German regulator extends scope of Volkswagen emission investigation

MEPs criticise EU and member states for failing to tackle 'silent killer' emissions.

By William Louch

12 Nov 2015

German car regulator, Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA) has announced it is expanding its investigation into the suspected manipulation of nitrous oxide emissions.

The investigation will now extend beyond Volkswagen, testing over 50 models from car makers including BMW, Ford, Peugeot, Renault and Volvo. In September this year, VW were found to have fitted a defeat device to 11 million vehicles worldwide, allowing them to cheat tests for emissions of nitrogen oxides.

KBA said the tests were prompted by a combination of Volkswagen admitting they had rigged the emissions tests as well as, "verified indications from third parties regarding unusual pollutants emissions."


The statement continued, "since the end of September, KBA has been investigating whether further manipulation of emissions, of nitrogen oxides in particular, is taking place in the market."

The announcement that the scope of the investigation is being extended has prompted MEPs to call for stricter regulations on the automobile industry and to question whether EU leaders are doing enough to protect public health.

Nessa Childers, an S&D MEP and a member of Parliament's environment and public health committee, accused EU leaders of sacrificing public health in favour of corporate companies.

She said, "Just after they affected a bout of pearl-clutching on foot of the Volkswagen emissions rigging scandal, EU leaders showed whose side they are on in this battle between public health and corporate lawlessness."

She continued, "When the European automobile industry knows they can dictate policy whenever their bottom line is at stake, championed by the Union's most powerful country, is it any wonder that they believe themselves free to act like they are above the law?"

Catherine Bearder, of Parliament's ALDE grouping, also highlighted the lack of action from national governments in tackling NO2 emissions.

Bearder discovered, via a freedom of information request, that the UK government voted in favour of an EU deal to double limits for nitrous oxide emissions, something believed to cause 23,500 deaths in the UK each year.

She called the government action "shameful" and said that, "the VW scandal should have been a wake-up call, but instead Conservative ministers are continuing to turn a blind eye to this invisible killer."

Bas Eickhout, environment spokesperson for the European Parliament's Green/EFA group welcomed the announcement, saying, "it is very good that German authorities are taking this step."

He added, "the only way to restore the credibility of the European car industry is by undertaking an in-depth investigation into all car manufacturers."

Last month, MEPs passed a resolution, with a significant majority, recommending that the EU emissions testing system be strengthened and to consider whether an EU-level surveillance authority is worth establishing.

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