Today’s discovery by Belgian national TV that official Opel dealers have been modifying anti-pollution software in Zafira diesel cars without informing their customers is a further indication the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal is the tip of the iceberg. The software responsible for the functioning of exhaust after-treatment of Zafira 2014 series cars with a 1.6 diesel engine was being adjusted to have the cars emit three times less nitrogen oxide (NOx) than before the software update.
When French investigators swooped on Renault last week to seize computers, it was yet another stark illustration of the systemic failure of car testing in Europe. Their investigation is linked to the Volkswagen emissions scandal, where national testing authorities failed to detect or even investigate the cheating – despite being made aware of the exceptionally high on-road emissions.
In a year when the auto-industry was rocked by the #dieselgate scandal we also learned Volkswagen distorted tests for fuel economy and CO2 emissions as well. It was not surprising; contrary to industry claims of progress on efficiency there had been no real-world progress for a third successive year.
Europe’s diesel cars received indirect subsidies totalling almost €27 billion last year through lower fuel taxes, a new study has found. Diesel fuel was taxed at, on average, 14 cent less per litre than petrol in 2014, according to Europe’s tax deals for diesel, which was published by T&E last month.
In order to continuously improve fuel economy information in the interest of customers, PSA Peugeot Citroën and the NGO Transport & Environment have agreed to work together to measure and publicise real-world fuel economy figures as a first step by spring 2016, and pollutant levels including nitrogen oxides (NOx) as a second step with Euro 6.2 passenger vehicles by spring 2017.
Industry and civil society groups working on transport have criticised today's State of the Energy Union speech by Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič for failing to prioritise e-mobility as a major means of decarbonising transport. The majority of EU states lag significantly behind Norway – where one out of every five cars sold is electric, the platform of 12 organisations, which includes power sector representative Eurelectric, railway operators' body CER, and sustainable transport group Transport & Environment, said.
Institutional investors with a total of €12 trillion of assets under management have called for EU policymakers to restore confidence in Europe's car emissions testing regime by introducing on-the-road testing for CO2 emissions. Sustainable transport group Transport & Environment said it highlights the importance of ending the systematic manipulation of car testing, and that this can only be achieved by establishing effective oversight of the EU car testing system – as announced by European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker yesterday.
Transport & Environment (T&E) warmly welcomes the announcement by Commission President Juncker that the European Commission will introduce an effective oversight of the EU system for testing cars.
In the last few days several announcements have demonstrated how the initial exposure of Volkswagen’s cheating US tests is merely the tip of an iceberg of test manipulation. In the US more models, including models from Porsche, have been accused of having illegal levels of diesel NOx emissions. This was followed by VW admitting that it overstated fuel economy and CO2 figures by 10-15% on 800,000 vehicles, including petrol cars. In a further announcement, the environmental group Deutsche Umwelthilfe (Environmental Action Germany, DUH) exposed suspicious test results on an Opel Zafira. General Motors deny any wrongdoing.