By on May 1, 2014

2014 Mercedes CLA

Though the European Environment Agency proclaimed new cars sold throughout the European Union in 2013 as being 4 percent cleaner than those sold in 2012, an environmentalist group says testing loopholes are the cause behind the results.

Reuters reports Transport and Environment are urging the European Commission to quickly introduce new testing procedures for ensuring automakers are actually meeting the 2021 mandate of 95 grams per kilometer of CO2, the toughest known emissions-control mandate issued in the world. The Commission claim the 2013 results of 127 g/km — made ahead of the 2015 mandate of 130 g/km — were the result of European automakers using loopholes — including grippy tires and test-facility grade smooth roads — to make the grade thus far.

T&E clean vehicles manager Greg Archer said the current tests for compliance were “obsolete” due to ease of manipulation, driving home the point that the 2021 mandate was “Europe’s single most effective policy to drive down CO2 emissions.”

As for the results themselves, the EEA state their findings as provisional, as inspectors have yet to survey individual automakers to determine if the latter party had met their individual goals for compliance.

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27 Comments on “European Automakers Claimed To Use Testing Loopholes In Emissions Compliance...”

  • avatar

    What I love about environmentalists. No matter what you do, it’s not good enough.

  • avatar

    I’ve read one of the things they do is simulate the car being on a slightly downward slope for the entire test. Bit of a problem with that is that the test cycle is supposed to replicate the daily commute to AND from work…Not sure how that works.

    It’s business as usual really. Problem is that in some markets including the one right here in the Netherlands, taxation based on these figures completely distorts the market, 1 gram less or more in this cycle can in some cases mean thousands of euros saved in taxes by the customer (buy or lease, but particularly lease). The difference is such that people really don’t go for the brand/car they really want in one particular sector anymore, but instead go for the one with the tax incentives that emits a few grams less on paper (and not in reality).

    Other ‘fun’ results of this:
    -Trim levels you can’t option bigger wheels on (at least not fro the factory) cause it would cause a slightly higher g/km rating which would push the car in a higher tax bracket. Technically this makes it illegal to put bigger wheels on your car post delivery as well though this is not enforced by police (yet)

    -Special gearboxes with extra long gearing to eke out another couple of grams in theory (in reality of course you’re annoyed with your small engine coupled to this nasty gearing and select the lower gear, but hey…bureaucracy pownz)

    -Hard low resistence tyres coupled to firmer lower suspension messing up the ride quality.

    It’s insane. But it creates a need for bureaucrats to get together and talk about what the limits the should be for next year. Maybe 85 grams…maybe 83…or hey let’s go a little crazy and do 82. And then of course there need to be bureaucrats to enforce all of this. But luckily the tax is so high so we can pay all these fine people.

    • 0 avatar

      In Germany as I understand you cannot put on any tires of different size or type than approved by manufacturer.

      • 0 avatar

        Hmmm… I know warranty wise that’s the case with Porsche at least. Install a tire that isn’t specifically specified by Porsche and it becomes a sticking point if the vehicle warranty is a concern.

        I can’t remember what Porsche uses to identify tires that meet the spec. BMW used a star at one time, Mercedes an “MO” IIRC and GM had “T spec” branded on a tire that met their specification.

        If you want to get burnt really badly in the case of at least Bridgestone installing a tire that doesn’t meet the OE speed rating will void the tire’s warranty. So in the case of Porsche installing a Bridgestone that’s not rated for the vehicle with a lower speed rating bones two warranties in one fell swoop.

      • 0 avatar

        In Germany, you can add any wheels and/or tires to any car as long as you can provide an authority-approved certification (usually from the wheel/tire manufacturer) that they are suitable for the car/purpose. So, you don’t necessarily need the car manufacturer. Usually, wheel/tire manufacturers cooperate with car manufacturers, to be on the safe side.

  • avatar

    I suppose we lumpenproles will just have to wait for the cutting edge technologies being pioneered by Formula 1 boffinbrains to trickle down to the sad sack commercial car vendors.

    It’s a cruel world.

  • avatar

    I’m shocked – shocked! to hear that automakers use loopholes to comply with mandates. Isn’t that how the game is played? You write the rules, we put an army of lawyers and engineers on the case to find the least expensive way to comply. Anything you don’t specify down to the last detail is fair game and open to interpretation. Anyway, I don’t understand why an automaker would use grippy tires to make their numbers, when those low rolling-resistance tires (anything but ‘grippy’) are touted as fuel savers.

  • avatar

    Until they set up a kill switch so that when you raise the hood to test the emissions is engaged and it’s turned off when in Drive they aren’t really cheating.

    Chrysler tried that in the Seventies, didn’t work long….

    • 0 avatar

      Can you point me to an article? I’m always looking up stuff I learn about on here, learn something new everyday.
      I’m not seeing one, not to say your wrong, but rather I’m interested.

      • 0 avatar

        looking back thru TTAC, i found some comments about pontiac’s 455 and a timer’d EGR system. there was a suggestion that chrysler did something similar.

        then i found this:

        not quite the same thing, but interesting.

  • avatar

    Judging from some of the comments, there are some who are confused by this.

    CO2 emissions = fuel economy. CO2 emissions aren’t smog, but a measure of the amount of fuel burned. (The only difference between CO2 and MPG is that CO2 accounts for the higher energy content of diesel and is adjusted accordingly.)

    What the article is saying is that the fuel economy tests in Europe are being gamed. If you compare European reported fuel economy with the EPA results for like cars, then it’s easy to see how this would be the case — the European results are invariably much more optimistic than the US tests.

    • 0 avatar

      So what you’re saying is the europeans are even better than us at gaming the system. I rather doubt that.

      • 0 avatar

        Rather than doubt it, you could just consult with your friends at Google, and compare test results for US cars with those in the EU. (If you use UK mpg measures, then make sure that you convert imperial to US gallons.)

        • 0 avatar

          Sorry there, pch, I was being tongue in cheek. But who is this great Google of whom so many speak?

          • 0 avatar

            Google is like the moon landing — it’s fake, and I just made it up.

            One thing that the Europeans do differently is that they allow on-the-road testing. (In the US, it’s all done on a machine.) So automakers choose interesting locations in order to test their vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        The US maintains two sets of books on EPA fuel economy. The numbers used to determine CAFE compliance deviate widely from real-world observed fuel economy, but those results are not widely published. The fuel economy numbers on the window sticker both use a tougher test cycle and include a fudge factor to bring them closer to reality. The window sticker fuel economy numbers are reasonably accurate for an average normally aspirated engine car driven moderately. Cars with turbocharged gasoline engines do worse in the field with typical drivers than they do in the test.

        • 0 avatar

          The European test cycles that are reported to the public — the equivalent of the EPA window sticker — consistently report higher MPG results than the US equivalent. A 20-30% difference is not unusual.

          For all of the complaints that some people may have about the accuracy of the EPA results, they are more accurate than what one finds elsewhere. (Canadians should be able to relate to this.)

    • 0 avatar

      Isn’t that part of Europe’s love affair with turbocharged engines?

      They favor that sort of engine on the test cycle so it has pushed European manufacturers (seems to me BMW notably) to go in that direction.

  • avatar

    Who at TTAC edited the article? I’m going to assume they meant low rolling resistance (aka LESS GRIPPY) tires. Sticky tires increase handling but lower fuel economy, and thus increase CO2 emissions.

    • 0 avatar

      I figured there might be some aspect of the test not described that may work in the automaker’s favor with sticky tires. Maybe not having to slow down for corners.

    • 0 avatar

      Per the title, I was happy the European auto makers stepped up and told everyone they used the loopholes. But then I read the article.

      No editing.

  • avatar

    What a surprise!
    The technocratic test is so far removed from reality that it only serves tax purposes.
    On low fuel consumption vehicles, the difference between the test and real life can go up to 100%. A car said to sip 3.3l for 100km can have a real fuel consumption from 4.5 to 6.7 (according to real users on That means the most economical driver can only get 30% worse than the technocratic test.
    I think it’s just time to stop this nonsense completely. Fuel consumption has hardly moved in real life in the last ten years, while numbers from EU would make you believe that it dropped by half.

    Engineers have just centered their efforts on this because they have no choice but to dodge the system.
    Put all taxes on the fuel and we’ll be back to a normal approach where everyone needs to reduce fuel consumption in real life: drivers and manufacturers.

  • avatar

    Somewhat off topic, but did anyone else look at the picture of the Mercedes and think it looks more like a Hyundai, Toyota or next year’s Lincoln sedan concept than a Mercedes?

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