Monday

19th Aug 2019

Diesel vans six times more polluting than EU norms

  • The Ford Transit is one of the most popular models on European roads (Photo: Mike Brocklebank)

Diesel vans may emit up to six times more toxic pollutants than is allowed under European limits, according to a report published on Thursday (19 May) by the Netherlands Organisation for applied scientific research, TNO.

The institute carried out tests in 2014. It was the first time that real-world emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) by vans were measured on the road instead of in the laboratory. The publication of the report followed a freedom of information request by Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The publication also included for the first time brand names of tested vans, legally known as light commercial vehicles.

They tested 10 vans in the Euro 5 category, from seven different brands, and one in the latest Euro 6 category.

“Overall it is observed that NOx emissions of Euro 5 light commercial vehicles as measured under real-world conditions in the lab or on the road are significantly higher than the values measured on the type approval test or the limit applicable to that test,” TNO wrote.

Before cars are allowed to drive on European roads, they need to acquire a so-called type approval.

Part of the approval process is emissions tests in laboratories, which entered the public spotlight last year when it emerged Volkswagen (VW) had cheated those tests on a grand scale.

VW had used so-called defeat devices, which allowed a car to recognize it was being tested, and switch to a more clean mode.

TNO has developed its own test, the Smart Emission Measurement System (SEMS).

“In on-road testing using SEMS, Euro 5 light commercial vehicles emitted on average five to six time more NOx than the Euro 5 limit value of 235 respectively 280 mg/km that is demanded on the type approval test.”

The tested Euro 5 vans were of the following types: Peugeot Expert; VW Caddy; Ford Transit; VW Transporter; Mercedes Sprinter; Mercedes Vito; Opel Vivaro; Renault Trafic, Iveco Daily; and Peugeot Boxer. The Euro 6 van, which came out of the test below the limit, was a Mercedes Sprinter.

The TNO researchers were cautious not to draw bold conclusions from the test results.

“The tests performed by TNO are not intended nor suitable for enforcement purposes and are not suitable for identifying or claiming fraud or other vehicle-related irregularities in a technically and legally watertight way,” it said, adding that the report has no basis for concluding that illegal defeat devices were used.

“For each make or model, only a single vehicle or a small number of vehicles are tested, which means that it cannot be ruled out that the results correlate to the specific condition of the tested vehicles.”

More testing would be needed to prove wrongdoing by specific car manufacturers, the report added.

However, the researchers did note the results “seem to indicate that the trend of a growing difference between type-approval and real-world emissions continues, at least up to Euro 5”.

The main conclusion, they write, is that “subsequent lowering of the type approval emission limits between Euro 1 and Euro 5 by a factor of 5 has not led to substantial reductions of the NOx emissions of diesel passenger cars and vans on the road”.

The report is yet another piece of evidence underpinning the need to shift to the so-called real driving emissions tests, which will be mandatory for EU cars as of September next year.

But even then, actual emissions may still be higher than those in the on-road test results.

The test drivers were “instructed to drive moderately ... unlike the typical observations of Dutch road users who often see speeding vans and aggressive driving with vans”.

Commercial vans, used for delivering goods, spend on average more times in cities, and therefore have potentially more damage to health than passenger cars.

One of the reports' authors, Richard Smokers, is due to appear in front of the European Parliament's inquiry committee into the diesel emissions scandal, next Tuesday (24 May).

Investigation

Dieselgate: Looking under the hood

EUobserver will closely follow the hearings and research done by the EU parliament's inquiry committee, as well as investigate aspects of the diesel emissions scandal not covered by the committee's mandate.

Investigation

Diesel scandal: 'Someone should bang his fist on the table'

A Czech engineer has urged authorities to investigate "conspicuous" results for years. "I believe the transport ministry has completely lost control of the activities of the test laboratories", he said.

Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'

Following an investigation into the Dieselgate scandal, the European Parliament recommended a single commissioner should be responsible for both air quality and setting industrial standards. But only the Greens want to commit to carry out that advice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. EU ends silence on Hong Kong protests
  2. Is Salvini closing just harbours or also the rule of law?
  3. No-deal Brexit would seriously harm UK, leaked paper says
  4. Selmayr did not keep formal records of lobby meetings
  5. EU asked to solve migrant rescue deadlock
  6. Internal EU paper: Second Brexit vote was no longer 'distant dream'
  7. EU has 'zero incentive' to break open 'trilogue' deals
  8. Denmark plans import ban on EU-approved pesticide

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us