Green Car Claims Fail Real World Tests

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
green car claims fail real world tests

Concerned that demand for "green cars" could be fueling marketing gimmickry more than real improvements, Auto Express UK ran a test of seven supposedly low-carbon cars (full results not available online) with interesting results. The Times Online reports the test revealed that several vehicles perform much worse in the real world than their manufacturers claim (and repeat ad nauseum in marketing material). One such offender is the VW Polo BlueMotion, which was launched as "Britain's cleanest car" with a claimed C02 output of under 100g/km. In the Auto Express, the Polo failed to achieve its lofty benchmark, and received low scores. Honda's Civic Hybrid has a claimed C02 emission of 109g/km, but in testing it delivered 171g/km, enough to bump it into a higher carbon tax category. The Lexus GS450h claims an impressive 35.8 mpg, but delivered only 26.7 mpg in Auto Express' tests. Ford's ECOnetic 1.6 diesel Focus returned about 45 mpg, a good 20 mpg off the 65.6 mpg claimed by the manufacturer, although carbon output is decreased compared to standard Ford diesels. In short, carbon emissions and fuel efficiency are almost universally overestimated and hyped in marketing efforts. While EPA ratings are often better than anyone receives on the road, we don't base vehicle taxes on carbon output. With tax incentives in place for less-polluting cars, Britain's government will probably want better verification of actual C02 output levels going forward.

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  • Bytor Bytor on May 21, 2008
    My long term average in my Insight is 85MPG (imperial). I totally want an Insight. They may be a bit ugly, but they are a purpose built mileage machines, lightweight and tossable and had an available 5-speed. I drove an MX-5 for a while, I could handle the space limitations as well. I hope one of Hondas new hybrids come close to the Insight and offers decent performance great economy and a manual transmission. Not holding my breath though. http://www.hondanews.com/categories/1097/releases/4510

  • Mdf Mdf on May 21, 2008

    Edward Niedermeyer: You can keep you[r] driverless car, thanks Good grief, why? I like driving ... but only when you can actually move. But like any rational person, I thoroughly detest the stop-n-go city commute, and would be very happy to fob that pathetic job onto a robot. Consider this: if a computer could drive any car in a way that is (say) 10% more fuel efficient, then the potential exists to retrofit large swaths of the current fleet in a time-span that is probably much shorter than junking them and building more fuel efficient cars (with the autonomous driving ability factory installed). GPS + video camera(s) + computer. The hardware is inexpensive, the computer program only needs to be written once. Sounds like good bang for the buck.

  • Gsp Gsp on May 21, 2008

    I get more than the old EPA numbers in all my cars. But I coast a lot and like to think of saving gas as a game while I am driving. I still accelerate hard at least a few times a day though. Most important is the coasting. Most people feel they should be on the gas or on the brake all the time. Also, even use of the gas while driving is important. I have a friend that burns through transmissions and gas because he constantly pumps the gas as he is driving. Many people do this for some reason, like a nervous habit.

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on May 21, 2008

    GSP: I had a girlfriend that did that too for no obvious reason. I was then I knew I did not want her for a wife b/c she would ruin ever supercar I had parked in my imaginary supercar garage... A couple months later I was a free man again.

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