New diesels, new problems

Diesel car sales are in free fall. The Dieselgate scandal caused a collapse in customer confidence exacerbated by increasing restrictions on diesel car use in cities. In an attempt to ensure past investments in diesel technology can provide a return, the car industry claim new diesel cars are now "clean". This report demonstrates that the strictest EU car pollution controls are failing to stop large amounts of dangerous particle pollution from diesel cars. It is accompanied by the lab report of Ricardo, which conducted the tests.

The executive summary of the report is available in English, French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish.

It presents the results of independent lab tests which reveal that even the latest diesel models are a serious health hazard. This is mainly because the best available pollution control technology, diesel particle filters (DPFs), has to be cleaned regularly (‘regenerated’) which causes diesel vehicles to ‘spill out’ large amounts of pollution roughly every 480km. 

Tests show these spikes can occur in urban areas and last as long as 15km, during which emissions of dangerous particle pollution surge to over 1,000 times their normal rate. This flaw was written out of EU emissions tests: when the extreme particle emission peaks occur, emission limits are ignored and tests reinitiated although more stringent regulation was discussed as early as 2007. 

T&E estimates that more than 45 million cars carry the technology in Europe, producing pollution spikes which occur once a fortnight on average. The findings disprove automotive industry claims that the newest Euro 6d-temp diesel models are clean, which should be acknowledged when designing clean air policies, and especially the future post-Euro 6 standard.

Particle pollution is increasingly seen as ‘pollution enemy number one’. Ambient particulate matter is ranked as the 6th highest risk factor for total deaths globally. Particle pollution affects more people than any other pollutant, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), with 77% of the inhabitants of European cities exposed to levels above WHO guidelines.