European car makers are still fudging emission tests

exhaust
© THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images

But this time they are making cars look dirtier, not cleaner.

One might think that European car makers would have learned something from the last emissions scandal that almost sunk Volkswagen and destroyed diesel. But in fact, they are still at it. But this time it is different; instead of making their cars look cleaner, they are actually trying make them look dirtier.

The European Commission is demanding that car makers reduce emissions by 15 percent between 2020 and 2025, so instead of making their emissions look artificially low, they now want them to look higher, so that the reductions are easier to achieve since they are starting at a higher base point. According to Patrick McGee in the Financial Times, the commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) found that test vehicles were configured to inflate emissions.

Detailed test data from two vehicles found what appeared to be deliberate distortion: “Tests were carried out starting with a depleted battery, so that additional fuel was consumed to charge the battery during the test,” the JRC wrote. The stop-start function — a system to shut down the engine when idle to cut emissions — was disabled. The JRC also found “gear-shifting strategies” in which cars were driven in gears that would cause a “significant” rise in CO2 emissions.

This apparently caused emissions to appear between 4.5 and 13 percent over their normal configurations. They do not say which car makers in particular are the villains here, just that the authorities are not amused, saying, “We don’t like tricks.” They will look for “measured values, not those declared by the carmakers” and will monitor enforcement.

The EU is demanding that emissions be reduced by 30 percent by 2030; given that these numbers are so meaningless, perhaps they should reconsider and demand 100 percent reductions; surely in 12 years we could go all electric.

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