Since the Dieselgate scandal – which exposed systemic cheating of emissions tests by carmakers – the EU has carried out a comprehensive overhaul of the way cars are tested and type-approved. Rules for trucks had already been tightened before. Drawing lessons from systematic cheating in the car industry, namely the following changes have been made: A new laboratory test has been introduced and is complemented by Real-Driving Emissions tests on the road, where there is a greater variability of test conditions. Secondly, the opaque “type approval” system, whereby new vehicles and automotive components are tested to ensure they comply with EU safety and environmental rules, has been revised. From September 2020 onwards, requirements for national type approval authorities will be tightened and the European Commission will be granted new powers, especially in order to launch EU-wide recalls of faulty cars.
The current approval system, which failed to stop Dieselgate
Under the current rules, manufacturers may choose from any of the 28 EU type approval authorities (TAAs) to pay to approve their products. So, they go “shopping” around for the best offer. There is no oversight to ensure the authorities all work to the same standard and apply the EU rules correctly. In the absence of this, TAAs compete for manufacturers’ business because they know very well that if one authority becomes too strict, the client will simply go to the more friendly authority. In contrast to other systems, such as in the US, no independent verification testing takes place once vehicles and parts are in use – market surveillance is the responsibility of the industry itself.