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Carmakers Routinely Under-Report Fuel Economy, Study Finds

Oct. 30, 2015
French weekly Auto Plus said Friday that it had tested fuel consumption of more than 1,000 vehicle models and found that on average, it was 37.2% higher than automakers reported. 

PARIS—With the car industry already reeling from the Volkswagen pollution cheating scandal, French weekly Auto Plus reported Friday that major brands considerably under-estimate real-world fuel consumption.

The magazine said in its Friday edition it had tested fuel consumption of more than a 1,000 models and found that on average it was 37.2% higher than reported by automakers.

Volkswagen has found itself in trouble for software that cheats official tests and lets many of it diesel engines spew out up to 40 times more pollution than permitted. The scandal highlighted the fact that car certification testing is done in laboratories under controlled conditions that are far from those on the roads.

Auto Plus found that recent Volkswagen and BMW diesels were consuming 55 to 65% more fuel than reported. 

The discrepancy in fuel consumption for some diesel engines compliant with the latest pollution requirements was up to 74.3%.

Diesel engines are popular in France, and French automakers Renault, Peugeot and Citroen were quick to defend their engines after the Volkswagen scandal broke.

But Auto Plus found their latest diesel engines, which have to comply with Euro 6 emission rules, consumed 50 to 65% more fuel than reported.

The magazine complained about European regulations which certify vehicles under conditions "far removed from real (on-road) constraints."

Peugeot and Citroen said they would publish real-world fuel economy figures for their diesel vehicles vetted by an independent body.

So, who to trust? Auto Plus said "Japanese carmakers ... are those who cheat the least" in their reporting of fuel consumption figures.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015

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