Peugeot, Citroen Come Clean: Real Fuel Use Won’t Match Sticker

  • French automaker’s results called in line with the industry
  • Peugeot cars tested used 44% more fuel on road than in lab

A visitor passes new PSA Peugeot Citroen vehicles for sale at the Kaliantasis automobile dealership in the Glyfada district of Athens.

Photographer: Yorgos Karahalis/Bloomberg

PSA Group published test results showing the mileage claims for its cars don’t match up with reality, the first time a carmaker has confirmed the gap between lab and road results across a wide model range.

The 14 Peugeot models tested used an average 44 percent more fuel in real life than their specifications claim, while consumption for 11 Citroen cars was 39 percent higher, according to data PSA released Wednesday. Three cars in the high-end DS range used an average 40 percent more fuel than advertised. The disparity doesn’t just hit drivers’ pocketbooks; it’s also a measure for how much additional pollution a car emits as it burns diesel or gasoline.

Conducted in cooperation with environmental groups and audited by Bureau Veritas SA, the tests are an effort by PSA to bolster consumers’ trust in the wake of the Volkswagen AG emissions-cheating scandal. The German manufacturer admitted last September to installing software to cheat on pollution tests in some 11 million diesel cars around the world, including 8.5 million in Europe.

“The gap between real-life and lab figures is an open secret,” said Jean Thevenon, who leads transport and sustainable development for France Nature Environnement, one of the groups that helped PSA design its road test. Greg Archer, who worked on the PSA test protocol for advocacy group Transport & Environment, said PSA’s results were in line with the industry.

The federation of environmental groups is working on a similar protocol to measure real-life emissions of nitrogen oxides, the smog-causing diesel pollution at the center of the VW scandal, Thevenon said. The NOx test will be ready in 2017. Wednesday’s results were relevant for carbon dioxide, which is emitted by both diesel and gas-powered vehicles.

Transparency Commitment

PSA’s results were in line with its “commitment to transparency,” research and development chief Gilles Le Borgne said in the statement. The carmaker promised to provide real-life emissions figures for another 20 models by the end of the year and said it would offer an online fuel-consumption simulator so buyers can assess how much they’ll probably pay at the pump based on driving style and road conditions.

Unlike in lab tests which use stripped-down vehicles and eschew air conditioning, PSA’s measurements were made on public roads with passengers, luggage and climate control. Cars drove between 25.5 kilometers (15.8 miles) and 35.7 kilometers. Three tests were carried out for each model, with two different drivers.

The gasoline-powered Peugeot 3008 compact crossover had the biggest absolute gap between real-life and lab results, consuming 7.6 liters (2 gallons) of gas per 100 kilometers in PSA’s road tests. That compared with 4.9 liters per 100 kilometers according to the New European Driving Cycle, the standardized test procedure in the European Union.

On average, one of the diesel Peugeot 208 hatchbacks tested consumed 4.7 liters of diesel each 100 kilometers, versus 3.5 liters per 100 kilometers in the EU standard test. The road results matched up with those obtained from customer surveys, PSA said.

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