, the National Emission Ceilings Directive to limit the emissions from member states – although the final outcome was deeply disappointing.
In April 2015, Norway reached its goal of bringing 50,000 electric cars onto the streets – three years earlier than planned thanks to a generous scheme of incentives. Today more than 120,000 electric vehicles are driving on Norwegian roads. However, not every incentive works out as it should, so what the European Union can learn from the Scandinavian state?