posted 6 months ago

Government Drops Independent, In-Use, Car Emission Tests

Car makers – despite VW Group emission scandal - trusted to ensure cars hit emission targets following a period of use.

Lack of independent testing is “deeply disturbing”

A Department for Transport scheme that independently checked vehicles continued to meet emission standards after a period of service was cancelled in 2011, the BBC revealed. Transport Select Committee Chair, Louise Ellman, considers this “deeply disturbing”. 

The Department for Transport formerly tested 10 models of vehicle per-annum. This was, by some, considered important as pollution from internal combustion engines is bad for the environment and public health. Nitrogen Oxides cause breathing issues, for example. 

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During the final years of the scheme, a couple of models failed to meet in-service standards for the United Kingdom. These were the Mitsubishi Carisma petrol (2005/2006) and the MINI One D (2008/09). 

Transport Select Committee expects answers

Louise Ellman added: "I will be pursuing both the VCA (Vehicle Certification Agency) and the Department for Transport on how this happened when they appear in front of the Committee as part of our ongoing enquiry." The Committee is very aware of car emission issues, particularly since the VW Group cheated environmental tests.

Government acting within the law

The Government – irrespective of whether it should inspect vehicles that have been in use - has not broken the law. European Union regulations only require manufacturers to test such products then pass any results to the type-approval authority, the BBC explained. 

A Department for Transport spokesman confirmed: “Manufacturers have always been required to conduct in-service testing to ensure their vehicles continue to meet regulations”. Vehicles must, therefore, perform to a minimum standard in the long term, not only when new.

“The VCA previously conducted additional testing on top of this, but a decision was taken in 2011 to divert resources to improving the VCA’s understanding of the effect after market alterations are having on vehicle emissions.” In other words, how (say) tweaking software to improve acceleration influences the tailpipe emissions.

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The spokesperson continued: “We are fully committed to improving air quality - and have led calls at a European level for Real Driving Emissions testing that will mean all new cars have to adhere to robust real world standards from as early as next year”.

Sweden, Germany and America test emissions independently

In contrast to the British Government, the Swedish, German and Americans check vehicle emissions independently. John German is from the International Council on Clean Transportation and a key figure in exposing the VW Group emission scandal. He told the BBC:

"Based upon in-use testing (in the United States of America) - as well as defect reports - there were 42 voluntary and mandatory emission-related recalls in 2009, 39 in 2010 and 53 in 2011."  His colleague Peter Mock added he is "convinced” that it is very important for Governments to carry out independent emission checks.