VW emissiongate: Up to 1 million tons of illegal pollution each year

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The recent revelation that there are possibly 11 million Volkswagen diesel cars with much higher smog-forming emissions than is legal out there, spewing 10 to 40x more pollutants than the limit, was shocking. But what does that mean exactly? Some engineers pulled out their calculators and did some math on the extra pollution that was caused by VW's deceptive practices. The numbers are pretty staggering.

Update: Volkswagen CEO resigns over emission rigging scandal

If we look at just the 482,000 VW and Audi vehicles that have been recalled in the US, they normally would have emitted about 1145 tons of NOx each year in total (1,039 metric tonnes) if they drove the average number of miles driven in the US. But because of the software hack designed to only run emission controls full during emissions tests, those diesels have been emitting 10 to 40x more NOx. This means that the affected US TDI fleet instead spewed between 11,455 and 45,824 tons, way more than the limit.

If we extrapolate these numbers to the worldwide fleet of affected VW diesels, we get between between 261,425 and 1,045,752 tons of NOx pollution each year. According to the Guardian, this is "roughly the same as the UK’s combined emissions for all power stations, vehicles, industry and agriculture."

Eiffel Tower Paris smogD€NNI$/CC BY-NC 2.0

Europe is likely to be much more affected by this than the US since almost half of their cars are diesels, while only a small percentage (around 3%) are in the US. Actions by European regulators against VW should be expected.

This is why, for example, France is offering incentives to swap out diesels for plug-ins and the mayor of Paris (pictured above, enveloped in decidedly non-romantic smog) wants to ban diesel by 2020.

VW Golf TDI 2009Wikimedia/CC BY-SA 3.0

Via The Guardian

Tags: Air Pollution | Air Quality | Transportation


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