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EU to make it difficult for automakers to cheat on emissions

Published 27 January 2017

The European Commission has presented guidance for member states to crack down on automakers violating diesel emissions regulations.

The guidance will help member states assess if car manufacturers use defeat devices or other strategies resulting in higher vehicle emissions outside of the test cycle and analyse whether they are technically justified.

The guidelines have been published in the wake of dieselgate scandal by Volkswagen in 2015.

Recently, the EU started taking legal action against Germany, Britain and five other nations for not complying with the law related to emissions defeat devices.

The European Commission noted that as per the EU law, defeat devices have been banned since 1998 and automakers are obligated to comply with this law.

The rules say that it is the responsibility of national authorities and their respective technical services to enforce this law.

The commission noted that it has already given important steps to improve emissions testing under real driving conditions, which is believed to reduce the chances of cheating.

Apart from this, as per a new law passed in 2016, automakers need to declare and get approval of their emissions reductions strategy before they can bring a car into the market.

The new law also focuses on putting an obligation on automakers to offer access to their emissions software protocol to respective national authorities.

As per EU, member-states are investigating automakers for emissions defeat devices or strategies and some states noted that some of these emissions devices or strategies are legal and justified as they are being claimed to be in place to protect the engine.

While other member-states argue that the new guidelines are vague and lack clarity on the ban and its exemptions.

The commission also noted that prior to Volkswagen’s dieselgate scandal, no member-state or automaker raised the issue of lack of clarity.

European Commission Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska said: "National investigations into the emissions scandal are revealing that a large number of car manufacturers use strategies that increase emissions outside of the test cycle.

“This is illegal unless technically justified in exceptional cases, and the burden of proof lies with the carmaker. Cheating cannot be tolerated. Today we are offering guidance to Member States on how to enforce the law better." 

As per the guidelines, a car manufacturer using emissions abatement strategies is required to justify questions like the increase of emissions kept at the lowest possible leve and is there no better technology or design on the market that would allow for improved emission control or safer operation of the engine.

Image: EU offers new guidelines for member-states on emissions and defeat devices. Photo: Courtesy of The European Commission.