Major investigation shows new models from leading brands like VW, Vauxhall, and Fiat still emit well over latest pollution standards on the road
Dozens of the latest models of “Euro 6” diesel cars – newly approved for sale since the “dieselgate” scandal – are exceeding air pollution limits according to the manufacturers’ own tests, an Unearthed investigation has revealed.
The news comes as the UK car industry is touting the latest Euro 6 standard diesels as the “cleanest in history”, amid nosediving sales and government moves to discourage consumers from driving highly polluting diesel cars.
Since April 2016, new models approved for sale have had to go through a “real driving emissions” (RDE) test designed to check their emissions when driven in real traffic. But until September 2017 cars did not have to pass this test to be approved, as until then Euro 6 certification continued to be based on an old and discredited lab test.
Now, a major Unearthed investigation has revealed that throughout this “monitoring period” many of the biggest manufacturers continued to introduce brand new models with real driving emissions stats many times higher than the published Euro 6 limits. Most of those vehicles also lacked the latest technology for reducing emissions.
There is an urgent need to label cars more clearly, so people know what they are buying
The investigation reveals there are new Euro 6 diesel models that have only been in British showrooms for a few months that produce far more nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution on the road than would be allowed under today’s diesel emission standards, designed to finally reduce pollution.
At least 48 diesels tested during the monitoring period recorded on-road emissions that would have prohibited their sale if they had been put forward for approval after September last year.
There is no suggestion that any manufacturer failed to comply with the legal standards at the time the vehicles were approved.
The findings come in the week that judges gave German cities the power to ban diesels to tackle air pollution, and Rome’s mayor said diesel cars would be barred from its centre by 2024. In the UK, London breached a legal air pollution limit for the whole year by the end of January.
Mary Creagh MP, chair of the House of Commons environmental audit committee, told Unearthed: “People will be shocked to learn that there is still a gap between [laboratory] test results and real world driving emissions. Ministers should work with our EU partners to tackle this ongoing scandal.
“There is an urgent need to label cars more clearly, so people know what they are buying.”
Shadow transport secretary Andy McDonald said: “It is simply unacceptable that new diesel cars are still emitting such dangerous levels of nitrogen oxide in on-road tests. The government has failed to act since the dieselgate scandal in 2015.”