BBC Panorama carried out tests on Volkswagen diesel cars and found that not only do they cheat US tests, they can also dupe official European pollution tests.
Volkswagen admitted that they used a “cheat device” to get around US testing but have been less clear about whether they used the same tactics to get around European tests. Panorama’s research has revealed that the same tactics have, in fact, been used here.
This could be a big blow for VW as they say they are yet to determine if the cheat software and engine modifications break European pollution laws.
As we already know, over 8.5 million cars in Europe have the test cheating software, with 1.2 million in the UK. This software is in the car’s computer and can work out when the car’s emissions are being tested in a laboratory or on the road.
Panorama took a VW Passat Blue Motion with a diesel engine to an accredited laboratory in the Czech Republic. According to the BBC, no British laboratory would allow the tests to take place on their premises, but the Czech laboratory is governed by the same rules and regulations as the UK. They often certify new cars and engines for the European market.
The programme makers ran the test for poisonous Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) gases and the car passed. This was because the car knew it was under test circumstances. The engine went from cold to hot after being driven on a rolling road for six miles. The gears change at the same time and the car travels within a speed of two km/h either side of set limits.
Then the test was run again but this time the test started with a warm engine, and then tricked the engine into thinking it was on the open road. A few hard accelerations and taking the car above motorway speeds showed that the NOx levels were far too high.
In the laboratory tests the cheat device offered an emissions level of 167mg/km of NOx. The Euro 5 limit is 180mg/km. Once the cheat device was overridden and in the “on road” test, the car produced 435mg/km.
VW were approached after the tests and admitted that the car had been cheating as it knew how to distinguish between laboratory testing and on road emissions.
The Panorama programme seems to confirm what we already suspected, namely that the affected cars which were sold in the UK emit higher than allowed NOx emissions when being driven on the road. We therefore call upon VW to confirm that the cars were designed to cheat EU emissions testing and are in fact far more polluting than they have admitted.
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.