There have two major environmental stories this week and one of them involves emissions at Volkswagen. The company has been in trouble for allegedly fiddling its emissions data in the US. This is becoming a huge story in the business press and this scandal has caused the companies share price to plunge. The reason for this is not just reputational damage but also a potential $18 billion dollar fine (about $37,000 per car for clean act volitions) and a huge recall. What is the company supposed to have done? Fiddled its NOx figures. In the US where diesel cars make less than 1% of sales the emissions targets are much tighter than Europe where the sales of diesel cars make up 50% of all sales. Interestingly though the different methods of emissions testing has made it easier for the company to get away with it. Apparently in Europe a large number of cars are pulled at random from the production line and tested, in the US just one car is used which makes it easier to doctor.
Apart from Volkswagens alleged dishonesty this whole case raises an important issue to do with emissions, at least indirectly. The whole method of mileage testing in Europe is a nonsense. Driving a car round a test track with the vehicle stripped of anything it can be, by skilled drivers simulating different driving conditions is farcical. In reality most cars return massively lower mileage figures than the manufacturer says (not just Volkswagen but all of them). This is the real legal emissions scandal and requires urgent attention.