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Road tests to measure emissions

Europe
28.10.2015
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
EU experts agree on road tests to measure diesel emissions
EU member states agreed in principle on Wednesday to use road testing from 2017 to help evaluate diesel car emissions, on top of the laboratory tests that have been at the heart of a scandal around the German automotive giant Volkswagen.
GALLERY
Brussels (dpa) - But environmental groups were critical of the deal, arguing that it is weakened by loopholes pandering to the car industry.

Volkswagen admitted last month that it had installed software in its diesel-powered vehicles aimed at evading emissions tests around the world. The software becomes active during lab controls, producing lower results than under real driving conditions.

EU efforts to introduce road tests predate the Volkswagen scandal. The European Commission says it has known for several years that lab tests for diesel car emissions can produce substantially lower results than on-road performance.

Under Wednesday‘s agreement, new versions of diesel cars must be tested for nitrogen oxide levels on the road as well as in the lab from September 2017, in order to receive market authorization in the European Union, the bloc‘s executive said.

Two years later, this will start applying to every new car manufactured for the EU market.

But member states agreed that on-road results can be more than twice as high than lab tests for an initial 28-month period, after which it would still be acceptable for cars to produce real driving emissions that are 50 per cent greater than under lab conditions.

The leeway is intended to give manufacturers time to adjust to the new rules, and to allow in part for a margin of error. At present, real driving emissions are on average four times higher than the permissible lab limits, the commission said.

Earlier in the day, EU Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska had stressed the need for a quick decision, in light of the Volkswagen scandal. Any delay would have "huge negative consequences" for the automotive industry and consumer trust, she said.

But environmentalists slammed the compromise deal.

"This is a scandalous and cynical decision by EU governments," said EU lawmaker Bas Eickhout of the alliance of Greens in the European Parliament. "This new test ... is a sham," he added.

"European governments are effectively rewarding the cheaters," said Jiri Jerabek of the environmental organization Greenpeace, calling the decision "outrageous."

"It seems governments would rather citizens die as a result of diesel exhaust emissions than require carmakers to fit technology typically costing 100 euros (110.5 dollars)," added Greg Archer of the Transport and Environment campaign group.

The head of the German Automobile Industry Association, Matthias Wissmann, expressed support for the road tests but warned that the targets are "extremely ambitious," creating large technical and economic challenges for the car industry.

Road tests do not produce constant results, he noted, stressing the need for leeway. "Every drive, even with the same model on the same route, is different," he added.

Wednesday‘s decision, taken by a panel of experts representing each of the bloc‘s 28 member states, must still be vetted by EU lawmakers and governments. However they only have limited scope to appeal.

 

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