Which? reveals more cars breaking emissions limits


New Which? tests reveals that, when assessed through real-life testing methods, large numbers of cars are breaking official emissions limits.

In light of the recent emissions scandal, we extracted and analysed detailed emissions data for more than 300 cars we tested since 2012 to find out the worst emissions offenders. Despite all of the vehicles complying with either the Euro 5 or Euro 6 emissions regulations using the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) tests, when using our true-to-life testing methods we found:

  • Staggeringly, nearly all (95%) the diesel cars emitted more oxides of nitrogen (NOx) than official limits allow, with one car emitting 15 times the maximum allowed;
  • One in 10 (10%) petrol cars also emitted more NOx than limits allow;
  • Two-thirds (65%) of petrol cars emit more carbon monoxide (CO) than the 2006 limit, with one model producing five times the legal limit in our tests;
  •  38 of the cars we tested were even unable to meet emissions standards from 1993.

Hybrid cars also failed to meet emissions standards, with our tests revealing both petrol and diesel hybrids emitting more NOx and CO than official limits allow.

These results provide further evidence of just how flawed the current system of emissions testing is. The New European Driving Cycle (NEDC)contains a number of loopholes that can lead to unrealistic fuel economy and emissions figures which mislead consumers. New testing methods, that assess car performance based on real-life conditions, are due to be introduced from 2017, but Which? is calling for these to be brought in without delay. We also want the Government to set out how it is working with the European Commission and other Member States to implement these tests as soon as possible.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd, said:

“Car emissions and fuel claims are important factors when buying a new car, so drivers will be shocked by the results of our testing.

“The current official tests are clearly not fit-for-purpose and we urgently need a new regime putting in place that reflects the reality of how we drive.”

Notes to editors

  1.        Which? assessments use more challenging and realistic driving conditions than just the NEDC alone. Our testing reflects the new, more stringent testing we are urging the European Commission to implement as soon as possible, and includes elements such as motorway driving. To find out more on how we tested cars for their emissions figures, click here.
  2.    Which? has consistently highlighted the flaws in the fuel efficiency testing, and over 78,000 people have now joined our Come Clean on Fuel Claims campaign. Which? wants the Government to:
  •         Set out how the Government will work with the European Commission to implement new tests for car emissions and fuel economy before 2017;
  •         Set out a timetable for its testing, outlining when UK consumers can expect preliminary and final findings and conclusions;
  •         Demonstrate how this investigation will be genuinely independent, including the role of the Vehicle Certification Agency and the contribution of manufacturers (including randomised car testing);
  •         Clarify whether the testing regime for Volkswagen vehicle emissions has been manipulated or loopholes exploited specifically in the UK and whether this extends to both fuel efficiency tests and all car manufacturers.
  1.    The annual Which? Car survey is the UK’s most robust car reliability and satisfaction survey. Drivers can tell us what they think of their cars, here: www.which.co.uk/carsurvey21


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