The diesel emission scandal that has gripped Europe’s largest car maker, Volkswagen, may well spread to other global car majors. UK’s The Guardian newspaper said on Friday that diesel cars from Mercedes Benz, Honda, Mitsubishi and Mazda were also found to emit significantly more pollutants in the real world than in regulatory tests.
Volkswagen is in the dock for using a ‘defeat device’ that helped its diesel vehicles pass emissions tests by lowering emissions during tests. The scandal has put the spotlight firmly on diesel engines, and raised real-world versus test conditions.
“The new data is from Emissions Analytics’ on-the-road testing programme, which is carefully controlled and closely matches the real-world test the European commission wants to introduce. The company tested both Euro 6 models, the newest and strictest standard, and earlier Euro 5 models,” The Guardian’s report said.
Tests revealed that Mercedes-Benz’s diesel cars produced an average 2.2 times more NOx than the official Euro 5 level and five times higher than the Euro 6 level. Honda’s emissions were 2.6 to six times higher, Mazda’s between 1.6 and 3.6 times and Mitsubishi diesel cars 1.5 to 3.4 higher emissions than in the lab.
Citroen, VW and Audi cars also had significant deviations.
The companies reacted saying there would always be difference between tests done in a lab and on the road. Moreover, as a spokesman for Mitsubishi said, “The NEDC was never intended to represent real-world driving.”
Crucially, there was no evidence these companies used VW-like defeat devices.
Spokespersons for Mercedes Benz, Honda and Mitsubishi’s Indian operations said they had nothing to add to what their global counterparts had said.
“The VW issue in the US was purely the trigger which threw light on a slightly different problem in the EU — widespread legal over-emissions,” Nick Molden, who owns Emission Analytics told The Guardian. “For NOx, (diesel) cars are on average four times over the legal limit, because of the lenient nature of the test cycle in the EU.”
The scandal has put a question-mark on the viability of diesel technology, but local manufacturers said it would not impact demand in India.
“I don’t see any impact of what has happened with one particular company affecting diesel (car) sales in India. Diesel is a clean fuel. It continues to be a popular fuel in many parts of the world,” said Vinod Dasari, president, Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).