U.S. and Canadian regulators are significantly expanding their on-the-road emissions tests to cover all makes and models of diesel cars.
Concerned that cheating on vehicle emissions could be prevalent across the automobile industry, regulators in the United States and Canada are significantly expanding their on-the-road emissions tests to cover all makes and models of diesel cars.
The tests, which come in the wake of Volkswagen’s admission that it installed software on more than 11 million cars to evade emissions standards, are being conducted randomly and in real-world conditions, rather than in traditional laboratory settings, to increase the odds of catching cheaters.
“We are very anxious to find out if there are any other programs out there,” said Christopher Grundler, director of the office of transportation and air quality at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The first tests on brands manufactured by Volkswagen, completed last week, found the cheating software on about 10,000 VW, Audi and Porsche models not previously disclosed by the German manufacturer. Volkswagen disputes the EPA’s claim, saying the software was not intended to thwart emissions testing.
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Since then, no other automobile company has been found to have installed so-called defeat software, although it will take several weeks for all makes and models to be tested.
Grundler declined to describe the tests, except to say they will focus on 2015 and 2016 model-year diesel cars. They will also be performed on all new cars that manufacturers seek to certify, he said.
The move by the EPA is a significant expansion of its testing regimen, which previously did road testing for pollutants mainly on large trucks. It also makes road-test spot checks of older cars to ensure that their pollution-control mechanisms are still effective. Tests are also being performed alongside regulators in Canada and California.
But the VW scandal has highlighted deficiencies in existing lab tests in North America and in Europe.
The new and more unpredictable testing represents a sea change from the traditional, highly controlled lab setting where vehicles are put on a treadmill, wired up with sensors and run through a standardized and familiar routine.
The road-testing regimen could dim the future for diesels, which have higher pollution emissions, making electric and hybrid vehicles more attractive in terms of their environmental impact.
U.S. regulators believe that road testing is relatively crude and cannot match the precision of lab results at detecting nitrogen oxide and other fine particles and pollutants. Rather, the aim of their road tests is to help validate lab findings by catching cars whose road performance reveals higher emission readings.
Whistleblower was responsible at VW
FRANKFURT, Germany — Volkswagen’s recent disclosure that it reported false fuel-economy and carbon-dioxide readings to European regulators was prompted by an internal whistleblower, the company said Sunday.
Volkswagen admitted last Tuesday that it had underreported carbon-dioxide emissions on 800,000 diesel- and gasoline-powered cars in Europe.
That disclosure added to the automaker’s credibility problems, which began in September when it admitted that it had installed software on millions of its diesel cars in recent years to enable them to cheat on air-pollution tests.
In trying to determine who was responsible for the diesel cheating scandal, Volkswagen’s internal investigators have reportedly been hampered by an ingrained fear of delivering bad news to superiors.
But Volkswagen on Sunday broadly confirmed a report in a German newspaper that an engineer at the company had volunteered information about how employees had manipulated tests for carbon-dioxide emissions and fuel economy.