Cantillon: VW may not be the only cheats in the car showroom

Renault in the merde over NOx levels, and FiatChrysler charged over concealed software

French experts found high levels of potentially harmful Nitrogen oxide (NOx) from several carmakers, including Renault. Photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

French experts found high levels of potentially harmful Nitrogen oxide (NOx) from several carmakers, including Renault. Photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters

 

As many predicted, it seems the Volkswagen emissions scandal may not be an isolated incident. On Friday French prosecutors announced they are investigating Renault over suspected “cheating” in emissions tests. Prosecutors said that French experts found high levels of potentially harmful Nitrogen oxide (NOx) from several carmakers, including Renault.

On Thursday the US Environmental Protection Agency charged Fiat Chrysler with having hidden software installed on more than 100,000 Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Ram vehicles in the US.

Last year Germany’s transport ministry complained to the European Commission after it claimed Fiat was stonewalling its investigation into allegations that some models were also equipped with software designed to mislead official test procedures.

Earlier this week in the US Volkswagen pleaded guilty to three charges related to defeat devices it fitted to 11 million cars worldwide. The German car giant will pay $4.3 million in fines. However, the guilty plea doesn’t stop the criminal pursuit of individual executives for their involvement. The US justice department already charged six Volkswagen executives deemed responsible for the conspiracy. More arrests cannot be ruled out. Meanwhile, consumers and investors are also pursuing civil actions against the firm, which has already paid out over $20 billion to date on the back of the scandal.

Misleading test results

Whatever the outcome of the latest investigations, there are already clear lessons to be learned. First, the current test regime isn’t fit for purpose and proposed changes need to take account of the potential for software programmes to influence test results. Secondly, Europe needs to pay more attention to NOx emissions. While US regulators imposed strict limits on these emissions, their European counterparts were more focused on carbon emissions. Only since the VW scandal broke has there been a great focus on the potential harm of NOx from diesel engines. As a result several regional legislators across Europe are proposing bans on diesel engines in city centres in the future.

Finally, if any of these investigations mean that official emissions and fuel economy figures for the cars in question are wrong, then tax authorities have a right to demand proper recompense, and owners deserve compensation.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.