The result of the obsolete and failing vehicle testing system in Europe is that consumers are grossly misled and deceived about the product they buy, there is huge damage to the environment from high CO2 and air pollutant emissions, and no level playing for the industry to compete on a fair footing. In fact, most passenger cars do not meet the limits on air pollution or CO2 emissions that are claimed.

Dirty Air

Since 2015, when VW was found cheating on emissions in the US, many more diesel manufacturers have been implicated in Europe with what is likely to become the biggest emissions cheating scandal in auto history. A number of national emissions investigations, notably in Germany, France and the UK, concluded that a vast majority of diesel cars sold and driven across Europe grossly exceed the NOx pollution limits in the real world. On average, the worst performing vehicles were produced by Fiat, Renault and Opel, according to the data. T&E’s latest analysis puts the figure of grossly polluting Euro 5 and 6 diesels at at least 35 million cars and vans sold between 2010 and 2016, or around 80% of all diesel vehicles produced in that period.

T&E's analysis of carmakers' average exceedance of Euro 6 NOx limits

Melting climate

Similarly, T&E’s Mind the Gap 2016 report highlighted that the gap between test and real-world CO2 figures has grown to 42%. The Mercedes A and E class are the worst offenders consuming on average 56% more fuel on the road than claimed in the sales brochure. Audi, Smart and Volvo follow suit and consume around 50% more fuel (twice the CO2 emissions on the road) than their lab test results claim, costing the average driver around €550 a year.

US 1 - EU 0

In September 2015 the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to the Volkswagen Group for installing defeat devices to circumvent lab emissions tests on 500,000 of its vehicles between 2009 and 2015. VW later admitted that 11 million vehicles, 8.5 million of which are in Europe, have been fitted with such illegal software, designed to pass regulatory tests while pumping out large amounts of toxic NOx fumes when on the road. In June 2016 a historic settlement with VW was reached in the US:  Volkswagen agreed to almost $15 billion partial settlement designed to do three things: compensate consumers for advertising fraud; promote electric vehicles; and clean up excess air pollution from the nearly half a million deliberately defective diesel cars sold on the US market for 7 years.