Road Safety News

New ‘real world’ tests still allow illegally polluting cars on roads - Greenpeace

Friday 15th September 2017

Image: © Will Rose / Greenpeace

New ‘real world’ emissions tests, prompted by the VW scandal, still fail to capture the actual impact diesel vehicles are having on air pollution in towns and cities, Greenpeace has suggested.

The environmental charity made the claim following independent testing of two new diesel vehicles on well-used London commuter routes during the morning and evening rush hours.

The results showed that both the new VW Golf and Vauxhall Insignia emitted more toxic nitrogen pollutants (NOx) than their own Real Driving Emissions (RDE), breaking the legal limit of 168mg/km.

In extreme cases, Greenpeace suggests NOx emissions on the most congested roads are up to 118% higher than levels detected in the official tests.

The stricter emissions testing, introduced earlier this month, sees new vehicles tested under both laboratory and open road conditions.

Greenpeace says its study shows that in stop-start traffic during rush hour, the two cars tested failed to meet the legal standard - pointing to potential flaws in the RDE test and loopholes that allow companies to test at any time of day, thereby avoiding rush hour altogether if they choose to.

Paul Morozzo, Greenpeace UK clean air campaigner, said: “The RDE tests should leave the auto industry no room to hide their cars’ real emissions but our investigation suggests this is not the case.

“These new tests are not ‘real’ enough to ensure the most polluting cars are kept off our roads. That car companies are allowed to avoid rush hour traffic when testing in urban areas is a major flaw.

“Instead of wasting more time and money hiding behind tests that still don’t reflect what’s happening in the real world, car companies should switch from diesel to electric and hybrid technology.

“Ministers cannot rest on their laurels either – these tests do not solve the problem of air pollution which makes a ban on new diesels long before 2040 even more crucial.”

Category: Vehicles & technology.



Comment on this story
Report a reader comment

What's your view - comment on this story:

I confirm that I have read and accept the moderation policy and house rules relating to comments posted on this website.
Your comment:
Your name and location:
Your email:

Not really convinced Pat, although your suggested link is as good as any. As it's concerned with pollution in towns and cities, urban limits can't go much lower anyway.

Perhaps pollution concerns might trigger a mass switch to electric vehicles sooner rather than later, which I think could reduce collisions, as I think they could induce a better style of driving.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (0) | Disagree (5)

Indirectly Hugh.

Demand to reduce exhaust emissions to improve air quality will introduce pressures to reduce speed limits. Pollution controls WILL be impacting on road safety policy sooner than you think. That's my 3 posts limit reached already.
Pat, Wales

Agree (7) | Disagree (2)

I believe that the CO2 emissions based car tax system was introduced in 2001. That is also the exact same time period that the mass introduction of the high pressure common rail diesel fuel injection system occurred. We have known for all that time that the standards were not a realistic measure of actual emissions, merely to be used as a relative comparison between vehicles - i.e benchmarking.

NOx emissions are of more interest these days than before and simply changing the testing regime from the current Euro 6 (cars) to Euro VI (trucks) would up the standard another notch immediately. But that's not likely soon.
Pat, Wales

Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

...and this is linked to road safety how?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (2)

Yes of course, and surely no-one should be surprised. Ever since I can remember, the official rolling-road mpg figures for non-turbo engines were very close to real-world, yet turbo engines got far better mpg that was generally impossible to get in the real world.

When the road tax changed to emissions (based on rolling-road mpg figures), what happened? Exactly as we'd expect, all cars got turbo engines. The problem was, though, the real-world emissions did not improve as a result. This may have been an "unintended consequence", but it's very much an obvious and predictable consequence.

Worse than that, the tax laws have promoted the scrapping of old cars and the production of new ones. Great for the economies of the countries we buy them from, but terrible for the environment and local repair businesses.

The heart of this problem (and a host of others) is that politicians seem not to understand evidence and, worse still, neither do their advisers!
dave finney

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)

I will take Greenpeace’s Mr Morozzo comments with a pinch of salt. The RDE tests were never intended to be a perfect solution. They are just another incremental improvement raising the bar a bit and shutting off some of the gaping holes in the testing regime they replaced. Of course much further improvement/tighter regulation /higher standards are required but consensus wasn’t built in a day despite the wails of the green brigade.
Pat, Wales

Agree (8) | Disagree (0)