Friday, February 08, 2013

CO2 Emissions are underrepoted by EU Auto Manufacturers

Many will not be surprised to learn that auto manufacturers in the EU have been deceiving the consumers by consistently reporting fictitious economy figures for their cars. The following article will not make sense unless the reader keeps in mind that the practice or reporting fuel economy standards in the US as mpg is not used in the EU. What they use instead is CO@ emitted per liter of fuel.  ( My rough calculations indicate that a fleet average of 27.28 mpg is equivalent to 200 grams of CO2 per Kilometer).



Reuters) - European car manufacturers are exploiting test loopholes to exaggerate their vehicles' green credentials, an official European Commission study has found.
The report, which is likely to stoke already heated debate on carbon standards, found that cars are a lot less fuel-efficient and more polluting than their makers tell us.
Simulations used to test new cars have never perfectly reflected actual emissions. However, the EC-commissioned analysis by three consulting firms found "flexibilities" squeezed consumers, benefited manufacturers and jeopardized European Union environment goals.
Test techniques such as using tires with extra traction or driving on an unrealistically smooth road surface could account for about a third of the recorded drop in average carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions across the European Union between 2002 and 2010, it said.
"Frankly, people should be absolutely outraged. This is just taking money out of people's pockets. The industry is running rings around this procedure," one EU source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
'CONSUMER MISINFORMATION'
CO2 emissions were 167.2 grams per kilometer (g/km) in 2002 and 140.4 g/km by 2010, figures in the report showed, giving a total average reduction across new EU cars of 26.8 g/km. The study attributed 9.1 g/km, or roughly a third, to the way testing was performed, rather than improved technology.
"This means that vehicles do not deliver end-users the promised fuel cost reductions, leading to consumer misinformation," said the report carried out by the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO), British-based AEA Ricardo and IHS Global Insight, of the United States.
Already widely used, the flexibilities could be exploited further as debate continues in Brussels on implementation of a 2020 target to cut average emissions across the EU fleet to 95 (g/km).
In addition to the 2020 goal, the Commission is revising testing law, but it is not expected to close all the loopholes. Globally, the United Nations is working on new standards.
The Commission said new tests from around 2016 should "mitigate" the effect of these flexibilities on the gap between actual and regulatory CO2 emissions, though "some tolerances are necessary for practical reasons".
EU consumer organization BEUC calculated that the flexibilities meant that consumers paid up to 135 euros ($180) a year more in fuel, based on today's fuel prices and 14,000km of driving in a car bought in 2010.
'CONFOUNDING LAWMAKERS'
British Liberal member of the European Parliament Chris Davies said he was working on amendments to tackle testing standards as part of the 2020 cars emissions debate.
"The cheats are confounding the lawmakers and deceiving the public," he said.
Another British Liberal European politician, Fiona Hall, is calling for conformity tests after cars have entered service.
One of those involved in the report, TNO consultant Richard Smokers, said that such tests would help and that Europe's use of flexibilities was more pronounced than elsewhere.
The United States already has in-service tests and Japan is culturally scrupulous, he said.
"What we have heard from people in the field is that there is a cultural reluctance to exploit flexibilities. It's the difference between the spirit and the letter of the law. In Europe, we have a tradition of finding and exploiting bandwidths and loopholes," he said.

33 comments:

Jessica Y. Sanchez said...

I’m not surprised by the findings of this study. The consumer is always being taken advantage of. When buying a new car the biggest features that are looked for in a car are safety and gas efficiency. To know that a car company can lie about its mileage is disgusting. I don’t think loopholes or “flexibilities” should be allowed when a consumer wants to buy a product. There should be no wiggle room in telling the truth. The truth is the truth and that’s all that should be accepted, let the consumer make the decision. Just another perfect example of how big companies take advantage of the consumer and the environment.

Davin Ajodhasingh said...

First of all, I’m not sure what to think about this article. Yes, I do believe it is unethical to deceive consumers and the results can certainly hampered emission goals of the EU. However, I do not think the manufacturers are to blame in this particular case. The article mentioned that tires with extra traction were used during testing to determine the maximum mpg a particular car can achieve. European Manufacturers have higher testing standards than American car companies. When the cars are sold, they are sold with a standard set of mass produced tires. The consumer does have option of investing in better tires to increase mpg as well as purchasing performance upgrades that can increase efficiency and lower running costs. However, the only people that do this are car enthusiasts. Next, the article also mentioned that cars were tested on “unrealistically” smooth surfaces. One thing to keep in mind is that manufactures export their vehicles worldwide to a variety of different terrains and driving conditions. This causes the mpg and reliability of the same cars to vary in different regions. Auto manufacturers have always given statistics of their cars under “optimal driving conditions” as opposed to “normal” driving conditions, being that driving conditions vary regionally. The last thing I would like to point out is the graph. It shows that the emissions of “light vehicles” have decline. This graph only represents one class of cars which is the most common class of car in Europe. On the other hand, North Americans have the largest market in the world for luxury European, sedans, SUV’s and sports car. Many European and even Japanese automakers do not market their smaller cars for North America because they know American consumers will not buy them. The same goes for the offerings of different engine sizes for the same car in different regions of the world

Jeff Prizzia said...

This article leads me to believe more and more car manufacturers are hyping up the products that they will sell to their consumers. I think that this article is most likely true because usually any type of demonstration or marketing of a vehicle is played out. Many vehicles out there on the market are not all what manufactures lead their consumers to believe. I feel that these car companies that were selling this false information to their consumers should be closely watched from here on out. There is no reason for companies to lie about the CO2 emission outputs, consumers will still at the end of the day end up buying a car whether there is a huge decrease in emissions or not, because that is just the way humans think. This thought comes down to the fact that we don't care about the environment anything else but ourselves. Like Jessica said it is another way of huge companies thinking about money and not thinking about the environment.

Remy Gallo said...

The issue of companies not telling consumers the truth can be found in many different products, so reading this article shouldn't be much of a surprise to anyone. I completely agree with what Jeff Prizzia, that consumers will buy the product no matter what the CO2 emissions output is because they don't have many other options. It is in essence a marketing scheme for companies to "prove" to the public that their product is better for the environment. The one who does this the best will in return get the most business. When the article says "Frankly, people should be absolutely outraged" it is correct. But unless these outraged people take action nothing will change.

Kay Mahoney said...

Unfortunately, this article was not surprising when taking into consideration the capitalistic and ruthless workings of our world. The automobile industry is just recently facing struggle and controversy as societies become more aware of the relationship between production/manufacturing and the environment. Because of this, such companies' first instinct is to lie to the consumer, making it so their products are appealing to a more ecologically conscious masses. Thankfully, these deceptive schemes can be brought to the public's attention and should certainly cause some outrage, leading to significant change. This study is a clear example of 'greenwashing', a practice all too commonly found with many of the products we use in our daily lives. The consumer fully believes he/she is choosing a economical option that also benefits the health of biosphere; in reality he/she is just benefiting the wealth and profit of those companies. The automobile industry is getting into deep water when not only taking advantage of consumer's pockets, but also contributing greatly to serious global issues such as climate change. There is just simply no room for loopholes on these matters. Therefore, I think strict policy should be put into place and thorough Environmental Impact Statements should be adopted to oversee industries such as the automobile industry.

Alexsys Grishaber said...

I knew some of these products that are being produced were too good to be true. Consumers trust and confide in these companies and we are being lied to. These companies are looking for more money to fill their own pockets. Most people today are looking for better ways to contribute to helping the environment, and we believe that this is a efficient way to help. In actuality, this car that is being purchased is not helping at all. I just think that they are misguiding us because they know that we will believe what they tell us. Not because consumers are gullible but only because we expect the truth from these companies.

Christie Homberg said...

This article reminds me of a lecture we had a week or so ago when we talked about companies that market products as being 'Eco-friendly'. The point was brought up that it's not the end product that we should look at, so much as the process that goes into making that product. People choose to buy certain vehicles over others because they are marketed as being 'better for the environment'. I can appreciate people's attempts to be sustainable when they choose hybrids over gas guzzling suv's, however, reading this article, it's hard not to get frustrated with the EU. Not everyone is willing or able to put the extra time and money into purchasing a hybrid car. Purchasing things that are marketed as being 'Eco-friendly' seems to be a growing hype, so it seems very unethical and advantageous on the EU's part to bend the truth in its product details.

Mary Hekker said...

Though I'm disappointed in the findings of this study, I can't say I'm surprised. I'm realizing more and more how much manufacturers take advantage of the consumers. I don't think it should be allowed to use "flexibilities" to provide facts when promoting or selling a product. I think that a fact is a fact and it should not be disputable. I can understand that using methods like using tires with extra traction or running tests on an "unrealistically smooth road surface" can make the vehicle appear better than it is. But that doesn't mean it is ethical nor do I agree with the use of these methods. With European car manufacturers exaggerating the car's eco-friendly characteristics. I don't see much progress being made in the green movement through eco-friendly vehicles. Isn't the big picture to save consumers money and to treat our planet nicer? Cheating results of emissions tests on cars will not bring us any closer to a cleaner planet.

Jessica Alba said...

Unfortunately, it is not a shock that a car company or companies would lie to the public, or in this case, exaggerate the truth. It happens all the time, probably more than we realize or want to admit to. Companies are pros at finding loopholes, and they use this skill to "bend" the law into what they want it to be,as long as the result is a profit. If the information regarding the tires and track course is available to the public, no one was technically lying and cannot therefore be blamed. Instead the average person is just led astray in their thoughts, and in an instance such as this, it turns out that some wrong can really occur because of what a buyer was led to believe. These wrongs include not only spending more money on a supposedly more "efficient" car but also damaging the environment by adding more CO2 to the atmosphere than there otherwise would have been with a different purchase. False advertising is unethical to say the least, but maybe it's time to change things; for example, a new law stating that cars must be tested on all types of terrains but the most average type of road conditions are the ones that can be marketed would be helpful to avoid further outrage at being scammed.

Laura Sorrentino said...

In almost every situation, it is the same case. Products are promoted extensively, usually pushing a key feature or upgrade that makes it better than the last, when really the product is not much different except for the fact that the price went up dramatically. Although, this is much more than a marketing and advertising scheme, which would be to place their product in the right place at the right time so it appeals to as much of their audience as possible. Advertising does hype up products stating all the reasons why it is so good, however it should not entail deceiving the consumer audience. Lying and saying a car can save a certain amount of CO2 is not lawful nor ethical. Even if buyers decided to purchase automobile upgrades and quality tires in addition to driving on a unrealistically smooth terrain, that would only account to 1/3 of the reduction in CO2 levels. 2/3 of CO2 reduction promised to the buyer would still not present itself, therefore concluding that car manufacturers were most likely misleading car buyers and unfortunately now for them has ruined their credibility.

Nikita Iyengar said...

It is not surprising that when trying to promote something that has so much competition, such as vehicles, people are exaggerating the truth about how “green friendly” the car is. Since our world is trying to move in the direction of being more environmentally friendly people want to believe that they are at least trying to make a difference with the kind of car they buy. The company however has no sense of ethics or moral values if they are giving false information about how environmentally friendly their cars really are.

Chelsey Perman said...

I was not very surprised after reading about how European car manufacturers are trying to fool their target audience into believing that there cars are as fuel efficient and environmentally friendly as they say they are. In today's society, people will do almost anything to win people over into spending money. While most car companies are bound to play up it's new vehicles, they should not be allowed to give out false information to their buyers.

James Ward said...

The saying too good to be true has always been the case of industry. Historically, the auto industry as a whole has repeatedly taken advantage of trusting consumers, cutting corners and so forth.
As far as the measurement of fuel efficiency, one could make the argument (like we did last class) that it is irrelevant due to all the emissions caused to make the car in the first place. But I still believe businesses have to maintain a certain integrity and transparency with the consumer.

Tamir said...

Sadly in some cases nowadays, selling "green" products is just another way to rope in customers. This can be beneficial for the environment in some cases, but not when industry makes false claims about emissions and other outputs of their products.

It is disappointing to see that this has been going on unnoticed for a number of years. We as consumers expect that we can trust reports, especially from major companies, and there needs to be a better system for reviewing emission reports so that situations like this do not continue to happen. I hope that this situation is a fluke and not the norm in the European Union.

Jaclyn Barbato said...

There is a common trend of consumers being misinformed of the actual impacts of their 'green products' on the environment due to lack of understanding of the 'technical terms'. However, I am not a big fan of the hybrid car. I do not believe there is a such thing as an environmentally friendly automobile that runs off of fossil fuels, no matter what the efficiency. Someone who's truly environmentally-minded would probably opt for other forms of transportation whenever possible over the personal automobile. If everyone who owned a hybrid drove a less expensive, older vehicle and rode their bike or used mass transportation, and instead donated (however many thousand) to the research of earth-friendly fuels I'm sure we'd have much greener vehicles.

Virginia MacDougall said...

As consumers, we can admit articles like these and such findings are disenchanting, but they don’t exactly come unexpectedly. We are always being swindled and taken advantage of. Manufactures advertise their goods using flexible numbers and only the most optimal statistics found under testing in the most optimal conditions, although it is unethical and misguiding it is how they sell and get consumers to buy. Whether or not it is an ‘unrealistically’ smooth surface or not, it is a surface, and they are testing the vehicle on it in order to have optimal outcomes and numbers to advertise. If any of us were trying to sell something, we would want to advertise it under the best conditions. As educated consumers we are, or at least should be aware of these types of methods by manufacturers.

Bradley Malave said...

I am a person who is very concerned about the facts of how much Co2 emission is being put out into the atmosphere by companies. It's upsetting that European car manufacturers are finding loopholes to make their vehicles look more ecofriendly. Now that these companies got cought, they look bad and they have a bad reputation. If tehy invested money on being ecofriendly then they would have a more positive reputation. Companies should not lie to their consumers period. It is consumers who support them and when the consumers find out about the ie, they will lose their customers. They should be hones with thir numbers and invest on technology so that they can create better cars.

Christina F said...

It is absolutely criminal that auto manufacturers in the EU are intentionally deceiving the public in order to make profits. There should definitely be testing standards set in place in order to prevent these kinds of shady business practices. The companies are not only cheating their customers, but they are also cheating the environment. What concerns me the most is that if they are willing to lie about their economy figures for their cars, what is going to stop them from lying about more important factors like safety features and crash ratings? This unscrupulous behavior has not only caused to the consumer to suffer financially, but it has also placed a seed of doubt in the mind of the public regarding the character of these manufacturers. The EU auto manufacturers are living by the old saying; they are pennywise but dollar foolish. Though they tried to increase their sales and mislead the public by stating that their cars emit less CO2, they have now lost the public’s trust. The public can most certainly express their discontent by hitting the car companies where it most hurts; in the wallet. Consumers can choose not to purchase cars from these dishonest manufacturers.

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aziz savadogo said...

This article reminds me of another scandal that happened in Europe a couple of weeks ago, consumer were sold horse meat and it was marketed as beef. Although the car manufacturers did not deceive the consumer as much as packaged meals manufacturers did, it is outrageous that the European Union let car manufacturers get away with "externalities", only designed to fool the consumer.
It definitely should be illegal because auto manufacturers do make a lot of money from this misinformation, usually car marketed as less polluting are more expensive.

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