Automakers Are Drastically Underreporting Average Emissions: Report

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague
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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: About Space]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

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  • Carsofchaos The bike lanes aren't even close to carrying "more than the car lanes replaced". You clearly don't drive in Midtown Manhattan on a daily like I do.
  • Carsofchaos The problem with congestion, dear friends, is not the cars per se. I drive into the city daily and the problem is this:Your average street in the area used to be 4 lanes. Now it is a bus lane, a bike lane (now you're down to two lanes), then you have delivery trucks double parking, along with the Uber and Lyft drivers also double parking. So your 4 lane avenue is now a 1.5 lane avenue. Do you now see the problem? Congestion pricing will fix none of these things....what it WILL do is fund persion plans.
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  • Stuki Moi "How do you take a small crossover and make it better?Slap the AMG badge on it and give it the AMG treatment."No, you don't.In fact, that is specifically what you do NOT do.Huge, frail wheels, and postage stamp sidewalls, do nothing but make overly tall cuvs tramline and judder. And render them even less useful across the few surfaces where they could conceivably have an advantage over more properly dimensioned cars. And: Small cuvs have pitiful enough fuel range as it is, even with more sensible engines.Instead, to make a small CUV better, you 1)make it a lower slung wagon. And only then give it the AMG treatment. AMG'ing, makes sense for the E class. And these days with larger cars, even the C class. For the S class, it never made sense, aside from the sheer aural visceralness of the last NA V8. The E-class is the center of AMG. Even the C-class, rarely touches the M3.Or 2) You give it the Raptor/Baja treatment. Massive, hypersophisticated suspension travel allowing landing meaningful jumps. As well as driving up and down wide enough stairs if desired. That's a kind of driving for which a taller stance, and IFS/IRS, makes sense.Attempting to turn a CUV into some sort of a laptime wonder, makes about as much sense as putting an America's Cup rig atop a ten deck cruiseship.