EU parliament says governments delayed new rules on car emissions

Tue Feb 28, 2017 11:28am EST
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By Julia Fioretti and Waverly Colville

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European governments delayed stricter car engine emissions tests by six years and did not do enough to uncover cheating by car manufacturers, a European Parliament report into the dieselgate scandal said on Tuesday.

The investigation into Volkswagen's (VOWG_p.DE: Quote) emissions test cheating also blamed the European Commission for failing to scrutinize governments' legal obligation to enforce a ban on so-called defeat devices, which can scale back car exhaust pollution under certain driving conditions.

"We now have a crystal-clear understanding of the failures in the oversight of the car industry that made dieselgate possible: the fraud could have been prevented," said Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, a Dutch lawmaker who helped draft the report.

It called for a drastic strengthening of market surveillance to break the cosy relationship between regulators who test emissions and car manufacturers, including new EU-level tests that could lead to fines.

Lawmakers said delays to the introduction of more realistic emissions tests came about due to politicians caving in to lobbying from the car industry and seeking to avoid burdening manufacturers after the 2008 financial crisis.

The non-binding report named France, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia, Spain and Romania as the main culprits blocking the adoption of more realistic emissions testing on roads, leading to a six-year delay.

VW admitted in September 2015 to using defeat devices to confound nitrogen oxide (NOx) tests in the United States, prompting several European governments to launch their own investigations.

They revealed that actual NOx emissions by cars on the road were as much as 15 times above regulatory limits and the use of defeat devices was widespread.   Continued...

The exhaust system of a Volkswagen Passat TDI diesel car is seen in Esquibien, France, September 23, 2015.  REUTERS/Mal Langsdon