How 13 million highly polluting diesel cars are still being driven in EU

Many highly polluting diesel vehicles sold from 2009 to 2019 remain on the roads

Eddie Cunningham

Remember “Dieselgate”? Well, it hasn’t really gone away, you know.

Back in 2015, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) found that many diesel cars were emitting far more harmful nitrogen oxides (Nox) on the road than was being reported in official testing.

The scandal was sensational in that it discovered “cheat devices” on cars that allowed automakers to switch to more benign levels of pollution in their vehicles when it came to official testing.

When that was over the cars returned to higher levels of harmful emissions.

It led to a far more rigorous test being introduced across the EU (in 2019).

And there is no doubt that it speeded up the global drive towards pollution-free electric cars.

It is acknowledged that it would have taken much longer to get to the current level of EV production without the shock to the system.

And, it must be said, new diesels of today are light years ahead on emissions as a result.

But the overhang of the 2015 scandal is still with us, if not so prominently reported on.

New findings by the same non-profit research group – Council on Clean Transportation – that lifted the lid on Dieselgate, provide a stark reminder of how long it is going to take to wash the dirtier diesels out of the system.

It is reporting that as many as thirteen million diesel cars producing “extreme” levels of toxic air pollution are still on the roads across the EU.

Based on extensive new testing evidence, the ICCT says that many highly polluting diesel vehicles sold from 2009 to 2019 remain on the roads.

It also says that a further 6m diesels have “suspicious” levels of emissions.