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European Emissions Testing for Cars to Remain Lax

By National Practice Group Leader, Group Litigation

Europe will continue to fail to cut down on high levels of NOx pollution as countries decide to allow lax emissions testing to continue.

VW Emissions PollutionAfter the Volkswagen scandal, many expected a crackdown on the techniques car manufacturers use in order to manipulate the testing for emissions in labs. Members of the European Parliament have called for an investigation into why the European Commission and national regulators failed to stop the use of ‘defeat devices’ in emissions tests when their officials knew about the cheating as early as 2013.

The European Commission proposed that car makers should be allowed to go over NOx emissions limits by 60% until 2019 – and then 20% indefinitely after that – so as to cover the inaccuracy there can be in the tests. However, these concessions have been further enhanced by the Technical Committee of Motor Vehicles.

European countries in the Technical Committee of Motor Vehicles have voted to allow the European car industry even more time to adjust in order to meet the legal emissions limit for NOx pollution.

From September 2017 to 2020, car manufacturers will be allowed to exceed the legal levels of NOx by 110%. From 2020 onwards, they will still be able to exceed the legal level of NOx emissions by 50%, despite the fact that pumping NOx in the atmosphere is bad for our health and can worsen heart and lung diseases.

A study on the impact of Volkswagen’s emissions cheating by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology only makes the situation seem worse. The study, led by Steven Barrett, Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, estimated that the emissions will cause 60 early deaths and kill up to 200 people in Britain because of the high population density and number of cars we have in this country.

What the UK Transport Secretary Said

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has told the House of Commons that VW may have to foot the bill for any fall in the resale value of its cars in the wake of emissions test cheating, saying the firm must “address the issue.”

The call came in response to Democratic Unionist MP Jim Shannon asking if the Transport Secretary agreed that the “full financial implications” of the matter should be “given to the feet of Volkswagen and Audi.”

The Times says declining car values of 5% a month could equal £500 per vehicle, meaning VW could face a £600m compensation bill over decreased values.

The Transport Secretary commented on VW’s delays in confirming details of compensation and repairs, saying: “I will be looking to Volkswagen who have, it has to be said, acted disgracefully in this whole episode, to ensure that they live up to the expectations which they promised originally. We will be working to make sure that does happen." He also said an EU decision to introduce tougher emissions tests for diesel cars was “an important milestone."

What the VW Boss Said

  • In a five-point plan Matthias Müller has said the company will “change their mindset and culture”. 
  • In an apology to shareholders and customers, he said VW will be “ruthless” in punishing their employees who were involved in the scandal. 
  • Speaking to analysts and investors he said, “We are leaving no stone unturned to find out what exactly happened and to make sure nothing like this ever happens again.”

If you have been affected by the VW emissions scandal, either as a vehicle owner, business or shareholder, please register your details with us on our VW Emissions Scandal Investigation page.

Jacqueline Young is Head of Group Litigation at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.

Follow Jacqueline Young on Twitter for live updates on the VW scandal.

Group Litigation, VW

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