Fuzzy Math
Europe’s Auto Industry Wants to Prolong Green Charade

Europe’s auto industry is hard at work lobbying against new rules that would crack down on “green” chicanery. The European Commission plans to tighten regulations to put a stop to the extraordinary lengths carmakers are going to to boost emissions standards; currently the industry administers special lubricants to engines, tapes panels and doors shut, reduces vehicle weight by removing “extras” like side mirrors and sound systems, and puts on special tires in specific weather conditions to maximize the reported┬ámileage and emissions. As Reuters reports, the industry doesn’t want to see these loopholes closed:

[The European Commission] wants to introduce the tougher standards by September 2017, but a position paper from the European car industry trade group says it “cannot envisage vehicle testing beginning before 1 January 2020”.

The paper from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) — whose members include BMW, Volkswagen and Fiat Chrysler — goes on to say a further year’s delay might be needed because of the time required for all manufacturers to have newly-registered vehicles tested under the new rules. […]

“We all know by now that pumped-up fuel economy figures are the direct result of carmakers gaming the lab tests. EU governments have the opportunity this Thursday to stop this cheating as from 2017,” said Greg Archer, clean vehicles manager of sustainable transport group Transport & Environment.

Europe imagines itself the world’s leader when it comes to environmentally-friendly policies, but at least when it comes to its automobile industry it has to rely on gamed numbers to back that up. Pursuing their own interests, Europe’s carmakers will obviously work hard to continue testing their vehicles under the cushiest of conditions, but if the Commission caves and delays, it will undermine its precious green credibility.

The optics of environmental initiatives, combined with the heavy government support such policies always seem to rely upon, create tremendous incentives for the unscrupulous to game the system. Europe’s auto industry isn’t the first to exploit the very limits of these green policies, and it won’t be the last.

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