The German government’s investigation into NOx emissions standards in the wake of the VW dieselgate crisis concluded that no other car maker had broken the law - but that 17 manufacturers had cars emitting so much more NOx in the real-world than is mandated for in the regulatory lab tests that it wants them to recall the cars and provide a fix.
For all that they took the brunt of the headlines last Friday, at least Audi, Mercedes, Opel, Porsche and Volkswagen took immediate action and heeded the request to instigate a voluntary recall to address the issues raised, albeit in the case of all but Opel-/Vauxhall only in their home market so far. Why the others are dragging their heels in taking action is a scandal in the making in itself.
What we keep hearing in defence from the accused 17 manufacturers is that they “meet all regulatory requirements”. Which is true. But NOx, lest we forget, kills people, which also makes that argument morally reprehensible at a time that the regulations have been exposed as being utterly, crassly ineffective.
So open is the loophole around being able to - legally - run a defeat device in order to protect parts from wear and tear that it renders the regulations laughable. In fact, there are are even strong but unconfirmed suggestions that even cars equipped with VW’s infamous cheat code meet all regulatory requirements, which probably tells you all you need to know about the regulations as they stand today, and have stood for decades.
The argument - pushed by the British government last week - that the new emissions regulations kick-starting in September 2017 will toughen up the laws and test practices is true. By 2019 Europe should have the toughest emissions laws in the world, but it cannot be acceptable to sit back and wait for that day to come.
The wave of negative headlines consuming the accused 17 and the industry as a whole are threatening to undermine the public’s trust to such a point that emissions figures may never be trusted again. What’s required is action now, and action that speaks less of meeting regulatory requirements and more of meeting moral ones.