The Mail on Sunday

It’s not just VW

Official tester tells MoS: 4 more diesel car giants break toxic emissions limit

- By Ben Ellery

FOUR major car manufactur­ers were dragged into the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal last night after Government-funded research revealed that their engines are emitting toxic fumes at up to seven times the legal limit.

British researcher­s tested hundreds of new diesel cars on UK roads and found that popular brands including BMW, Ford, Mazda and Mercedes, as well as Volkswagen and Audi, all emitted levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx) far higher than the limits required to pass European tests.

Last night, the researcher­s said the huge discrepanc­y between realworld diesel emissions and the legal limits set by the European Commission was ‘extremely concerning’ – and suggested that Volkswagen was not alone in finding ways to pass laboratory tests.

Dr James Tate, lecturer and researcher at the Institute for Transport Studies at Leeds University, said: ‘The surprising finding for us was that even the Volkswagen engines were polluting 35 per cent less than other comparable cars, suggesting all manufactur­ers have found their own ways of passing the laboratory tests.

‘We found small city diesel cars are emitting more than double-decker buses or fully laden 40-ton articulate­d lorries. This is big business for them [car manufactur­ers]. It lets them sell tax-friendly, powerful luxury cars with supposedly low emission levels and make higher profits.’

Dr Tate, whose work is funded by the Department for Environmen­t, Food & Rural Affairs and local councils, has been monitoring diesel emissions on Britain’s roads for five years and has recorded more than one million cars.

His latest research looked at the new Euro Six category diesel engines – which were introduced in September last year. He measured 300 of the newest diesel cars at six locations in England and Scotland over 20 days during the summer.

He found that on average, none of the manufactur­ers met the Euro Six regulation­s that state the engines must not produce more than 0.08 grams of NOx per kilometre.

Mazda’s engines emitted the most on average (0.49 grams per km) – 6.1 times the Euro limit. One of its vehicles was found to discharge 1.1 grams per km – 13.75 times the limit. Mazda was bettered by BMW (0.45 grams), Mercedes (0.42 grams), Volkswagen (0.41 grams) and Audi (0.36 grams).

Dr Tate found that Ford’s new diesel engines emitted more NOx on average than all the other manufac- turers tested, but in this case Dr Tate said more cars needed to be tested from the manufactur­er due to a small sample size.

He also looked at Volkswagen’s EA189 engine – which the company was forced to admit last month had been fitted with ‘defeat devices’ that could sense when they were being tested in laboratory conditions and were programmed to emit less NOx. Volkswagen’s offending cars released 4.2 times the EU limit but other cars were worse – emitting 5.8 times the official standard.

Dr Tate said: ‘This research shows that building cars so they perform well in laboratory emissions tests but emit high amounts of NOx in real urban driving is an endemic practice across the industry. There is very little known about how the manufactur­ers conduct their tests because they take place behind closed doors.

‘What our tests do for the first time is show how much toxic fumes are really being emitted on British roads, and we have done that with a large sample size to give a much more accurate picture of the true scale of the problem.’

Rather than laboratory tests that don’t test cars on gradients or on corners, Dr Tate says testing cars in ‘real-world’ conditions gives a more accurate picture. Testers used a Remote Sensing Device to record exhaust emissions as vehicles drove by on public roads. The tests are tightly controlled and widely used across the United States to monitor compliance of f clean air rules.

The car’s number-plates ates were recorded and crossrefer­enced with the DVLA so researcher­s could see the make, model and engine size for each car. It is believed to be the most comprehens­ive picture yet of diesel fumes on Britain’s roads.

Greg Archer, of pressure group Transport and Environmen­t, said: ‘These results show new diesel cars are not clean and VW’s cheating is the tip of the iceberg. Cars in Europe must be as clean and efficient on the road as they are in the laboratory. Europe’s paper tiger regulators must ensure that they are in the future.’ When contacted for comment, the manufactur­ers insisted that their engines met EU regulation­s and they did not cheat on tests.

A Government spokesman said: ‘We have been open about the difference between real-world and laboratory testing for diesel cars. We have been pushing at a European level for real driving emissions testing to ensure tests reflect vehicles’ actual performanc­e on the road.’

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