Thursday

24th Aug 2017

Investigation

Fiat questions 'fantastical' EU emissions tests

  • FCA's diesel cars are 'absolutely state of the art', said its chief technology officer (Photo: Fiat)

A representative of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) has questioned the methods of national governments who reported that FCA diesel cars were emitting far beyond EU limits when driving on the road.

“I have no explanation for these values. These values should not occur,” Harald Wester, FCA's chief technical officer, told MEPs at a hearing in Brussels on Monday (17 October).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • FCA's Harald Wester told MEPs its diesel cars are “absolutely state of the art”. (Photo: European Parliament)

He said some of the emission values reported by national authorities were “fantastical”.

He also said his opinions were based on a first-glance reading.

“I have no information about the test, about the conditions, about the state of the cars,” he told the MEPs.

Fiat has come under scrutiny as part of the Dieselgate affair.

Germany’s Volkswagen Group first admitted to having used cheating software in diesel cars in September 2015.

That prompted several EU states to test what cars emit on the road instead of in the 20-minute laboratory tests that cars normally undergo before they get their EU-wide approval.

Defeat device or not?

The German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) has said a Fiat model had used an illegal defeat device which kicked into effect after 22 minutes - something which its Italian counterpart has denied. FCA is an Italian-American company.

The European Commission has been asked to mediate between the Germans and the Italians, and Wester told MEPs on the Dieselgate inquiry committee on Monday that he could not comment before the “mediation process” was finished.

But he did say that “our vehicles are definitely not bad performers”, adding that FCA's diesel cars are “absolutely state of the art”.

Despite his comments several government reports noted that the nitrogen oxides emission level of FCA models, like those of many other car producers, was much higher than the EU limits when driving them in the real world, instead of during the predefined 20-minute lab test.

Last April, the German transport ministry said in a report a Fiat Ducato model emitted four times the EU threshold during a real-world test when it was between 13C and 17C outdoors. During a test when outside temperature had dropped to 10C, the value was nine times as high.

An Alfa Romeo Giulietta emitted 7.8 times higher at 7C-8C.

The Italian transport ministry - whose report has not yet been officially published but was seen by EUobserver - also said several Fiat models were emitting more than twice the legal limit.

On Friday (14 October), the Netherlands Vehicle Authority published a report which noted that another FCA model, the Jeep Grand Cherokee van, was emitting between 6.9 and 12.2 times above the limit.

“I am not a philosopher, I'm an engineer. I need to know more about what has been done under which conditions, see all the parameters and then I can make a final judgement,” said Wester on Monday.

He added that the Jeep Cherokee tested had around 150,000 kilometres of driving on the odometer, implying that that would discredit the result.

It had 149,447 kilometres on the clock when the Dutch started testing, but this is still below the 160,000 kilometres during which the legislation required the emissions filter to be active.

The FCA official visibly annoyed several of the MEPs by dodging questions.

Dutch Liberal MEP Gerben-Jan Gerbrandy, who will be one of the co-writers of the inquiry committee's report, asked Wester if the company knew how much more nitrogen oxide was being emitted by its cars, which modulate the emissions filter system after 22 minutes.

“More, but still in the limits,” said Wester.

Gerbrandy: “Which limits?”

Wester: “The legal limits.”

Gerbrandy reminded Wester that, according to the FCA's legal analysis, only the 20-minute lab test matters, “so there is no legal limit after 20 minutes”.

“I don't know. I think I answered all your questions,” Wester said.

He made several MEPs chuckle by saying that he believed the car industry in general did not tune cars to pass the test.

“Everybody sticks to the rules,” Fiat’s Wester said.

Trying to hide

The most active Italian member of the committee, Eleonora Evi, told EUobserver after the hearing that she saw a “car manufacturer that is trying to hide its responsibility”.

“I'm quite angry,” said Evi, who is a member of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement party, and who sits with the eurosceptic Ukip group in the EU parliament.

She said FCA's answers were “too vague”, and that the company has been trying to “confuse” the MEPs.

“We have also a lot of good things to show,” said Evi about Italian industrial capability. “But today hasn't been a nice showing of that Italian know-how. This has been awful,” she said.

Unpublished report: Italy's Fiat had high emissions

An Italian report triggered by the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal finds Fiat cars emitting more than double the EU limit. The report was finished in July, but has not been made public.

News in Brief

  1. Air Berlin insolvency talks begin amid 'stitch-up' accusation
  2. EU calls on Serbia and Macedonia to remain calm
  3. Schulz wants US to remove nuclear weapons from Germany
  4. Ukraine and Russia to announce another ceasefire
  5. EU to investigate Monsanto-Bayer merger
  6. US will ask Nato allies to send more troops into Afghanistan
  7. Greece to be absent at event on Communism and Nazism
  8. Czechs want observer status in Eurogroup meetings

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressEuropean Governments Must Take Stronger Action Against Terrorism
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceDoes Genetics Explain Why So Few of Us Have an Ideal Cardiovascular Health?
  3. EU2017EEFuture-Themed Digital Painting Competition Welcomes Artists - Deadline 31 Aug
  4. ACCABusinesses Must Grip Ethics and Trust in the Digital Age
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Welcomes European Court of Justice's Decision to Keep Hamas on Terror List
  6. UNICEFReport: Children on the Move From Africa Do Not First Aim to Go to Europe
  7. Centre Maurits CoppietersWe Need Democratic and Transparent Free Trade Agreements Says MEP Jordi Solé
  8. Counter BalanceOut for Summer, Ep. 2: EIB Promoting Development in Egypt - At What Cost?
  9. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  10. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  11. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  12. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ECPAFood Waste in the Field Can Double Without Crop Protection. #WithOrWithout #Pesticides
  2. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  3. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  4. Martens CentreWeeding Out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  5. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  6. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Ep. 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  7. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  8. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way
  9. European Friends of ArmeniaEuFoA Director and MEPs Comment on the Recent Conflict Escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
  10. EU2017EEEstonian Presidency Kicks off Youth Programme With Coding Summer School
  11. EPSUEP Support for Corporate Tax Transparency Principle Unlikely to Pass Reality Check
  12. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament Improves the External Investment Plan but Significant Challenges Ahead