Tougher legislation on cheat devices is being proposed
The Government has revealed plans to take punitive action against any car makers that fit emissions cheat devices with an "unlimited fine".
The initiative, led by Jesse Norman, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Transport, is designed to allow the UK to pursue action against cars that it deems illegal, even if they have been type approved in a different country.
While it is believed that the proposal will have no retrospective bearing on the Volkswagen Dieselgate affair, it is designed to give the government more powers in the event of a similar scandal. It is described by the DfT as going "above and beyond European requirements".
However, it is not clear how the government is proposing it will pursue its punitive action if wrong-doing is discovered, or if it would look to fine and potentially prosecute the car manufacturer or the body that gave type approval.
“We continue to take the unacceptable actions of Volkswagen extremely seriously, and we are framing new measures to crack down on emissions cheats in future," said Norman. “Those who cheat should be held to proper account in this country, legally and financially, for their actions.”
The Department for Transport is also proposing to raise awareness of the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test (WLTP) and Real Driving Emissions (RDE ) tests among the public, to clamp down on regulations for modified and specialist vehicles to make sure they comply with the law and to increase its powers to bar the sale of certified vehicles that it subsequently deems to be in breach of the law.
The Government’s terse statement on the plans - which are also believed to have been raised by Prime Minister Theresa May to reporters covering her current trip to China - revealed little detail around the plans.
This includes details in regards to the clampdown on the modified and specialist vehicle sector, which has long thrived in the UK, or on how the proposals would be policed.
In response to the proposals, Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “Every new car sold in the UK meets the strictest of regulations governing everything from safety to emissions standards and how vehicles are tested and approved for sale.
“Government’s own testing of vehicles on the road has consistently shown them to be fully compliant, and we are pleased that government recognises that manufacturers have been rigorous in meeting the standards.
“There are already severe penalties for any manufacturer involved in any kind of misconduct in the type approval process conducted here in the UK and the government is now looking to extend this to all vehicles wherever they have been approved.
“All new cars meet the toughest emission standards and government now has more powers to conduct in-service testing so consumers can be confident they are buying the cleanest and safest cars in history.”