T&E report claims only one in 10 diesel vehicles tested on the road complied with Euro 6 emissions standard

All new diesel cars in the European Union (EU) should have met the Euro 6 auto emissions standard, which reduces some pollutants by 96% compared to the 1992 limits, from September 1. But just one in 10 diesel cars tested on the road complied with the legal limit, according to a new report from Brussels-based sustainable transport group Transport & Environment (T&E). The report compiled recent data to show that when diesel vehicles are tested in normal driving conditions they emit much greater levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx). NOx and other vehicle-related pollution are estimated to cause half a million premature deaths each year in the EU.

On average, new EU diesel cars produce emissions about five times higher than the allowed limit, the report said. The results are compiled in a new report, “Don’t Breathe Here,” in which T&E analyses the reasons for and solutions to air pollution caused by diesel machines and cars. Just three out of 23 tested vehicles met the new standards when tested on the road, which T&E attributes to Europe’s testing system, which it says “is obsolete, allowing carmakers to use cheaper, less effective exhaust treatment systems in cars sold in Europe.”

In contrast, diesel cars sold by the same manufacturers in the U.S., where limits are tighter and tests are more rigorous, have better exhaust treatment systems and produce lower emissions, T&E said.

A new on-road test will, for the first time, measure diesels’ real-world emissions but it will not apply to all new cars until 2018 at the earliest.