Emissions testing—keeping it clean

Emissions testing—keeping it clean

Following recent scandals in which car companies were found to be cheating regulated emissions tests and thousands of cars had to be recalled over their illegal polluting effects, the European Union has announced all new cars must pass stricter emissions tests from 1 September 2017. Gregory Jones QC, silk at Francis Taylor Building, analyses the likely effectiveness of the new EU car emissions test standards.

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What is the background leading up to introduction of the new emissions tests?

Heralded by the European Commission as ‘a milestone in our ongoing work for cleaner and more sustainable cars’, new regulations for car emission testing became mandatory across the EU on 1 September 2017. They are designed to more closely reflect fuel economy and emissions when actually driving and include an additional so-called ‘real-world driving emissions’ (RDE) test to detect regulated pollutant emissions. The RDE is to be carried out on the road using a portable emissions measurement system to record emissions.

The European Council says this ‘fundamental’ overhaul of the existing type of approval system was already in the EU’s work programme before the Volkswagen (VW) emissions scandal, in which VW exploited loopholes in the laboratory testing procedures, hit the headlines in 2015. The Council points out that Commission proposals to correct these shortcomings by measuring emissions in real driving conditions had already been published before the emissions scandal emerged in September 2015. But others have claimed that the European Commission had been warned by its own experts that a car maker was suspected of cheating

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