Car buyers face confusion of multiple test results

October 14, 2016

Consumers will need increased help and advice when they choose cars as they face a confusing array of different economy and emissions results for the same car in future. In the wake of the diesel emissions crisis, the EU is developing new ways of benchmarking fuel economy and emissions. These will start to replace the current system from 2017. In addition, original equipment manufacturers are trying to win back consumer trust by launching their own real-world fuel economy and emissions tests and independent companies are also offering their view on how cars perform. Consumers may have to visit several different sites to obtain an accurate view of a car’s performance. Experts believe official EU tests are still likely to understate a vehicle’s fuel consumption and emissions, but they remain critical in many countries for calculating tax bands and company car tax. To understand on-road running costs and actual emissions, consumers and companies may have to turn to independent tests. Nick Molden, founder of real-world driving data company Emissions Analytics, is currently rolling out its Equa Index service across Europe. This offers consumers an independent database of real-world test results, covering fuel economy, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide. Its results show a 39% discrepancy between the official EU New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) tests for CO2 emissions and Equa Index’s own results for real-world performance. The new Worldwide Light-duty harmonized Test Cycle (WLTC) is launched in the EU next year to provide more accurate official results. Molden estimates it will only reduce the margin of error by half, so official data will still not accurately reflect vehicle performance. He said: ‘For the next few years, customers will be very confused. They need information to make a decision on how a vehicle will perform in average conditions, including hills and the use of air conditioning. We are not on an ever-improving path to reduced CO2 emissions and in some cases that stopped several years ago.’

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