Tide turn­ing against toxic diesels

The Witness - Wheels - - FRONT PAGE - ALWYN VILJOEN

THE end of diesel is nigh — al­though this end will take a bit longer to come to pass in SA.

With sev­eral cities around the world al­ready phas­ing in a to­tal ban on diesel ve­hi­cles and Wheels last week re­port­ing that diesel en­gines are up to 50% dirt­ier in the real world than even the most cyn­i­cal lab­o­ra­tory tester pre­dicted, more ev­i­dence is com­ing in of diesel cheats.

This af­ter the U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency last week an­nounced they have un­cov­ered at least eight se­cret fea­tures in the com­put­ers of Fiat-Chrysler ve­hi­cles that ba­si­cally turn off the cars’ emis­sion-con­trol sys­tems af­ter they pass govern­ment tests. Nearly 104 000 diesel cars — all Ram 1500s and Jeep Grand Chero­kees from model years 2014, 2015, and 2016 — were sold with “defeat-de­vice” soft­ware in the U.S. Volk­swa­gen, by com­par­i­son, sold 482 000 cars equipped with emis­sions cheat­ing defeat de­vices in the U.S. The U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice is con­se­quently su­ing the Fiat Chrysler com­pany for vi­o­lat­ing the Clean Air Act.

The soft­ware in the Fi­atChrysler ve­hi­cles al­low the cars to “meet emis­sion stan­dards in the lab and dur­ing stan­dard EPA test­ing,” but then pro­ceed to emit lev­els of nox­ious ni­tro­gen ox­ide pol­lu­tion “much higher than the EPA-com­pli­ant level” once on the road, the EPA said in a press re­lease.

In Ger­many, Fiat-Chrysler has al­ready been ac­cused of tim­ing cars to emit test-pass­ing lev­els of emis­sions for ex­actly 22 min­utes — just two min­utes longer than the German cer­ti­fi­ca­tion test lasts — be­fore shut­ting off emis­sions con­trols and re­vert­ing to il­le­gal emis­sions.

The tide against toxin-spew­ing diesel en­gines will also im­pact in SA, where our to­tal ve­hi­cle sales last year reached 0,68% of global sales. Ini­tially, this will see diesel mod­els dumped here, but as the world moves on to electrics, so will we on Africa’s south­ern tip.

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