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Fleetwide CO2 improvement in EU might not be as good as it appears

What, you expected European automakers to test their vehicle emissions levels on gravel roads in a wind storm? Charged with cutting CO2 emissions by more than 30 percent within the next seven years, automakers reduced fleetwide emissions by four percent last year. Of course, such automakers may be gaming the system by testing cars on "unrealistically" smooth road surfaces and with tires that can provide extra traction, Reuters says. No word on whether such cars wind-drafted behind semi trucks.

Officially, European cars achieved fleetwide emissions of 127 grams of CO2 per kilometer. That means that the European Union (EU) deadline for cutting emissions to 130 g/km by 2015 has already been met. The problem, the European Commission says, is that all-too-optimal test conditions created a bit of a loophole. In fact, as much as a third of the emissions decline from 2002 to 2010 may have come as a result of some too-good-to-be-true testing conditions.

No one is naming names, so we'll just have to guess about who's gaming the system. We do know where the highs and lows are, though. Renault said last year that it was the first vehicle maker to ever have fleetwide emissions of less than 115 g/km and that it cut emissions by nine percent in 2012. On the flip side, German luxury automakers such as BMW have argued that reaching the EU's emissions targets will be technically impossible without (cough, cough) government assistance.

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