Currently reading: VW emissions scandal: key questions answered
What we know about the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal and whether it will affect UK car owners
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3 mins read
23 September 2015

The VW emissions scandal started in the United States, but the firm has since announced that up to 11 million vehicles globally have been sold with the EA-189 engine that could feature the electronics and, potentially, the software used to cheat in testing.

Does the VW emissions scandal affect UK cars?

Potentially - but only potentially. Volkswagen has admitted that it has sold 11 million cars globally with the EA-189 engine at the centre of the controversy. But it’s unclear if all of those engines had precisely the same software installed on them - and, if they did, whether the system could even be used to get around the EU tests that govern the cars sold in the UK.

The UK’s motor industry body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has issued some robust rebuttals on the matter. Its most recent statement said: “The UK automotive industry understands the concerns consumers may have following the actions of one manufacturer in regard to emissions testing and the subsequent decision to recall a large number of its cars. This is, however, an issue affecting just one company and there is no evidence to suggest that any other company is involved, let alone that this is an industry-wide issue.”

So that’s it, then?

Not quite. The investigations into the practice are spreading across different regions, and we’ve already seen enquiries announced in Germany, France, Italy and Canada. The UK Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said yesterday: “We are closely monitoring the situation. It’s vital that the public has confidence in vehicle emissions tests and I am calling for the European Commission to investigate this issue as a matter of urgency.”

The best-case scenario, then, is that the reason the VW scandal blew up in America is because the EU testing process and regime is so much more rigorous that the software couldn’t make a difference here. The worst-case scenario is that ultra-thorough regulators in the US have picked up an issue that has passed the EU bodies by. The SMMT is technically correct in saying that no evidence of a more widespread problem has been found, but it’s a fast-developing situation and the digging has only just begun.

Does this explain why my car doesn’t match its official fuel economy figure?

If you’ve been listening to the radio or watching television, you could be forgiven for thinking that the VW scandal is the magic bullet that explains the age-old shortfall between the official fuel economy figures and what modern cars achieve in real-world use. In fact, the VW story is about the NOx particulate emissions that affect city-centre air quality, not CO2 emissions or fuel economy. All of the current noise about rethinking the EU emissions tests - including the industry saying that it has seeking agreement on a test that is more representative of real-world conditions - is actually old news and has little, if anything, to do with VW cheating in the American NOx test.

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nivison 26 September 2015

Wake up and smell the NOx people...

it's all diesels. Almost feeling sorry for VW at this point. All diesels including Euro6 it would appear, pump out many times more NOx in the real world than the "legal" bs manipulated (self) test limit. TfL recently released another report on roadside testing in London - every single diesel checked was pumping out (up to 15x) more NOx than manufacturers claim, but not one petrol was similarly lying..even a 60% reductions is not nearly enough to correct that. The weight of scientific evidence is overwhelming torque lovers, our crappy governments, lobbied by car makers have ignored warnings on NOx and particulates for years and allowed this to go on under the guise of reducing carbon dioxide. Well high CO2 isn't great for the planet but NOx and PM 2.5 will kill you if you suck in enough..can we cut the crap and just start ditching the derv ?
RPrior 23 September 2015

As a Petrolhead and Diesel Aficionado

I was driving my first diesel tractor in 1956. All my first cars were petrol. I rebuilt the engines of a few. AC Ace that is still running on the same set of main bearings today. Ford Falcon Ute that was one of the least mentionable in my car collection ............................................................................... Now to the so called scandal that has ripped VWs world apart.
All VW owners have benefited by their attempts to manipulate emissions testing. BUT VW Owners should understand that there is a major conflict of interest facing auto makers. The more efficient the Diesel engine, the greater the NOx levels. The cure is Water Injection (WI)to reduce combustion temperature AND/OR Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) that reduces Oxygen levels in the combustion chamber.
Both WI & EGR reduce the economy & power of the efficient diesel engine.

Conclusion:- What id good for the customer does not help emissions control. Which do you want. Actually it is theoretically possible to implement WI & EGR in urban driving and reduce NOx levels by 60%.

jer 23 September 2015

global warming fanatics

Is that what the global scientific community is called?