Only a quarter of diesel pollution recalls have been completed

Pressure group says Ireland lagging behind when it comes to cleaning up diesels

Florent Grelier, clean vehicles engineer at T&E, said: “The industry has had four years since the diesel scandal broke but has failed to deliver even on its own commitments to fix manipulated cars”

Florent Grelier, clean vehicles engineer at T&E, said: “The industry has had four years since the diesel scandal broke but has failed to deliver even on its own commitments to fix manipulated cars”

 

Out of the estimated 43 million diesel-engined cars recalled under pressure from European authorities to clean up their emissions, only 10 million have been brought back in for remedial work. That is the claim made by Transport & Environment (T&E), an environmental think-tank and pressure group, which regularly lobbies Brussels and national governments on emissions.

Florent Grelier, clean vehicles engineer at T&E, said: “The current snail’s pace to clean up diesel cars across Europe is unacceptable. The industry has had four years since the diesel scandal broke but has failed to deliver even on its own commitments to fix manipulated cars. It’s time for governments to get tough and order mandatory recalls across the EU. This does not require any new laws but just political will.”

T&E’s research, based on numbers submitted by national type-approval authorities, show that Ireland is lagging behind many of the major European nations when it comes to completing the recalls. The numbers show that when it comes to Volkswagen’s EA189 diesel engines (the 1.6 and 2.0-litre engines at the heart of the diesel emissions scandal) Germany has completed 99 per cent of its recalls, and 70 per cent for those involving other engines and other manufacturers. For Finland, it’s 95 per cent, Austria is on 86 per cent, as is Portugal, while Denmark is on 85 per cent.

Ireland lagging behind

Ireland has completed only 70 per cent of its recalls for the EA189 engines, and has not submitted any data at all on other engines and car makers. The worst-performing nation is Romania, which has completed only 37 per cent of its recalls.

Ireland’s lack of extra data is especially frustrating as it was the European authority that cleared a large number of BMW models as fit-for-sale, and many questions have been raised over whether the Munich-based car maker was also cheating on its emissions figures. Indeed, BMW’s recent declaration of a loss from its car making operations was largely down to it having to set aside €1.6 billion to deal with potential fines from an EU investigation into cartel-like practices among the major European car brands when it came to ‘working’ the official emissions testing system.

The number of incomplete recalls is a disaster for public health, according to T&E. It points out that many cities - including Paris, Madrid, and Hamburg have instituted bans for older, more polluting diesel-engined cars, and these models - many of which still need to be recalled - are being sold and exported to other European nations, where they are still technically fit for sale. Questions have been raised in the recent past about the potential for the ‘dumping’ of older diesel models from the UK into the Irish market.

Problems tracing imports

The continued weakness of sterling is driving huge numbers of Irish buyers to plump for a used UK import, and given the falling second hand values of diesel-engined cars in the UK market, concerns are being raised that we’re effectively importing a significant pollution problem.

Recalling cars that have been sold across borders is difficult - new legislation to allow for an EU-wide recall of cars will only apply to vehicles sold from 2020 onwards. There is also some confusion within the bloc, as some countries have issued mandatory recalls for polluting diesels, while others, including Ireland and the UK, have made it voluntary.

Florent Grelier said: “The EU Single Market fails when it comes to emissions of cars. It only works for selling cars, but not for recalling them when things go wrong.

“Every European has an equal right to clean air. The recent EU ‘roadmap towards clean vehicles’ shows that governments and the industry know exactly what needs to be done, they just have to start implementing,” she said. T&E has said EU governments must make sure recalls will be carried out in a coherent and transparent manner across the whole EU Single Market, and that unfixed cars should not be allowed to be exported unless they are fixed.