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Grace period for diesel in Germany

Strict emission tests for diesel vehicles in Germany will be postponed for two years. Actually, the new measurement procedures were announced for 2021. The German Environmental Aid criticises that the Ministry of Transport is doing too little against dirty diesels on the roads to protect the car industry.

Already in 2017, as a reaction to the diesel scandal, the stricter emission tests for diesel vehicles were initiated. They are supposed to measure the actual emissions of the vehicles in real-world operation and prevent emissions in certain situations from being significantly higher than permitted due to defeat devices. While in the diesel scandal such devices were also there to deceive customers and authorities, according to the carmakers they exist nowadays only to protect the engine in certain situations. For example, in extreme temperatures, more emissions are emitted to prevent damage to the engine. The German Environmental Aid (DUH) calls this a loophole with which the car industry wants to justify the high emissions.

According to a report published last Wednesday by the DUH in cooperation with the Emissions Control Institute (EKI), the nitrogen oxide emissions of many of the cars tested were significantly higher than the limits allow. Even under normal conditions, some of the 15 vehicles tested exceeded the nitrogen oxide emissions by a factor of 18. The DUH is also concerned about CO2 emissions. In the case of one plug-in hybrid examined, these were 440% higher than permitted. In the case of newer diesel vehicles of Euro standards 5 and 6, nitrogen oxide values increase above all in the aforementioned temperature loopholes.

The emissions test, also known as the tailpipe test, which was initiated in 2017, is now not scheduled to take place until 2023. According to the Ministry of Transport led by Andreas Scheuer (CSU), the new tests are not yet fully developed. The DUH and the Greens see the inaction of the transport ministry as deliberate to protect the car industry. Surely the test procedures could have been conclusively developed within 4 years.

At the same time, more and more eco-lanes and zones are being abolished, for example in Düsseldorf, Balingen and Schramberg. The CDU and CSU also see many of the diesel driving bans as unlawful, since air quality improved significantly last year, probably also because of the Corona pandemic. So while the government is postponing stricter emissions tests, the briefly improved air values are simultaneously being used to put old diesel vehicles back on the roads.

Only last week we reported on an ADAC investigation into Euro Standard 7, in which many Euro 6 vehicles are already well below the limit values. The measurements of DUH and EKI paint a different picture.

This is another reason why there is an urgent need for a new government exhaust emission test, so that the actual emissions of the vehicles can be checked. This is the only way to ensure air quality in the cities even after the pandemic and to protect the health of the inhabitants.