The European Union doesn’t trust automakers anymore when it comes to testing for toxic emissions.
This is no surprise, after Volkswagen admitted last September that it had installed so-called “defeat devices” on its diesel vehicles purposely to get around emissions testing. These devices sensed when the vehicles were going through testing, and turned on controls that kept emissions in check. When the car returned to regular operation, some of those controls were turned off, increasing acceleration and fuel efficiency, but increasing emissions as well—some to levels above those allowed by law.
In response to the scandal, they European Commission has now proposed new laws to ensure compliance with environmental regulations.
European Commission Wants the Power to Recall Vehicles
According to the BBC, the new rules would require emissions testing to be performed by independent parties not connected to automakers. Currently, laboratories that test cars may be paid by auto manufacturers, creating a potential conflict of interest. Under proposed new rules, that would no longer be allowed.
The new laws would also allow for spot checks on the road, would apply stricture compliance regulations, and would give the Commission the power to order recalls on vehicles not in compliance. European Commission Vice President for Jobs, Growth, Investment, and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen stated that the rules needed to be tightened “to regain customers’ trust in this important industry.”
Currently, emissions testing is performed at the national level, and then deemed valid across Europe. The Commission wants the power to be able to impose fines on manufacturers when they violate the law, and to set up a series of spot checks anywhere on the road, in any nation, to make sure automobiles are performing as required.
Critics Say Europe Took Too Long to Act Against VW
It’s expected that because the new laws would give the Commission more power, they may face resistance at the national level. In essence, individual nations could see the move as taking away their sovereignty.
Yet critics say that Europe failed, as a whole, to expose what VW has been doing for years to circumvent emissions testing, leaving consumers to rely only on the automaker’s claims about the vehicles being environmentally friendly and fuel efficient at the same time.
Indeed, it wasn’t until the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) revealed that VW had violated state and federal vehicle emissions rules that Europe took action as well.
VW’s Plans for Repairs Rejected by CARB
Volkswagen now faces a number of lawsuits filed because of its deception. VW also must develop plans to repair all the vehicles affected by the emissions scandal. The company recently submitted repair plans to the CARB, but on January 12, 2016 those plans were rejected by CARB they contained gaps and lacked sufficient detail. In addition, according to CARB, the proposal didn’t address the overall impacts on vehicle performance.