The recent exposition of Volkswagen’s emission test cheats have gone to show just how hard it is for car manufacturers to make cars which are genuinely less polluting. In order to pass the new Euro 6 emissions test, diesel vehicles have to either be strangled with post-combustion exhaust treatments (injection of urea to reduce NOx, DPF filters to reduce particulates), or run with less power and torque (burn less fuel, put out less CO2).
Or, it would seem, there’s the third option which VW chose to follow – make your car pass the official test, but then don’t give a toss about what comes out of the exhaust in real-world driving.
A year or two ago, I went to an official emissions testing laboratory in the UK. The extent of the rule-bending seemed quite incredible, even then:
- Tyres pumped up to 60+psi for minimal resistance – often with slick tread
- Passenger-side mirror removed
- 12V battery fully charged, and no consumers switched on, to minimise drag from alternator
- Taped-over body shut lines, to improve drag coefficient
- Hollow seat frames, to reduce weight
- Utilising the tolerance on speed allowed for the dyno testing, so you could be 5% slower than the target speed and still pass the test criteria.
Isn’t it crazy that in order to fit into an arbitrary tax bracket for CO2, the car manufacturers are “allowed” to do all these things which make the test figure completely unrealistic for any time the car is used in standard “on-the-road” spec as sold to customers across the world.
For many years, these official emission test figures have got more and more divergent from the truth, with the final nail in the coffin being the “revelation” that VW has specifically written software to cheat the tests, knowing that real-world conditions will be completely different.
Where does this leave Petrol and Diesel cars in the future? Surely, the time has come to move away from reducing emissions, and instead concentrate on zero emission driving?
I will admit, when the story broke last week about VW’s diesels, and the fact that 11 MILLION cars are likely to be affected, I was more than a little bit smug. The car I drive is 100% zero emission. Nothing comes out of the exhaust, mainly because there IS NO EXHAUST.
Emissions testing is not something I worry about. In 10 years time, when a normal car will have done 100,000 miles or more, and it’s cylinders and pistons have worn through friction, it will be harder for them to pass their MoT emissions test. A battery powered vehicle will never have that problem. The motor will keep working, with zero emissions, for a very long time indeed. The motor will keep the same performance, same high torque, same smooth power delivery.
Rather than argue over whether the next car you buy should be a petrol or a diesel, why not consider the genuinely better alternative:
- Zero NOx
- Zero CO2
- Zero Particulates
- 100% Electric.