London, May 19 : Road tests conducted on latest models of hybrid cars have dismissed the environmental claims made by their manufacturers as a marketing gimmick.
According to a report in The Times, the road tests, conducted by the Auto Express magazine, criticized the so-called "eco-friendly" cars as pumping out up to 56 per cent more carbon dioxide than the manufacturers claim.
In fact, three models, including the Honda Civic hybrid, performed so badly in tests that their environmental claims were dismissed as a gimmick.
A further five vehicles, including Volkswagen's Polo BlueMotion, hailed as Britain's greenest car when it was claimed that it emitted less than 100 grams of CO2 per km (g/km), failed to match the claims made by their makers.
The magazine has accused manufacturers of attempting to cash in on concerns about global warming.
According to David Johns, the magazine's editor, demand for eco-friendly cars was rising rapidly but it could be hard for consumers to determine what was "truly green or just pure gimmick".
Almost a quarter of new cars now claim a CO2 rating of less than 140g/ km. Those with a figure below 120g/ km accounted for one in 20 sales last year. It is thought that there would have been more, given a better supply.
The Honda Civic hybrid, regarded widely as one of the lowest emitting cars, performed the worst in the tests. Instead of the 109g/km of CO2 claimed in the makers' specifications, it was found to put out 171g/km.
The testers said its electric motor was "not strong enough to propel the oddball four-door Civic on its own" and they concluded that the vehicle "failed to match the firm's economy claims".
The second car labelled a gimmick was the Lexus GS450h, which managed fuel consumption of 26.7 miles per gallon (mpg) in the road test compared with the claimed 35.8 mpg - meaning higher carbon emissions.
Skoda's Fabia Greenline was condemned because its emissions were higher than two other less bulky super-minis that use the same 1.4 litre diesel engine - the Polo BlueMotion and Seat's Ibiza ECOmotive.