PSA bravely reveals industry's dirty secret
Give credit to PSA Group for being bold enough to reveal in great detail something none of its rivals would publicly admit: That the CO2 numbers on the cars sold in Europe are bogus. How bad? On average the emission produced during real world driving are more than 40 percent worse than promised.
That was the result of tests PSA did on 30 Citroen, DS and Peugeot models together with non-governmental organizations Transport & Environment (T&E) and France Nature Environment (FNE).
Automakers have known for years that they were gaming the system with the current lab-only testing procedure, which is outdated and borderline unethical since a vehicle manufacturer can shop around until it finds the most lenient agency to run the tests.
Environmental groups have been complaining about the discrepancy for decades. The automakers did nothing to improve accuracy of the result. In fact, several of them found new ways to cheat the testing cycle, often with questionable tweaks that taken advantage of weaken in the current rules.
Then, Volkswagen Group committed one of the biggest blunders in recent memory by building a device into its cars that purposely cheats tests that were already way too lenient.
Yes, I realize VW’s cheating was related to NOx and PSA's just-released results exclude NOx and focus on fuel consumption only. But by looking at fuel consumption PSA also shows how much addition CO2 is produced by its vehicles during real world driving. A consumer is not going to split hairs over CO2 and NOx. To them, emissions are emissions and if the automaker promised X and delivered Y they have reason to be angry.
Last September, when VW was being pulverized for its cheating, PSA was wise enough to distance itself from that mess by joining forces with green-as-grass organizations such as T&E and FNE. PSA allowed them to scrutinize the emissions in its most important vehicles. The French automaker also called in the Bureau Veritas company to audit the real driving results.
This was a bold move and a risk worth taking.
Now the dirty secret is in the open.
The current European tests are a joke and better testing can’t come quickly enough.
In a week where German automakers and supplier are under investigation for price fixing and in a month when VW is looking at a nearly $15 billion bill from the U.S. for its diesel-emissions cheating it is nice to see one of the European automakers doing the right thing.
More proof of PSA's transparency is that the company, which was a pioneer in offering stop-start systems, allow 16 models equipped with the technology to be tested. The results were surprising: Vehicles with stop-start consumes as much as 60 percent more fuel during real world driving than in bench tests. PSA could have fought to avoid this test but it didn't.
PSA will take things even further by not only allowing another 20 models to have their fuel consumption tested by year-end. Next year it will expand the real world testing to measure the true NOx output from its cars.
Which automaker will be brave enough to join PSA?
Thus far, none has publicly announced its findings.