How and why Mercedes fakes the EU fuel consumption tests

Mercedes___LogoRemember the time you bought a new car. You normally visited it at the showroom, took it for a test drive, read the fuel consumption. Those three factors, together of course with the price of the vehicle, formed your purchase decision and selection between competition. Well, it seems that you can count on the showroom visit and test drive but certainly not on the consumption brochure you were given by the sales person.

According to the report by the independent American lobby group, Transport and Environment, there is more about car fuel consumption that meets the eye. The organisation published a report last week that casts light on the massive gap between fuel consumption on the papers and how this is felt in your pocket while you are filling the tank in real life. This “expensive” difference has widened significantly from 8% in 2001 to 31% for private motorists in 2013 and 43% for company car drivers. This is translated to 500 € per year more fuel expenses for the average European driver or else a bit less than 6,000 € during the lifetime of the car. Furthermore, this discrepancy is also estimated to emit to the environment some 1.5 billion tons of Co2 more.

Mercedes No1 in cheating on the EU tests

Somehow this fuel consumption information on the brochures is common knowledge for the average driver that is not 100% what their vehicles will need in real world. But most of us we naively believe, or not so naively are made to believe, that this is due to unavoidable differences between lab conditions and driving in a chaotic capital like Paris. The report by Transport and Environment, however, reveals that those “unavoidable differences” are not unavoidable finally but are manipulated by car companies to avoid taxes.

Mercedes is the champion in that according to this study. And it is not that only the German giant is faking its consumptions, but pretty much all the players in the market. The main reason, besides the eternal drive of companies to cut costs and increase profits, is the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). It appears that this “simulation test” is not so new finally, since it is in function since the1990s. Car companies are able to manipulate easily this test just like a first year engineer student could do it as well.

So, Mercedes, what it does is first to use the ‘right’ prototype for the tests. Even though it has the star in the front and looks like your new A class, at the end of the day it is not. The “prototype” will have all the panel gaps covered, its tyres overinflated to the point you think it will start flying like a balloon, the breaks to be loose to be able to avoid excessive fuel consumption, the spare wheel, mats and all that is extractable to be removed, and also the gearbox and other parts to be extremely thin and lubricated. Does this thing sound like what you signed up for when you gave your order to the car dealer?

On top of that, there are even companies that can fake the test for you. Those, apart from using a prototype that is nowhere close to your car on the streets, they also implement another well known technique, called cycle-beating. This one is known as a technique used to cheat air pollution tests. You see, companies will always keep looking for ways to cheat a test that can save them from taxes or cuts costs. Of course, only when they are allowed to do so, by a system full of loopholes. According to this cycle-beating, during the Energy Control Test (ECU) the engine of the vehicle is ‘optimised’. This means that it is not given full power but on the contrary engine power is distributed in a way that makes your Mercedes look like a peaceful little cat.

The new test and the German lobby

“The gap between real-world fuel consumption and distorted official test results has become a chasm,” said Transport and Environment clean vehicles manager Greg Archer. “Unless Europe introduces the new global test in 2017 as planned, carmakers will continue to cheat laws designed to improve fuel efficiency and emissions reductions – and drivers will carry the cost”, he continued.

The New Global Test that Mr Archer is referring to above, so called World Light Duty Test Cycle (WLTC), is planned to fill the loopholes of NEDC that car companies for years were exploiting. It is expected to be more rigid and unbiased and for sure much more accurate. That means that companies will have to say goodbye to the tax benefits they used to enjoy for low consumption cars and also that the drivers will have to budget their wallet better.

5 years more party please

However, you cannot take away candies from a kid so easily. The automotive industry has been ‘spoiled’ by the existing easy to cheat tests and has naturally enjoyed a good wealth from that. More so, they put money in their lobby groups in Brussels to try to keep the party going until 2022. Can they really do that? To push back a planned EU legislation, against the interests of the environment and the citizen, just to make more profit? Sure they can.

Let’s not forget here the principles of how Brussels is run and particularly the recent examples where we all witnessed a direct involvement of the automotive lobby in the policy-making of Europe? Does it sound scary enough? Have a read at a previous Sting of last year, where it is reported how the German car lobby with the support of the German Chancellor, Mrs Merkel, was able to remove from the agenda of an EU Council the Co2 emissions reduction proposal topic. It is about the 95 Co2 g/km 2020 EU goal that was never discussed on that Council on 27-28 June 2013, because of some ‘phone calls’.

All in all, Mercedes, Ford or BMW, while creating a lot of jobs and wealth in Europe, they are also misleading us about their fuel consumption. Is this the price to pay for? It can be, but no European citizen should accept it. 2017 is not so far away now. It is interesting to see if the party will go on for 5 more years or the Juncker Commission is able to spoil it on time.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Visa liberalisation: Commission reports on fulfilment of visa-free requirements by Western Balkans and Eastern Partnership countries

Don’t dismiss start-ups founded by millennials. This is how they succeed

Parliament leads the way on first set of EU rules for Artificial Intelligence

EU growth in 2015 to be again sluggish; Can the Juncker Commission fight this out?

End ‘shame, isolation and segregation’ of fistula sufferers, urges UN reproductive health chief

Is this a turning point in the fight against slavery?

How to close the gender pay gap in three steps

On Google antitrust case: “Let’s face it, some companies want to hurt Google and it goes as simple as that”

The digital revolution will transform the steel industry

The Commission offers exit from the EU budget stalemate

These 11 companies are leading the way to a circular economy

EU and Airbus Member States take action to ensure full compliance in the WTO aircraft dispute

Antitrust: Commission fines car parts suppliers of € 18 million in cartel settlement

Soil pollution ‘jeopardizing’ life on Earth, UN agency warns on World Day

MWC 2016 LIVE: Orange targets VoLTE and Voice over Wi-Fi; strikes Google partnership

Investing in rural women and girls, ‘essential’ for everyone’s future: UN chief

Humanitarian visas would reduce refugees’ death toll

EU budget for 2021-2027: Commission welcomes provisional agreement on Horizon Europe, the future EU research and innovation programme

IMF asks Europe to decide on bank resolutions and the Greek Gordian knot

Healthcare guidance apps to professional’s continued education?

ILO warns of widespread insecurity in the global labour market

World-famous cultural institutions closed due to coronavirus are welcoming virtual visitors

Trade with the United States: Council authorises negotiations on elimination of tariffs for industrial goods and on conformity assessment

Green Deal: Commission adopts new Chemicals Strategy towards a toxic-free environment

The London City-EU connection holds despite of Brexit and the ban of LSE-Deutsche Börse merger

Coronavirus: a cultural escape goat or the next Big Five

EU Emissions Trading System does not hurt firms’ profitability

These EU countries have the most government debt

Conditions deteriorating alarmingly in Yemen, warns senior UN official

DR Congo: Restore internet services as ‘a matter of urgency’, urges UN expert

UN celebrates books as ‘bridges across cultures’

Tackle ‘tsunami of hatred’ across the world urges Guterres, to counter anti-Semitism, racism and intolerance

EU leaders slammed on anti-tax evasion inaction and expensive energy

EU to Telcos: Stop Mergers and Acquisitions but please help me urgently with 5G development

China-EU Summit on 16-17 July 2018: “Work together to address common challenges”, by China’s Ambassador to the EU

How can we measure real progress on the Sustainable Development Goals?

UN health agency highlights lifestyle choices that can prevent onset of dementia, as millions more succumb each year

Brexit: European Commission intensifies preparedness work and outlines contingency action plan in the event of a no deal scenario with the UK

July was the hottest month ever – what does that actually mean?

Landmark agreement will protect 100 European Geographical Indications in China

Could switching between summer and winter time end in 2021?

Greferendum: the biggest political gaffe in western modern history to tear Europe apart? #Grexit #Graccident

“Financial crisis will not happen in China!”, the Chinese Premier underlines from Switzerland; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

A brief history of cryptography and why it matters

State aid: Commission opens investigation into proposed public support for Peugeot plant in Spain

Escalation in Syria fighting cause for ‘great concern’ says UN chief, dozens more civilians dead or injured

Afghanistan: Civilian casualties exceed 10,000 for sixth straight year

Last year, this coral reef was teeming with life. Now it’s dying – and it’s up to us to save it

Free flow of non-personal data: Parliament approves EU’s fifth freedom

UN chief welcomes ‘positive steps’ towards peace between Eritrea and Ethiopia

After swallowing effortlessly the right to be forgotten time for Google Ads now to behave

Respect people’s peaceful assembly and fair trail rights, UN human rights wing urges Nicaragua

‘Refrain from violence’ UN chief urges, as presidential election result is announced in DR Congo

We spend half our time at work in meetings – and that’s not necessarily a bad thing

“911, What’s your emergency?”

Why the ECB had to clarify it caters for the entire Eurozone not just Germany?

Amid ‘volatile’ environment, UN mission chief urges Iraqi leaders to ‘listen to the voice of the people’

Why activist athletes are needed today more than ever

EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa: new actions of almost €150 million to tackle human smuggling, protect vulnerable people and stabilise communities in North Africa

Why Africa must be ready to take the quantum leap

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s