Ger­many to set up new in­sti­tute to test ve­hi­cle emis­sions

The Star Early Edition - - INTERNATIONAL - Markus Wacket

GER­MANY will set up a new or­gan­i­sa­tion to test ve­hi­cle emis­sions, to try to re­store con­sumer con­fi­dence after Volk­swa­gen’s emis­sions scan­dal re­vealed an in­dus­try-wide pol­lu­tion prob­lem, the trans­port min­istry said yes­ter­day.

The min­istry said the new in­sti­tute would in­volve con­sumer or­gan­i­sa­tions, lo­cal gov­ern­ments and en­vi­ron­men­tal groups, as well as the auto in­dus­try and min­istries, to en­sure “more trans­parency and re­li­a­bil­ity” in ve­hi­cle tests.

How­ever, the KBA mo­tor ve­hi­cle au­thor­ity, which re­ports to the trans­port min­istry and cur­rently over­sees ve­hi­cle test­ing, will re­main re­spon­si­ble for li­cens­ing new mod­els.

Since Volk­swa­gen ad­mit­ted to cheat­ing US diesel-emis­sions tests in Septem­ber 2015, the German gov­ern­ment has come un­der fire for not do­ing enough to crack down on ve­hi­cle pol­lu­tion and for be­ing too close to the pow­er­ful car in­dus­try.

The min­istry said the new in­sti­tute would test about 70 car mod­els a year us­ing re­al­is­tic driv­ing sce­nar­ios, rather than re­ly­ing solely on lab­o­ra­tory con­di­tions, and the emis­sions and fuel con­sump­tion re­sults would be made public to en­able car buy­ers to make bet­ter com­par­isons.

It noted that cur­rent of­fi­cial tests do not take into ac­count fac­tors such as the use of air-con­di­tion­ing and ra­dio, or the weather or style of driv­ing, which all in­flu­ence fuel con­sump­tion.

Ger­many’s VDA auto in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion said in a state­ment its mem­bers were keen to give cus­tomers more in­for­ma­tion about vari­ance in fuel ef­fi­ciency and would fully par­tic­i­pate in the new in­sti­tute in the in­ter­ests of trans­parency.

On Mon­day, Reuters re­ported the trans­port min­istry was push­ing car-mak­ers to up­date engine man­age­ment soft­ware to cut pol­lu­tion in up to 12 mil­lion diesel ve­hi­cles in the coun­try, cit­ing peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the talks.

HSBC an­a­lysts said es­ti­mates for the cost of retrofitting cars var­ied widely, but could reach as much as €10 bil­lion (R146bn).

“The theme re­mains highly rel­e­vant and cre­ates un­cer­tainty that we be­lieve con­trib­utes to the on­go­ing de-rat­ing of the sec­tor,” they wrote in a note, re­fer­ring to pres­sure on car-mak­ers’ shares.

In the af­ter­math of the Volk­swa­gen scan­dal, the trans­port min­istry ordered tests on the car­bon diox­ide emis­sions of 29 mod­els. Yes­ter­day, it said 17 passed the test, while 10 mod­els still needed to be tested.

How­ever, some ver­sions of an Opel Zafira and a Smart For Two produced by Daim­ler produced more car­bon diox­ide than they should, al­though the Smart model needed to un­dergo fur­ther tests. Both ver­sions of the mod­els in ques­tion are now dis­con­tin­ued.

Zafira diesels al­ready on the road will have to un­dergo a soft­ware up­date, the min­istry said, al­though the li­cences for both ve­hi­cles will not be with­drawn. – Reuters

PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Klaus Bischoff, the head of de­sign at Volk­swa­gen, ad­dresses jour­nal­ists dur­ing a press day for the new Ar­teon car in Han­nover, Ger­many, last month.

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