A new UK government report has cast doubt on the short-term benefits of driverless cars. The Department for Transport study predicts a “decline in network performance” once one in four cars become driverless. It said early models of the vehicles acted more cautiously and the result could be a “potential decrease in effective capacity” on motorways and A roads. The study did, however, note that should driverless vehicles make up between 50% and 75%, they will reduce congestion.
New real-world emissions tests for modern petrol engines have been backed by EU governments. However, the tests will allow a conformity factor of 50%, meaning new petrol cars will be allowed to exceed current limits on particulate emissions by half – to take account of uncertainties in the test procedure. Governments agreed to stick with the September 2018 proposed date for all new cars to comply with the rules.
National regulators failed to implement the existing rules on vehicle emissions testing, thus paving the way for the Dieselgate scandal, a parliamentary investigation has found. Members of the European Parliament's Dieselgate enquiry identified three main failures by the national authorities in charge of testing new vehicles before they could be sold: failure to independently test cars in order to verify their performance on the road; failure to search for illegal defeat devices despite clear obligations to do so; and failure to put in place and apply dissuasive penalties on carmakers.
By Greg Archer, clean vehicles directorWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: After many false dawns, 2016 is the year electric cars showed they are on a path to rapidly replacing the infernal combustion engine. There are now more than half a million battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on Europe’s roads, and annual sales are expected to top 1.5% of the market for the first time. While the figures are modest, Dieselgate has created an EV earthquake, shaking carmakers from their complacency.
by Julia Poliscanova, clean vehicles and air quality managerWHAT WE LEARNED IN 2016: In response to the Dieselgate scandal, 2016 started with a bang with the Commission’s type approval proposal to reform the EU’s failed system of vehicle testing. The European Parliament also flexed its muscles by refusing to accept the new on-road tests for NOx emissions that doubled and delayed the agreed Euro 6 limits – peace only breaking out when the Commission promised to make the limits stricter in the future. EU policymakers also agreed the new air quality law, the National Emission Ceilings Directive to limit the emissions from member states – although the final outcome was deeply disappointing.
The United Nations Environment Programme says making walking and cycling safer is vital for reducing pollution and climate-changing emissions. A new UNEP report notes the contribution of road transport to global warming and air pollution, yet almost half the 1.3 million people who die each year in traffic accidents are pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists – transport users who generate fewest emissions.
Governments and carmakers are paving the way for a ‘Petrolgate’ scandal. That warning came from T&E after it obtained documents showing some governments and the car industry are trying to weaken the proposed new EU legislation on measuring particulate emissions from cars in real-world tests. Carmakers are trying to avoid having to pay €25 for a gasoline particulate filter, despite the new petrol fleet endangering human health.
A regional government in Germany has been ordered to reduce air pollution following a legal complaint by an NGO. One of T&E’s German members, DUH, took the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia to court, and won. The state has until October 2017 to reduce levels of nitrogen dioxides (NO2) in the city of Düsseldorf.
National regulators turning a blind eye to vehicle test cheating is the main culprit for the 29 million ‘dirty’ diesel cars on European roads today. On the occasion of the Dieselgate anniversary T&E launched a damning report showing that those 29 million cars and vans exceed by at least three times Europe’s legal NOx limits, known as Euro 5 and Euro 6. The vehicles, which grossly pollute the environment and cause thousands of premature deaths every year, were approved for sale by national type approval authorities, mainly in Germany, France and the UK.