Automakers are still using cheat devices in dirty diesel engines – eight years after the Volkswagen scandal

Carmakers are still using cheaters in dirty diesel engines – eight years after a Volkswagen scandal in which engines produced less air pollution in tests

  • Eight years ago, Volkswagen was accused of using devices to cheat emissions
  • A new analysis indicates that emissions cheating devices are still widespread today

Major automakers were accused yesterday of breaking the law by continuing to sell diesel cars that produce illegal levels of air pollution – eight years after the “Dieselgate” scandal.

In 2015, Volkswagen was accused of outfitting vehicles with a “defeat device” that cheated on emissions by making engines produce less nitrogen dioxide during tests.

The company has since paid out around $3 billion (£2.45 billion) in the US to compensate drivers who bought their cars.

But new analysis by the group that originally uncovered Dieselgate indicates that the use of emissions cheats is still widespread.


“Dieselgate” began in 2015 when Volkswagen was notified of a violation of the Clean Air Act

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) said more than 200 models at nearly all major manufacturers emit emissions so high they should use an illegal defeat device in testing.

It found “suspicious” levels of nitrogen dioxide emissions in 77 per cent of vehicles built since 2015, and claims that 2.4 million diesel cars in the UK are emitting levels far above what they should be.

The revelations about the original Dieselgate came as successive governments encouraged a “diesel rush” that began in 2001.

Diesel cars attracted lower tax rates as they were seen as “green” because they produced less carbon dioxide than gasoline-powered vehicles. But the dirty secret is that they produce more nitrogen dioxide, which worsens air pollution.

Automakers accept that vehicles have an emissions reduction program, and they insist this is to protect the engine during testing.

Environmental law charity ClientEarth is calling on manufacturers to pay for recalls to fix polluting diesel vehicles.

ClientEarth attorney Katie Nield said it was “incredible”, so little had changed since Dieselgate.

She added: ‘We are sending legal complaints to three governments (UK, France and Germany) to demand that Dieselgate’s sordid legacy be addressed once and for all.

This was a betrayal of consumer and public confidence and the authorities cannot continue to let manufacturers off the hook.

The excessive emissions caused by these banned devices not only add to the harm suffered by people who breathe the toxic air, but also add to the burden on the NHS.

So it is only right that automakers help fund more measures to reduce pollution.

Despite the industry-wide reforms, evidence suggests that some (other) manufacturers are still using the devices

Despite the industry-wide reforms, evidence suggests that some (other) manufacturers are still using the devices

Both Volkswagen and Ford have said their vehicles comply with all emissions limits and do not contain “disallowed” or “prohibited” defeat devices.

The Department of Transportation said it has “significantly increased oversight” of testing and is “exploring stronger powers, including the ability to recall vehicles for environmental reasons.”

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