Overestimated fuel efficiency leads to additional costs for car owners and companies, as well a loss in tax revenues needed to support public services.
Transport is the second largest expenditure item for households in Europe, just after the cost of housing. It costs them, on average, €1,900 per person every year, which represents 13% of their spending.
Within the transport sector, the use of personal transport equipment (like cars) is by far the biggest cost. Most of the time, using and maintaining a vehicle costs more than twice the price of buying it. And since cars burn more fuel than officially stated, these extra costs come as a nasty surprise.
The cost for the average vehicle buyer is now about €549 higher than the manufacturers’ data suggests, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation.
By reducing cars’ fuel consumption, the money saved could be spent on other goods and services, boosting national economies and employment.
Company cars often have a mileage four times as high as private cars. As a consequence, the benefit for fleet operators would quadruple as well.
As a result, they’re also trying to reduce the cost of their fleets through more efficient fuel consumption. But, here as well, their efforts are undermined by the growing gap between official fuel consumption figures and real-world values. This gives rise to additional fuel costs, which were not previously taken into account.
National exchequers face a major challenge. Higher CO2 emissions lead to higher vehicle taxes. Distorted fuel consumption figures therefore lead to a significant reduction in tax revenue. In Germany, for instance, the estimated yearly motor vehicle tax loss has increased to roughly €1.4 billion per year. This reduces states’ ability to invest money in sustainable transport (expansion of public transportation, construction of cycle paths and incentives for low-emission cars).