Car manufacturers that have cheated emissions tests have cost drivers in Europe an extra €149.6 billion (£134bn) on fuel over the last 18 years.
That’s according to research and campaign group Transport & Environment, which reveals the figure totalled €23.4 billion (£21bn) last year alone – slightly more than what all Swedes spent on food – due to vehicles not performing as well on the road as they had in official laboratory tests as a result of gaming fuel efficiency tests.
It adds since 2000, the manipulation of emissions tests has produced an additional 264 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.
Germany was the top cheated nation, with drivers paying €36 billion (£32bn) more since 2000 and €5.5 billion (£4.9bn) in extra fuel last year alone.
They were followed by British motorists at €24.1 billion (£21.6bn), the French at €20.5 billion (£18bn), Italians at €16.4 billion (£14.7bn) and Spaniards at €12 billion (£11bn).
Transport & Environment adds the gap between tests and real-world performance has leapt from 9% in 2000 to 42% in 2016 as a result of carmakers manipulating laboratory tests.
Greg Archer, Clean Vehicles Director at Transport & Environment said: “Despite regulations to reduce emissions, there has been no real-world improvement in CO2 emissions for five years and just a 10% improvement since 2000 – far less than the industry like to claim.
“The victims are citizens that have paid out €150 billion [£135bn] for more fuel and are also suffering the consequences of unchecked climate change.”
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association said until September 2017, the New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) lab test was the basis for regulatory fuel consumption and CO2 information, as well as for measuring pollutant emissions and that the automotive industry actively contributed to the development of the new test cycle (WLTP).
A spokesperson added: “Even though WLTP provides a far more realistic representation of conditions encountered on the road than NEDC, it still does not cover all possible variations. Given that driving behaviour, traffic and weather conditions continue to differ from one situation to another, there will always be a difference between emissions measured in lab conditions and the real world.
“As there is no single real-world emission value, only values obtained by standardised laboratory tests allow us to directly compare the emissions and fuel consumption of different car models from different car manufacturers. Nonetheless, it is a matter of fact that technological improvements to new cars have resulted in major CO2 reductions in the past decades, leading to important savings for consumers.”