mead cohen berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn
Gaming the System
US Calls Out Europe For Emissions Cheating

The U.S. EPA caught Volkswagen cheating red-handed almost exactly one year ago, and in the fallout of that initial accusation the world was taken aback by just how brazen the malfeasance was—engineers deliberately installed software that would run the engine differently when it detected that the vehicle was being driven in a testing situation, so as to keep tailpipe emissions artificially lower than they would in typical road conditions.

But perhaps onlookers shouldn’t have been so surprised. After all, Europe has a history with questionable practices on the part of automakers and lax regulatory oversight. This week, a top American regulator acknowledged that the EU’s inadequate car testing has been common knowledge for decades.

Reuters reports:

“The European test cycle has been acknowledged quite broadly since the 1990s to be inadequate,” Grundler, director of the EPA’s transportation and air quality office, said in a written answer to lawmakers’ questions. “Our experience has been that a comprehensive approach is required that means testing vehicles in use as well as having the authority to then follow through enforcement actions.” […]

“It is not enough to have sound standards and sound test procedures,” he told lawmakers. “How they are implemented in practice and the market surveillance aspects are also very, very important … that is the main challenge.”

Europe has fashioned itself as an eco-friendly paradise, but on closer examination much of that environmental marketing turns out to be merely green lipstick on a pig. It has fostered an environment in which automakers are able to essentially forge emissions ratings, duping a trusting public into thinking that the cars they are buying are actually saving the planet.

The market for “green” products is large and growing thanks in large part to widening concern over climate change. People are willing to shell out big bucks to signal their green virtue, but it’s incumbent on regulators to make sure the products being packaged as earth-saving are actually that. Eco-mania has gripped Europe stronger than any other region on the planet, but simply calling something green doesn’t make it so.

Features Icon
Features
show comments
  • Kevin

    Actually the EPA didn’t catch them. Academics did and sent the data to the EPA.

    But on the larger pony, Europe has a tradition of much tighter government-industry ties, often including governmentownership and movement if bureaucrats, politicians and industrial mangers back and forth between government and industry. This facilitates bribery and corruption of all sorts including this type of cheating. Obama’s attempt to make us European is leading us further down thus route.

  • Fat_Man

    “duping a trusting public into thinking that the cars they are buying are actually saving the planet”

    They duped nobody. No one cares except a few enviro weenies, and they don’t drive cars, they fly their private jets.

    • Jim__L

      They duped the small percentage of the population that lives in Silicon Valley and actually takes this stuff seriously.

      I’ve lived all over California — central California where they drive F150s, SoCal where they drive Priuses to look trendy, and Silicon Valley where the Great And The Good small-dollar Obama donors drive Priuses because they mean it.

      Europeans are duping their intended market. The cynics either aren’t buying these cars anyway, or if they are, they’re happy about the cheat.

      • Fat_Man

        They are driving around my neighborhood in Teslas. The market for small diesels is penny pinchers, not enviro weenies. The penny pinchers would only care if the enviro cheat affected the car’s mileage. I am guessing that it doesn’t

        • Kevin

          It improved the mileage at the cost of additional air pollutants.

          • Fat_Man

            That would be totally fine with their customers. The real enviro weenies who care about pollutants drive Teslas, and ignore the fact that the generators are producing more total pollution two states away.

          • Jim__L

            Interesting point — Vietnamese students and professionals are starting to filter into the Silicon Valley scene, bearing with them news about factories bringing pollution to their country.

            Environmental regulations simply move factories elsewhere. Less strict regulations in America – ones that did not overwhelm the importance of factories to their markets — would help prevent this practice.

  • Proud Skeptic

    When you tax $2 gasoline to the point that it costs $8 a gallon, people will do anything to get better gas mileage and air quality be damned.

  • Diogenes60025

    Vehicle emissions standards have become a great, corrupt protection racket on both sides of the Atlantic.
    “We pretend to find a problem, you pretend to fix it.” Ergo EPA
    mileage stickers, which everyone knows have been wrong for more than
    30 years. Everybody gets paid (including 3rd party activists), and
    the target enterprise is allowed to continue in business, albeit
    somewhat poorer and the worse for wear. After “fixing” a
    non-problem.
    The smell of diesel fumes is the smell of prosperity. If you’re not
    smelling it, you’re not prospering.

    CAFE Standards, fine particulates, CO2, super-low NOx–all bogus. The real pollutants were cleaned up in Europe and North America 30 years ago.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2016 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service