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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.
The announcement made at a meeting of Germany’s cooperative banking community made clear that national type approval authorities, the country bodies in charge of enforcing products’ compliance with the law, will be regulated EU-wide. The Industry Commissioner Bieńkowska confirmed T&E’s repeated assertions that “the type approval systems in member states have failed.” She also said: “In the future, we want to control and check whether national authorities work in an orderly fashioned …..it’s about changing the whole system”.
The European system of approving cars for sale has been discredited by disclosures of VW cheating tests and evidence that all new cars are producing much more pollution on the road than in laboratory tests. On average new cars produce 40% more CO2 on the road than in official tests and new diesels emitting five times more nitrogen oxides on the road than in tests. Revelations that the German Type Approval Authority (KBA) failed to investigate the evidence of VW cheating further demonstrated the lack of control and scrutiny.
Clean Vehicles Manager Greg Archer said: “There is widespread evidence of systematic manipulation of car tests and that national type approval authorities have failed to do their job. The system is not fit for purpose and we are delighted the Commission agrees it needs a major overhaul.”
National Type Approval Authorities approve cars that are then sold EU-wide. But the Authorities have allowed so called “golden cars” to be specially tuned to produce artificially low results in the lab. The authorities have also failed to adequately scrutinise the tests or that the cars being sold are representative of those being tested. There is a clear conflict of interest with each national authority competing for the business of approving cars enabling manufacturers able to go “type approval shopping.”
T&E has proposed three key changes to the Type Approval Framework Directive that the Commission plans to reform:
To establish a politically independent ‘European Road Vehicle Inspection’ body. This should be responsible for checking the performance of vehicles on sale match those tested in laboratories and undertaking inspections – a similar role to that performed by the US EPA. This should be funded through a small levy on each new vehicle sale. The body would oversee the work of national authorities to ensure the level of scrutiny is consistently high.
For the rules governing the type approval of vehicles to be strengthened so that National Type Approval Authorites operate a consistently high level of scrutiny.
That new real driving emissions tests (RDE) are introduced for CO2 emissions and all air pollutants in additional to diesel NOx emissions. These tests should be performed on the same cars as sold in dealerships.
“An independent European body can eradicate cheating. This way new cars will deliver similar emissions on the road to those tested in laboratories. The Commissions announcement if effectively implemented will help to re-establish faith in the European automotive industry and regulations that have been undermined by the drip-drip of recent disclosures,” Greg Archer concluded.