£1m government tests confirm VW Group was cheating, but while all other cars tested are legal, almost all have "disappointing" real-world emissions
Jim Holder
21 April 2016

Independent UK and German government testing has not uncovered any evidence of manufacturers other than the VW Group using defeat devices in emissions tests, but it has highlighted the gap between official laboratory test results and real-world emissions figures.

The Department for Transport report, revealed today, concluded that “existing lab tests designed to ensure emissions limits are met have been shown to be inadequate and this is why the UK has secured a tough new Europe-wide Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test”.

The Department for Transport is to be abolished, read more here

The RDE is set to be introduced in a staged process beginning next year and will include some real-world driving emissions measurements. Along with other emissions test and type approval changes, Europe's testing regime is set to be the toughest in the world by 2019.

Commenting on the confirmation that only VW Group cars were employing defeat devices in official NEDC emissions tests, transport minister Robert Goodwill said: “This finding is a significant step forward in assuring drivers that the serious breach of trust committed by Volkswagen is not more prevalent.”

The tests were carried out on 56 vehicles in Germany and 37 in the UK, with the sample targeted at a 75% spread of the top 100 best-selling diesel models of recent years, representing more than 50% of diesels on UK roads, powered by both Euro 5 and Euro 6 compliant engines. Non-VW vehicles included the Ford Focus, BMW 3 Series, Jaguar XE, Nissan Qashqai, Vauxhall Astra and Volvo V40. The government estimates the test programme cost tax payers £1m.

The cars were sourced from car hire fleets and had covered no more than 30,000 miles to ensure that they could not have been interfered with and were in good mechanical condition, a move taken after accusations has been made that car makers were submitting optimised cars for official tests. They were all fuelled by the same batch of diesel.

However, while all cars met the legally required levels of emissions in lab tests, real-world testing on track, particularly when the cars were tested with the engines pre-warmed, resulted in NOx emissions on average five times higher than those recorded with the engines pre-warmed in lab tests for Euro 5 engines and 4.5 times higher for Euro 6 engines.

In particular, exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) systems came in for scrutiny, and particularly the fact that manufacturers legally alter the level of EGR according to ambient conditions in order to ensure the longevity of parts. While this is legal, Department for Transport officials described the gap between lab and real-world results as "surprising" and highlighted that the loophole presented by allowing selective EGR use to extend parts life was being closed by changing regulations.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin concluded: “Following the Volkswagen emissions scandal, the whole of the automotive industry must work hard to restore public trust by being transparent about the systems they employ and advancing plans for introducing cleaner engine technology.”

Goodwill added: “I’m disappointed that the results are as bad as they are in the real world. Our real-world tests have shown that the cars are not as clean as we thought. It is up to the industry now to meet the RDE standards, that we have been pushing hard for over some years. It is clear from the range of results that the industry can do better, and the new regulations will ensure than they will.”

Responding to the government's findings, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which represents the views of the motor industry, said: "What is immediately clear is that the vehicles tested met the legal standards with no new evidence that any other manufacturer has used any kind of lab cycle test recognition technology.

"The differences between the results from official laboratory tests and those performed in the 'real world' are well known, and [the] industry acknowledges the need for fundamental reform of the current test regime, which does it no favours."

Commenting on the introduction of the RDE test in Europe, the SMMT said the changes would "require signficant additional investment by manufacturers, but will add greater transparency so consumers can be more confident [the] industry is delivering on air quality while providing ever greater choice."

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Comments
12

21 April 2016
In the US VW customers are being given £3500 for the scandal, in Europe? Zilch, nothing not a penny, only the fact that the tax isn't going to increase by about £5 or so a year.

Well done VAG looking after your customers here well as always!!

bol

21 April 2016
They might have understated their co2 emissions slightly, but didn't break the rules about nox. The rules are rubbish, but if we prosecuted a manufacturer each time they did something unethical that exploited loopholes in useless legistlation we'd soon find ourselves on foot. Roll on some proper, meaningful regulation.

21 April 2016
Does anyone know about Skoda? Did they not cheat too?

21 April 2016
flt158 wrote:

Does anyone know about Skoda? Did they not cheat too?

It's the Volkswagen GROUP which cheated. Therefore, Skoda too.

21 April 2016
No new Euro 6 vehicle tested got close to the legal limit for NOx. Not even close. Some were emitting 10 times published figures. Yet Autocar (led by Steve Cropley) are continuing to peddle the SMMT PR that Euro 6 diesels are 'clean' and criticism of them is 'wrong-headed'. Who are here for? Industry, or your readers? Isn't it time you changed course?

21 April 2016
I really don't think this is good enough. Car makers like JLR, BMW, Mercedes, etc should all be compensated by Audi. And VW should be forced to compensate it's competition. VAG has stolen sales from other companies by faking it's emmission results.

Consumers should of course also be compensated but VAG should be done for anti competitive behaviour

21 April 2016
Shut up, Jim. I've just been reading articles today stating how 37 different new cars across multiple marques were tested and none passed on real world tests! But it doesn't count as they weren't done in laboratory! But that's fine - keep on beating the VAG is the devil drum like you have been doing so relentlessly for the last several months. Well done.

21 April 2016
VAG designed, implemented and used cheat devices to manipulate tests. What's difficult to understand? Other marques have not done this only VAG.

Yes, other marques have been shown in more real life tests to emit more than stated, but they were not using cheat devices.

If this was a room full of people sitting an exam and one person was sat their using a cheat device to pass, everyone would be livid.

22 April 2016
800,000 cars including more than 500,000 Nissans they make for them - all lies about economy. Friend told me yesterday their company Outlander quasi Hybrid is only giving them 31mpg !!! and thats on the motorway at 70mph May I remind you in case you forgot
In the early 2000s, the company had to admit to lying about defects in its cars for decades.Back then, an internal investigation found that the firm had covered up faults since 1977 and repaired cars secretly, instead of reporting the problems to the transport ministry.
The cover-up led to huge recalls, criminal charges against several employees and a cost of billions to the company.
This story of lying and cheating is not over - many more are going to be caught in the Emissiongate

what's life without imagination

25 April 2016
5wheels wrote:

Friend told me yesterday their company Outlander quasi Hybrid is only giving them 31mpg !!! and thats on the motorway at 70mph

That's what happens why you buy a car for the BIK benefit and not for what the car is actually designed for.

The Outlander PHEV is designed for low speed, urban driving. Any PHEV is going to give you worse fuel economy on a long cruise than a non-hybrid counterpart due to the extra weight it will be lugging around.

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