Automakers Are Drastically Underreporting Average Emissions: Report

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague
automakers are drastically underreporting average emissions report

Dieselgate slashed a gaping hole in the assumption that automakers were genuinely invested in building more efficient cars, but it’s hardly the only flimflammery going on behind the scenes. A recent report from Transport and Environment, a European NGO pushing for cleaner transport, found that many automakers are underreporting global emissions by as much as 115 percent. 


The good news, at least for Volkswagen, is that we’re not talking about Volkswagen. This time, it’s Hyundai and Kia in the spotlight for underreporting emissions by up to 115 percent. BMW wasn’t much better, as the organization found its reporting fell short by about 80 percent.


Europe’s emissions standards are set to tighten next year and will require financial institutions to report the level of their scope 3 emissions. Scope 3 are indirect emissions that take both upstream and downstream emissions into account. Upstream includes the supply chain, which for automobiles can be pretty dirty. Downstream is a big deal here because it includes emissions emitted after vehicles are sold. 


Transport and Environment places some of the underreporting blame on automakers' methods to certify emissions. They focus on the average size of vehicles, lifespan, and where they’re driven, and the organization notes that many companies use selective data to drive down their average emissions. Toyota, as it found, bases its emissions estimates on a lifetime mileage of 100,000 km (62,137 miles), and we all know a Corolla owner with at least four times that many miles on their car. 


Since this study took place in Europe, the impact on you may seem minimal and far away, but emissions anywhere affect people everywhere. Moreover, this report shows that many methods we rely on to identify efficient, green vehicles are wrong. Transport and Environment notes that investing one million euros into an oil and gas company finances around 5,500 tons of carbon. An identical investment in the auto industry yields not much less, at 4,500 tons. 


However, some automakers go well beyond that, and the most discouraging part is that they’re using what we know are already underreported numbers. Investing a million in the Nissan-Mitsubishi-Renault alliance finances more than 11,000 tons of carbon emissions, and Honda’s not much better at almost 8,000 tons. 


[Image credit: Shutterstock.com/All About Space]

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  • Jwee More range and faster charging cannot be good news for the heavily indebted and distracted Musk.Tesla China is discounting their cars. Apart from the Model 3, no one is much buying Tesla's here in Europe. Other groups have already passed Tesla in Europe, where it was once dominant.Among manufacturers, 2021 EV sales:VW Group 25%, Stellantis at 14.5%,Tesla at 13.9%Hyundai-Kia at 11.2% Renault Group at 10.3%. Just 2 years ago, Tesla had a commanding 31.1% share of the European EV marketOuch. https://carsalesbase.com/european-sales-2021-ev/@lou_BC, carsalebase.com changed their data, so this is slightly different than last time I posted this, but same idea.
  • Varezhka Given how long the Mitsubishi USA has been in red, that's a hard one. I mean, this company has been losing money in all regions *except* SE Asia and Oceania ever since they lost the commercial division to Daimler.I think the only reason we still have the brand is A) Mitsubishi conglomerate's pride won't allow it B) US still a source of large volume for the company, even if they lose money on each one and C) it cost too much money to pull out and no one wants to take responsibility. If I was the head of Mitsubishi's North American operation and retreat was not an option, I think my best bet would be to reduce overhead by replacing all the cars with rebadged Nissans built in Tennessee and Mexico.As much as I'd like to see the return of Triton, Pajero Sport (Montero Sport to you and me), and Delica I'm sure that's more nostalgia and grass is greener thing than anything else.
  • Varezhka If there's one (small) downside to the dealer not being allowed to sell above MSRP, it's that now we get a lot of people signing up for the car with zero intention of keeping the car they bought. We end up with a lot of "lightly used" examples on sale for a huge mark-up, including those self-purchased by the dealerships themselves. I'm sure this is what we'll end up seeing with GR Corolla in Japan as well.This is also why the Land Cruiser has a 4 year waitlist in Japan (36K USD starting MSRP -> buy and immediately flip for 10, 20K more -> profit) I'm not sure if there's a good solution for this apart from setting the MSRP higher to match what the market allows, though this lottery system is probably as close as we can get.
  • Jeff S @Lou_BC--Unrelated to this article but of interest I found this on You Tube which explains why certain vehicles are not available in the US because of how the CAFE measures fuel standards. I remember you commenting on this a few years ago on another article on TTAC. The 2023 Chevrolet Montana is an adorable small truck that's never coming to the USA. It's not because of the 1.2L engine, or that Americans aren't interested in small trucks, it's that fuel economy legislation effectively prevents small trucks from happening. What about the Maverick? It's not as small as you think. CAFE, or Corporate Average Fuel Economy is the real reason trucks in America are all at least a specific dimension. Here's how it works and why it means no tiny trucks for us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eoMrwrGA8A&ab_channel=AlexonAutos
  • Gabe A new retro-styled Montero as their halo vehicle to compete against the Bronco, Wrangler and 4Runner. Boxy, round headlights like the 1st generation, two door and four door models, body on frame.A compact, urban truck, Mighty Max, to compete against the Maverick. Retro-styled like the early 90s Mighty Max.A new Outlander Sport as more of a wagon/crossover to compete against the Crosstrek and Kona. Needs to have more power (190+ HP) and a legit transmission, no CVT.A new Eclipse hybrid to compete against the upcoming redesigned Prius. Just match the Prius's specs and make it look great.Drop the Eclipse Cross, I am not sure why they wanted to resurrect the Pontiac Aztec. Keep the Mirage and keep it cheap, make the styling better and up the wheel size. The Outlander seems fine.I like the idea of some sort of commercial vehicle, something similar in size to the Promaster City but with AWD.
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