Air Clean Up

  • How Many Dieselgate Cars Are Still on the Road?

How Many Dieselgate Cars Are Still on the Road?

Jun 12 2019 Read 247 Times

Over three-quarters of vehicles implicated in the Dieselgate scandal of 2015 remain on European roads, according to an independent analysis of official EU data. At the time of the controversy, 43 million cars were named as being uncompliant with EU regulations in terms of the amount of contaminants they emitted. At present, 33 million of them are still in action.

The sluggish pace of addressing the problem has been put down to bureaucratic obstacles and the absence of firm legislation forcing member states to act. At present, individual governments are responsible for compelling their populace to update the old systems to be compliant with international regulations, but these responsibilities are not being fulfilled in several countries across the bloc.

A worldwide scandal

The story of Dieselgate first broke four years ago, when German automobile manufacturer Volkswagen were found to have broken the rules with regard to the emissions on their vehicles. The cars were being programmed to recognise when they were being driven under test conditions from such parameters as speed, acceleration and braking and release fewer emissions in those circumstances.

By disarming or reducing the ability of a car to clean up its emissions in real-world conditions, the VW cars in question were responsible for releasing three times the legal limit of contaminants such as nitrogen dioxide. While recent statistics show that Western European countries have since recalled 83% of those contaminating vehicles, Eastern European nations have been more less effective in doing so, with only 55% recalled. Overall, however, a mere 10 million of the original 43 million have been treated, given that the percentages referred to above only involve the cheapest and least effective form of diesel fixes.

Stumbling blocks

One of the biggest problems facing the EU when trying to tackle this problem is the fragmented nature of the bloc it oversees. When a car was manufactured in one country, approved in another, marketed in a third and then sold in a fourth, keeping track of the paper trail and enforcing the necessary updates can be easier said than done. The fact that there has been a mass migration of vehicles from West to East (350,000 Dieselgate cars moved to Poland in 2017 alone) is testament to the problems facing the authorities.

“The EU single market fails when it comes to car emissions,” explained Florent Grelier, speaking on behalf of the company which carried out the analysis. “It only works for selling cars, but not for recalling them when things go wrong. There must not be any second-class citizens in Europe. Every European has an equal right to clean air.” Of course, the long-term solution to address pollution from vehicular emissions is a transition to environmentally-friendly forms of road transportation, but cleaning up the performance of the cars already on our roads is a much-needed step in the right direction.

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