Five Diesel Emission Facts the Car Industry Want Kept Quiet

by SpeedLux
cars waiting on road

The diesel emission scandal broke in 2015, but as early as 2013 the United States’ International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) already conducted an examination on diesel car pollution. What John German – a Senior Fellow in the ICCT – and his team did was compare exhaust pipes emissions from lab tests with those that were emitted while the vehicle was driven in real-world driving conditions. Their goal was to find something that would help them further prove that diesel was clean.

Using VW’s Jetta as a test subject, John and his team were assisted by  California regulators to perform a routine certification test on the vehicles.

Researchers drove the vehicles being studied around cities, mountains, and highways. That was when they realised that something was wrong with the cars. They could not specifically pinpoint what it was, but they knew it had something to do with nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions. The volume emitted was way over the limit, ranging from 15 to 35 times above the legal level. They couldn’t understand why the lab tests and driving tests had significantly different results. John knew it only meant one thing: defeat devices. 

However, he did not immediately accuse VW for using cheat devices; instead, they continued the research. They did not divulge anything to the media and public. They simply posted the results online.

John also sent emails to the California Resources Board (CARB), the U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), and a friend at Volkswagen. In 2015, the Dieselgate scandal involving VW happened. After VW, several other manufacturers were also implicated, which then led to the Mercedes emissions scandal

Even with the many revelations unravelling over the years, though, the majority of consumers still do not understand the emissions scandal. A major reason for this is the fact that the car industry has been keeping secrets for years, things that consumers need to know. Here are five of those secrets. 

5 car industry secrets about diesel vehicles

To continue their efforts of painting diesel cars as cleaner than gasoline/gasoline hybrid vehicles, the car industry has kept the following facts a secret for years:

1. Diesel cars typically release nitrogen oxides that are at least 10 times higher than most gasoline cars.

Tests conducted by the ICCT showed that Euro 6 diesel vehicles driven on the road emitted NOx that were seven to 10 times higher compared to those that were emitted when the cars were  subjected to lab tests. 

Nitrogen oxides are a combination of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO). The NOx emissions coming from vehicles had higher amounts of NO2, which is more devastating and toxic than NO and other nitrogen oxides. This does not only cause environmental problems, but, over time, may cause adverse health effects as well, including respiratory and cardiovascular problems and lung damage.

2. Diesel exhaust is carcinogenic according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Exposure to such a pollutant can cause a variety of short and long-term health effects. Hence, it can cause different health problems (apart from the ones mentioned above). 

The short-term effects include aggravated symptoms caused by asthma and inflammation of the airways (and even healthy people are susceptible to this). 

Higher exposure to NOx will increase risk to respiratory issues, which can lead to multiple hospital visits and admissions. 

Long-term health effects of regular NOx exposure include cancer, heart attacks, low birth weight, heart attack, and premature death. 

3. The diesel emissions issue is widespread throughout the automotive industry and the world, although manufacturers and performances vary greatly. 

The Dieselgate scandal and the Mercedes Benz emissions scandal started in the United States and in a matter of months, spread throughout Europe and the United Kingdom. Although the highest percentage of high-level emissions is in highly polluted urban areas, it doesn’t matter where one is driving because there are thousands of cars affected. Some cars meet the legal limit, but many others do not. This is because some manufacturers prefer to use less expensive but inefficient exhaust treatment systems. 

4. Although they are sometimes cheaper, diesel cars have more devastating effects on air quality compared to gasoline hybrid cars. Diesel vehicles release more CO2 (carbon dioxide) than gasoline vehicles, which is a threat to the environment and can cause respiratory diseases. Additionally, the biofuels that are added in diesel vehicles results in more CO2 emissions. If this is taken into consideration, diesel cars do not offer significant benefits.

5. Laboratory testing for vehicles often produces meaningless, manipulated, and deceptive results. This is proven in the ICCT study led by John German in 2013. First of all, laboratory conditions are different from real-world driving conditions. Secondly, manufacturers use a variety of techniques to lower NOx emissions, which eventually led to the installation of defeat devices that manipulate emissions tests. 

How you can help
If you have an affected vehicle, you can do your share in helping reduce NOx emissions by getting in touch with your manufacturer and verifying your car’s situation. Hire emissions compensation experts that can help you file for a claim that will give you back what the manufacturer owes you. It won’t be an easy process, but the team at knows how to help you win. They’re also familiar with industry secrets related to the emissions scandal.

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