Thursday 27 October 2016

Volkswagen scam buster warns how a similar case could be on cards in EU

Lax laws make it more likely here, he tells Motors

Published 09/12/2015 | 02:30

The Volkswagen logo sits atop the company's headquarters in Wolfsburg.
The Volkswagen logo sits atop the company's headquarters in Wolfsburg.
John German

We could have another Volkswagen-type scandal in Europe, according to the man who exposed the US emissions cheating saga.

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The stark prediction was made in an interview with Independent Motors by John German (pictured), who with Peter Mock, discovered how Volkswagen software gave false emission readings when diesel cars were being tested in the US.

In an exclusive interview, he now says there is a real possibility of another case of 'cheating' being discovered in Europe because regulations here are so lax compared with the US.

He also warns that software is becoming even more sophisticated and that detecting devices "will get more difficult". He qualifies this by saying those trying it would have to be caught out eventually by results being measured "in the real world".

In wide-ranging responses to our questions, Mr German said: "I'd be amazed if anyone else in the US is stupid enough to be using a defeat device."

However, he adds: "Europe is different."

He says: "We don't know yet if other manufacturers are also using defeat devices, but given the very high real-world NOx emissions from some diesel cars, it is possible."

He insists that effective enforcement is urgently needed both in Europe and globally.

Mr German says far better test procedures and a "clear legal authority to issue fines and recalls if the legislation is not being met" are required.

It is vital, he says, that governments set up their own independent testing facilities to sample a selection of cars to ensure they do what they claim.

This could be too expensive an undertaking for the Irish Government to establish and maintain and we would most likely have to rely on findings elsewhere.

Mr German underscores his concerns on the stringency of testing by saying the biggest problem in Europe is that regulatory standards are set by the EU but enforcement is at a national level. "This leads to a situation where no agency has legal authority to do enforcement. It's a political problem."

He outlines how China - now one of the biggest world markets for car sales - issued a new environmental law a few months ago.

It "established clear legal authority for effective enforcement, something that Europe has not been able to do".

Mr German is the co-lead of the International Council on Clean Transportation and his research helped uncover the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

He also believes the impact of harmful emissions such as NOx have not been sufficiently highlighted. "I do think the health impacts of the excessive diesel NOx have not gotten enough attention."

And he revealed that in addition to emissions, his team is also working on on-board diagnostic systems to help keep vehicles operating properly in the real world.

But he keeps returning to the issue of Europe and its regulations.

His big wish for action next year is "for someone in Europe to establish an effective recall program. Many countries around the world adopt European requirements, so what Europe does has impacts that go beyond Europe."

Indo Motoring

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