The emotional debate about diesel driving bans in many European cities, about the future of the diesel and electromobility are slowly coming to and end.
Volkswagen Group may have jump started the whole debate with dieselgate, but it was on its way already. Volkswagen could be blamed for doing more to damage the diesel’s reputation than any other.
The truth is, however, that even if VW had never used a defeat device to trick emissions tests around the world, it wouldn’t have mattered. Until a few months ago, there was no on-road element to the type approval test. As a result, manufacturers had plenty of legal EU loopholes to allow diesels to emit far more than the current 80 milligrams per kilometer threshold for NOx permitted on the rolling test bench.
The new Real Driving Emissions (RDE) legislation governed under Euro 6d now foresees measuring NOx outside of the laboratory environment as a second, complementary hurdle for type approval. The first cap of 2.1 CF (short for conformity factor) – equating to on-road emissions of no more than 168mg/km – won’t take effect until September 2019 for all new cars sold. The second CF will apply in January 2021. At 1.5 times the legal lab limit, it still allows for 120mg/km of NOx to be produced when the car is on the road.
To “save this industry from itself,” EU Internal Market Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska said last month she would propose by no later than spring 2018 a reduction of the second RDE conformity factor. “I expect more than window dressing,” she told the EU Parliament in Strasbourg while car execs were gathering in Frankfurt. “This is all about the credibility and the reputation of industry. I fear that some still don’t seem to get it.”