Fuzzy Math
Another EU Car Company Exposed as a Pollution Cheat?

The scale and sheer audacity of Volkswagen’s emissions test cheating surprised the world last year, but we noted then that VW wasn’t the first green cheat, and it wouldn’t be the last. Now, less than one year later, another European carmaker—Renault—is coming under the microscope for potentially gaming the manner in which its emissions are monitored. The FT reports:

The inquiry’s report, published last month, concluded that some Renault models emitted nitrogen oxides, a cause of respiratory diseases linked to early death, at nine to 11 times higher than EU limits.

But three of the 17 members of the commission said that the published report did not include the full details of their findings, including the fact that a NOx “trap” in the Renault Captur went into overdrive when the sport-utility vehicle was prepared for emissions testing but not during normal driving conditions. […]

The French commission members said they had no evidence that Renault was using similar devices, arguing only that further investigations should be conducted to find out why the cars performed differently during testing. But the omissions have led members to fear that the government might be too lenient because of its 20 per cent stake in the carmaker.

First Germany, now France—it seems that European companies have been making a habit of not behaving as green as they claim…when they think no one is watching.

Before Renault and even before VW, there were already questions about the stringency of emissions testing for European cars. You don’t have to look too closely to see the pattern emerging here, and for a region that takes such preening pride in declaring its devotion to eco-friendly causes, the optics are downright ugly.

The global shift towards low- and zero-emissions technologies and industries is still a relatively new phenomenon, and while consumers trip over themselves to chase the satisfaction that comes from purchasing—and being seen to be purchasing—a “clean diesel” vehicle or head of organic lettuce, the regulations governing these products are struggling to keep up. Hucksters have always been around, but they’re finding the Wild, Wild West of green products to be particular fertile ground for their unscrupulous dealings. It’s not surprising, then, to see more examples of this chicanery in Europe, where environmental awareness is so high (or so we hear). It sure is ironic, though.

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