ICCT: Average Gap Between Official Fuel Consumption Figures & Actual Fuel Use In EU Has Hit 42%

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New research from the International Council on Clean Transportation has revealed that the average discrepancy between official vehicle fuel consumption figures and actual vehicle fuel use in the European Union has risen to 42%.

The new findings — which are the result of ongoing research on the subject + real-world vehicle carbon dioxide emissions — mean that this gap between official reality and actual reality (with regard to vehicle emissions in the European Union) has more than quadrupled over just the last 15 years.


This 42% increase in bullshit (for lack of better way to put it) equates to roughly €450 in “extra” fuel costs a year for the average vehicle owner in the European Union.

That means that if official fuel economy figures were accurate, then you would be spending around €450 less on fuel a year than you do (more or less, depending on how much you drive and what type of vehicle you use).

Importantly, this also means that carbon dioxide emissions are much higher than official fuel consumption figures imply. To word that the way that the press release on the matter does: “As a result, less than half of the on-paper reductions in CO2 emissions since 2001 have been realized in practice.”


The new research is based on systematic statistical analysis of data drawn from 13 different sources, including: “the user websites spritmonitor.de (Germany), honestjohn.co.uk (United Kingdom) and Fiches-Auto.fr (France), the leasing car service providers Travelcard (Netherlands), LeasePlan (Germany), Allstar (United Kingdom) and Cleaner Car Contracts (Netherlands), the car and consumer magazines AUTO BILD (Germany), auto motor sport (Germany and Sweden), WhatCar? (United Kingdom), km77.com (Spain) and the car club TCS (Switzerland).” In other words, the evidence was quite diverse and robust.

“We analyzed data for approximately 1 million vehicles from 7 European countries, and all data sources confirm that the gap between sales-brochure figures and the real world has reached another all time high,” stated Uwe Tietge, a researcher at ICCT Europe and lead author of the study. “When we published our first study in 2013, the gap had widened over 10 years from roughly 10% to around 25%. Now it has increased to 40% for private cars, and 45% for company cars.”

Very importantly, around “three-quarters of the gap between laboratory test results and real-world driving is explained by vehicle manufacturers exploiting loopholes in the current regulation,” according to the Managing Director of ICCT Europe, Dr Peter Mock.

These three-quarters relate to: the use of various start-stop and defeat device technologies, to limit the use of energy-intensive features/performance; the use of specially prepared tires; fully charged batteries; etc.

While the European Union will be implementing a new vehicle testing cycle beginning in 2017, the new testing cycle — the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP) — seems to have been designed with easily exploitable limitations and loopholes built in as well, as noted by Dr Mock.

“The WLTP will cut the gap approximately in half but it contains new loopholes that could lead to the performance gap to increase again in the future,” he stated. “Further actions are therefore required, in particular on-road testing of fuel consumption and CO2 emissions under real driving conditions as well as independent surveillance testing of actual vehicles on the road.”

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) prepared the study with help from the Netherlands’ Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO). It can be found here.

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James Ayre

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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