Posts

Porsche

Hot air: the worst cars for real-world CO2 emissions

PorscheSince the Volkswagen emissions scandal, the spotlight has been focused on the real world emissions of cars, rather than those produced in a lab. As Volkswagen proved, you can post exceptional results under test conditions, only for the reality to be very different indeed.

One organisation is taking a lead. Vehicle testing firm Emissions Analytics is checking the tailpipe emissions of every new car on sale, under its EQUA initiative. It’s already published data for NOx and carbon monoxide: now, it has released the findings of its latest tests for CO2 emissions – which shows car brands overall are missing their target by a whopping 39%. And some are worse still…

The British company’s number-crunching has created two figures: an indication the actual real-world CO2 for all cars on sale, plus a ‘variance factor’ that reveals by how much the real world varies from the official figure. Call this an ‘honesty rating’: 1 is most honest, 5 is least honest.

All new cars are sold with a quoted CO2 figure, which is used to calculate road tax and company car tax. But as Emissions Analytics shows, the cars of certain brands are performing far worse in reality than the figure suggest…

The car manufacturers with the highest real-world CO2

Emissions Analytics

First, to the car brands that produce the most CO2 in the real world, as opposed to a sterile and fully-controlled test bench. These makes of car are, simply put, the very biggest emitters of CO2. They’re the global warming anti-heroes.

10: Audi – 191g/km

Audi

Surprisingly, for all its TDI diesel engines and e-tron plug-in hybrids, it’s Audi that has the 10th highest real-world CO2 figure. Blame all those big Q5s and Q7s, plus the R8 supercar? Well, yes, but also blame an EQUA variance factor ‘honesty rating’ of 2.7 over what its official NEDC figures state and how the cars perform in real life. Remember, 1 is most honest and 5 is least honest.

9: Jeep – 200g/km

Jeep

Jeep is an SUV manufacturer. It makes big, thirsty 4x4s. So it’s perhaps no surprise to see it appear in the CO2 emissions bad books. It’s not all bad news though: when Jeep says it’s bad in official figures, the real-world figures at least prove it’s being honest – its variance factor is just 1.1, compared to Audi’s 2.7.

8: SsangYong – 206g/km

SsangYong

Nearly all of SsangYong’s cars are big, too: the smallest car it makes is the Nissan Qashqai-rivalling Tivoli. Jeep’s are generally bigger though, and both its overall CO2 figure and the real-world variance over claims are better than SsangYong’s…

7: Jaguar – 207g/km

Jaguar

Jaguar’s cars are sporty and premium. The XE has yet to have a big impact on the range, so its overall brand CO2 is driven up by the XF, the F-Type, the XJ. CO2 emissions that vary by 2.5 times over official figures aren’t so clever either, though.

6: Lexus – 211g/km

Lexus

Jaguar produces less CO2 than Lexus? Hang on a minute, surely that’s not right – Lexus is the brand of the hybrid, after all? Well, yes, but it’s also a brand that sells a lot of RX SUVs. A lower variance factor of 1.9 isn’t enough to offset that – oh, and the fact it doesn’t sell CO2-cutting diesels, either.

5: Infiniti – 213g/km

08_infiniti

This is a poor result for Infiniti. According to Emissions Analytics, its quoted CO2 figures underplay the real-world CO2 of its cars by an ‘honesty factor’ of 3.6. The everyday CO2 of its cars is a stonking 213g/km, meaning it puts out more carbon dioxide as a brand than 4×4 specialist Jeep. We thought this brand was meant to be the smart-thinker’s alternative?

4: Subaru – 214g/km

Subaru

Subaru’s turbo boxer engines sound good in the real world, but you’re best listening to them from a safe distance: their actual CO2 emissions are much higher than the claimed figures.

3: Land Rover – 223g/km

Land Rover

Like Jeep, Land Rover only makes SUVs. Big, posh, heavy SUVs, like the Range Rover and Discovery. The Evoque has helped bring down its range-average CO2 figures, but a variance factor of 2.6 pushes it back up again: bronze medal in the list of manufacturers with the highest real-world CO2.

2: Porsche – 240g/km

Porsche

Porsche’s sports cars are naturally rather thirsty, and so naturally put out a lot of CO2. Even the slowest, cheapest 911 does 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds – you don’t get such performance without using a bit more fuel than average. Its range CO2 figures are pushed up further in the real world due to a variance factor of 2.0 over what it claims, too.

1: Aston Martin – 314g/km

Aston Martin

It’s perhaps no surprise to find a supercar manufacturer tops the list of the brands with the highest real-world CO2. Aston Martin’s cars all have V8s and V12s, after all. What’s positive for the brand is that its variance factor is a mere 1.0 – it says it’s bad, but it’s very honest when it says this, too.

And now it’s onto the brands whose CO2 figures mysteriously show the biggest variance in the real world compared to what they can achieve in the lab – this is precisely what let Volkswagen down…

The car manufacturers with the biggest real-world variance to official CO2 figures

Ford

Car manufacturers blame the flawed NEDC test. Campaign groups say there’s something fishy going on. Experts say brands have simply learnt how to best perfect cars to do well in the very-limited-scope official emissions test, without resorting to cheating.

Whatever the reason, there’s no denying the real-world results are often very different to what’s officially claimed in the legislated CO2 figures. And here are the worst offenders – the brands with the worst ‘honesty ratings’.

Chrysler – 3.1 times variance factor

Chrysler

American brand Chrysler benefits from being part of Fiat, which includes sharing Fiat engines. Which, according to Emissions Analytics, aren’t quite as green in real life as the test figures claim. Another reason for the brand being withdrawn from the UK?

Peugeot – 3.1 times variance factor

Peugeot

Peugeot’s real-world CO2 figures also vary over claimed statistics by a hefty factor of 3.1. And this, from a brand that’s committed to releasing real-world economy statistics for its cars. How long before customers force it to cut down this yawning variance?

Renault – 3.1 times variance factor

Renault

Renault’s HQ was raided by investigators looking into evidence of emissions test skulduggery. We’ve heard nothing since so clearly there’s nothing to report – but news of a real-world variance factor of 3.1 over claimed figures should still provide food for thought.

Volvo – 3.2 times variance factor

Volvo

Volvo prides itself on being a safe, upstanding brand, and part of this sensible-shoes image is serving up great MPG and low CO2 figures. This image takes a bit of a dent, though, as Emissions Analytics finds an honesty rating of 3.2 over what it says and what real-world figures say.

Fiat – 3.4 times variance factor

Fiat

Fiat’s range is dominated by small cars such as the 500 and Panda, models that will be bought to use mainly in city centres and to save fuel. Pity, then, the honesty rating of 3.4 suggests the real-world CO2 is not very likely to come close to what the official figures say…

Ford – 3.4 times variance factor

Ford

This is a significant result, because Ford is Britain’s best-selling car brand. According to Emissions Analytics, its CO2 figures have a variance factor ‘honesty rating’ of 3.4 compared to the official claimed NEDC figures, indicating that in the real world, its cars are not very likely to get close to the official stats.

Infiniti – 3.6 times variance factor

Infiniti

Remember, Infiniti emits one of the highest amounts of CO2: a variance factor of 3.6 suggests it’s less honest in the real world than the figures say it is. It’s not an enviable position for the premium challenger to be.

Alfa Romeo – 3.6 times variance factor

Alfa Romeo

Alfa joins Infiniti on the third-place spot in the honesty rating league table. The firm has to date sold just two cars, the Giulietta and the Mito: will the arrival of the fancy new Giulia help improve matters for the sporty Italian brand? It’s also significant in being the third Fiat Auto brand in the bottom 10…

DS – 4.7 times variance factor

DS

The second-worst car brand for real-world CO2 diverging from the official figures is posh Citroen sister company DS. As Citroen itself isn’t among the bottom 10 (indeed, the C3 diesel is the only car to achieve the best-possible A1 rating), we’re not quite sure why this is so – perhaps the diesel-hybrid DS 5 is having an effect? Whatever the cause, it’s worth bearing in mind if you’re buying a DS with low CO2 in mind.

Smart – 5.0 times variance factor

Smart

The least honest brand for real-world CO2 figures? Surprisingly, it’s Smart – makers of the urban-hero Fortwo city car. Smart’s real-world CO2 is the furthest from the official rating of any manufacturer on sale, by the maximum-possible variance factor ‘honesty rating’ of 5.0, which means its real-world fuel economy is likely to be least like the glowing official stats as well. You may think you’re doing your bit for global warming by choosing a Smart, but the planet in reality might not thank you.

We're not buying enough electric cars

Smart electric drive

The government is unlikely to meet its climate change targets and it’s all our fault. Put simply, we’re not buying enough electric cars.

Generous subsidies aren’t enough of an incentive for us to buy EVs in the numbers expected, as Britain struggles to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 compared with 1990 levels.

In basic terms, around 60% of all cars and lorries on the roads of Britain must be all-electric by the year 2030. Crucially, ultra-low emission vehicles should make up 9% of the overall fleet by the start of the next decade.

Mary Creagh, who chairs the environmental audit committee, said: “We need 9% of all new cars to be ultra-low emission vehicles by 2020 if we’re going to meet our climate change targets at the lowest cost to the public. But the department’s forecasts show it will get only half way to this target.”

The Department for Transport (DfT) expects between 3% and 7% of cars to be electric by the end of the decade.

At present, electric vehicles account for less than 1% of new car sales, despite the government offering up to £4,500 towards the cost of an EV. Part of the problem is the lack of a charging infrastructure, with the majority of public charging points found in London.

Mrs Creagh went on to say: “This failure risks making it more expensive to meet our long-term carbon reduction targets. With no strategy, we have no confidence that the DfT will meet this target.”

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), told the Guardian that ‘manufacturers were investing billions of pounds in developing new electric and hybrid vehicles’ and pointed to the increase in the number of electric vehicles available to the public.

Last month, campaign group Go Ultra Low argued that motorists in the UK are buying more electric vehicles than ever, with year-to-date electric car registrations up 31.8% compared with the first six months of 2015.

Close to 70,000 units have been registered since the government introduced its Plug-in Car Grant in January 2011. The Nissan Leaf remains the most popular all-electric vehicle, with 2,336 registrations in the first half of 2016.

The availability of the Plug-in Grant has been extended to March 2018, by which time we’ll know if Britain is any closer to meeting its emissions targets. Don’t hold your breath.

We’re not buying enough electric cars

Smart electric drive

The government is unlikely to meet its climate change targets and it’s all our fault. Put simply, we’re not buying enough electric cars.

Generous subsidies aren’t enough of an incentive for us to buy EVs in the numbers expected, as Britain struggles to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 compared with 1990 levels.

In basic terms, around 60% of all cars and lorries on the roads of Britain must be all-electric by the year 2030. Crucially, ultra-low emission vehicles should make up 9% of the overall fleet by the start of the next decade.

Mary Creagh, who chairs the environmental audit committee, said: “We need 9% of all new cars to be ultra-low emission vehicles by 2020 if we’re going to meet our climate change targets at the lowest cost to the public. But the department’s forecasts show it will get only half way to this target.”

The Department for Transport (DfT) expects between 3% and 7% of cars to be electric by the end of the decade.

At present, electric vehicles account for less than 1% of new car sales, despite the government offering up to £4,500 towards the cost of an EV. Part of the problem is the lack of a charging infrastructure, with the majority of public charging points found in London.

Mrs Creagh went on to say: “This failure risks making it more expensive to meet our long-term carbon reduction targets. With no strategy, we have no confidence that the DfT will meet this target.”

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), told the Guardian that ‘manufacturers were investing billions of pounds in developing new electric and hybrid vehicles’ and pointed to the increase in the number of electric vehicles available to the public.

Last month, campaign group Go Ultra Low argued that motorists in the UK are buying more electric vehicles than ever, with year-to-date electric car registrations up 31.8% compared with the first six months of 2015.

Close to 70,000 units have been registered since the government introduced its Plug-in Car Grant in January 2011. The Nissan Leaf remains the most popular all-electric vehicle, with 2,336 registrations in the first half of 2016.

The availability of the Plug-in Grant has been extended to March 2018, by which time we’ll know if Britain is any closer to meeting its emissions targets. Don’t hold your breath.

Drivers of gas guzzlers could pay to enter towns and cities across England

Drivers of gas guzzlers could pay to enter towns and cities across England

Drivers of gas guzzlers could pay to enter towns and cities across England

‘Clean air zones’ could be introduced in more towns and cities across the country in a bid to discourage high-polluting vehicles from urban areas.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has previously outlined plans to introduce clean air zones in five UK cities by 2020, following a ruling by the Supreme Court ordering it to comply with EU nitrogen dioxide limits.

These cities include Leeds, Birmingham, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton. London already has a low emission zone discouraging commercial vehicles, horseboxes and even some 4x4s from entering the capital. An ‘ultra low emission zone’ is expected to be introduced in the centre of London from 2020, including private cars.

But now MPs are calling for powers to introduce the zones and cut emissions to be spread across other cities in England.

The latest report from DEFRA said that, despite emissions declining significantly, there are still 40-50,000 early deaths each year in the UK because of cardiac, respiratory and other diseases linked to air pollution.

It said local councils needed more flexibility to tackle harmful emissions – and this could include charging drivers of private vehicles including cars.

Committee chairman Neil Parish, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, said: “More action is needed if we are to get older, more polluting diesel vehicles off the road quickly.

“People need more of an incentive to purchase the more expensive low-emission vehicles: we want the Government to start planning now to introduce at the next Budget a scrappage scheme targeted at cars and vans ten years or more old.”

In the wake of the ‘dieselgate’ emissions scandal, a think-tank has previously called for the scrappage scheme to be re-introduced for diesel cars – as well as a £800 first-year tax rate for all diesels.

Opel Vauxhall Astra

Europe’s car makers concede: ‘We know the fuel economy test is obsolete’

Opel Vauxhall AstraEuropean car manufacturers have responded to recent tests by the British and German transport authorities by saying they know the test cycle is outdated – and for them, the new, more real-world test can’t come soon enough.

Representing Europe’s 15 vehicle makers, The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said it’s actually “been advocating for many years an updated laboratory test… as well as an additional new test to measure pollutant emissions on the road”, according to ACEA secretary general Erik Jonnaert.

Both are coming. A new, more representative fuel economy test called WLTP – World Harmonized Light Test Cycle and Procedures – is due to take force next year, replacing the current outdated NEDC test.

The second real-world test, called Real Driving Emissions (RDE), is due to arrive then too, although the European Commission is taking a step-by-step approach in approving it – and two key packages to help car makers start preparing for RDE are still missing and “urgently needed to complete the legislation”.

As it stands, the EC aims to present the third package in October 2016 and the fourth, final package by early 2017. Car makers, it seems, want confirmation to come sooner: the legislation is due to go live for all newly-launched cars by September 2017, and all vehicles on sale by 2019.

A few campaign groups have already speculated that delays in gaining approval could see the WLTP and RDE tests delayed.

When they go live, car makers will have to minimise the discrepancy between WLTP lab test figures and RDE real-world figures to a maximum of 110%, which will fall to a maximum of 50% by January 2020. Currently, the discrepancy can be as much as 400%.

“These results show again that we now need to move forward with the new testing conditions in order to bridge the gap with the lab test,” said Jonnaert.

“RDE represents a tremendous effort for Europe’s car manufacturers, both in terms of investments and production, but our industry will take up this challenge.”

Volkswagen Passat diesel

Volkswagen to buy back half a million dieselgate cars

Volkswagen Passat dieselVolkswagen will offer to buy back diesel cars fitted with defeat device emissions cheat software as part of a deal agreed in principal with the US authorities.

The firm has reached the agreement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Californian Air Resources Board (CARB). The deal is expected to be made binding in the next few weeks.

The final terms of the deal have not been revealed – they’re still subject to negotiations with US authorities – but it is already believed to be significantly more costly to Volkswagen than the firm initially predicted when news of the ‘dieselgate’ defeat device scandal first emerged.

The initial €6.7 billion Volkswagen set aside has already risen to €15 billion.

“Volkswagen is committed to earning back the trust of its customers, dealers, regulators and the American public,” it said in a brief statement.

“These agreements in principal are an important step on the road to making things right.”

Mercedes-Benz E 250 BLUETEC

Daimler asked to ‘review exhaust emissions certification’ by US authorities

Mercedes-Benz E 250 BLUETECDaimler, parent of Mercedes-Benz, is to review how it certifies and administers exhaust emissions in the United States following a request by the US Department of Justice.

The request, which is subject to strict confidentiality, will see Daimler AG conduct an internal investigation in association with the Department of Justice.

The firm says it will “investigate possible indications of irregularities and of course take all necessary actions”.

The matter is believed to be related to class actions taken out in February by Mercedes-Benz owners in the US. Owners of Bluetec diesel models allege that pollution control technology turns off at cooler temperatures, resulting in NOx emissions far higher than those stated in the US Clean Air Act.

Daimler insists “the class actions are considered to be without merit and Daimler will defend itself against them with all available legal means”.

The surprise news from Daimler follows Volkswagen’s confirmation it will offer to buy back almost half a million US diesel cars as part of an agreement with authorities to settle the ‘dieselgate’ issue.

It has also since emerged that Mitsubishi offices in Japan were raided by Japanese officials investigating the firm’s admission of ‘misconduct’ in testing fuel economy for some of its city car models.

Volkswagen badge

Volkswagen to reveal how it will fix U.S emissions-cheat diesel cars

Volkswagen badgeVolkswagen will today reveal how it plans to fix almost 600,000 U.S diesel cars fitted with emissions-cheat ‘defeat device’ software – and has reportedly set aside $10 billion to resolve civil claims and lawsuits.

Some are predicting Volkswagen could even take the unprecedented step of offering to buy back affected cars, rather than fix them through dealers. AP News has also said Volkswagen will spend $1 billion compensating owners of affected diesel cars.

Volkswagen chief Matthias Mueller has already admitted the €6.7 billion Volkswagen set aside to cover the emissions scandal was not enough.

In March, a U.S district judge Gave Volkswagen until 21 April to reveal details of how it plans to resolve the ‘dieselgate’ emissions scandal. This involved diesel cars with software that detected when the cars were taking part in an emissions test and altered engine settings to cut NOx emissions.

In real-world use, the software reverted back to normal – and some models could emit 40 times the legal limit for NOx emissions.

Volkswagen has reportedly been in advanced discussions with U.S environmental regulators to find a solution to the emissions scandal. Today’s deadline means news of a settlement is expected soon – and in anticipation of positive news, Volkswagen shares actually rose 7% in early trading in Frankfurt.

Ahead of today’s expected announcement, Volkswagen, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and U.S Justice Department have all declined to comment to news agencies.

More news as we get it…

Nissan Dayz

Mitsubishi reveals fuel economy test misconduct involving 625,000 cars

Nissan DayzMitsubishi has revealed details of misconduct in official fuel economy tests after some of its models were found to have failed part of the test.

The firm has admitted falsifying fuel economy data for 625,000 cars across four model lines: most of the cars were sold in Japan.

Rather embarrassingly, only 157,000 of the cars are branded Mitsubishi: Japan’s sixth-largest car company also built the models for Nissan, of which 468,000 cars are affected (the Nissan Dayz is pictured above).

What’s more, it was Nissan that discovered the fuel economy inconsistency and reported the problem to Mitsubishi…

The firm no longer builds the affected cars; Mitsubishi and Nissan are now in compensation talks.

Mitsubishi president Tetsuro Aikawa led company executives onto stage during the press conference this morning – and bowed deeply before revealing news of the economy misconduct.

The affected cars are: 

  • Mitsubishi eK Wagon
  • Mitsubishi eK Space
  • Nissan Dayz
  • Nissan Dayz Roox

The firm held the press conference this morning – but stock markets already reacted with shares plunging 15% on news of the misconduct revelation.

This is the biggest one-day drop in Mitsubishi shares in more than a decade.

Bloomberg revealed the misconduct centred around loading on individual tyres during rig testing, to make fuel economy appear better than it would be in reality.

Mitsubishi’s revelation follows the huge Volkswagen emissions scandal, where pre-installed software detected when cars were being tested on rigs and altered vehicle emissions to ensure they passed the tests.

UPDATE: News has since emerged that Mitsubishi offices in Japan have been raided by officials. A government spokesman is quoted by BBC News saying they’re treating it as “a very serious case” and have given Mitsubishi until 27 April to respond. 

Audi TDI engine

Audi developed Volkswagen defeat device software in 1999

Audi TDI engineAudi engineers developed the Volkswagen defeat device software used by the firm to cheat official exhaust emissions tests back in 1999, reports German newspaper Handelsblatt today.

The Ingolstadt premium brand shelved the technology, however – only for Volkswagen engineers to dust off the software years later, reportedly as a solution to the U.S emissions tests they were struggling to pass.

Just a handful of Audi engineers were aware of the defeat device software’s existence, reports Handelsblatt, which cut off certain engine functions during defined parameters. The Volkswagen defeat device sensed when the car was running an official emissions test and altered engine settings to minimise the amount of NOx emissions.

11 million Volkswagen Group cars are involved in the defeat device scandal, including models from Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT, Skoda and Porsche.

Volkswagen and Audi have thus far declined to comment.