Just one in 10 diesel-engined cars on the road meets EU air pollution limits, according to environmental lobbying group Transport and Environment (T&E).
The new Euro 6 emissions standard was introduced on 1 September, but only 10% of cars tested complied with it. Audi and Opel (Vauxhall in the UK) were among the worst offenders.
T&E discovered that, on average, diesel cars pump out emissions five times greater than the allowed limit. The worst new car, an Audi, emitted 22 times as much. Only three out of the 23 tested cars met the new standard.
The problem, says T&E, is Europe’s outdated emissions testing system, which allows carmakers to use cheaper and less effective exhaust treatment systems for diesels sold here. As the infographic below shows, diesel cars sold by the same manufacturers in the US have better exhaust treatment systems and emit less.
A new on-road test is due that will measure ‘real-world’ emissions from diesels. However, it won’t arrive until 2018 at the earliest. And, with diesel after-treatment systems costing around £220 per car, manufacturers aren’t in a rush to introduce them.
Greg Archer, T&E’s clean vehicles manager, said: “Every new diesel car should now be clean but just one in 10 actually is. This is the main cause of the air pollution crisis affecting cities. Carmakers sell clean diesels in the US, and testing should require manufacturers to sell them in Europe too.”
In the UK, the number of diesel cars on the road has risen from 1.6 million to 12 million since 1994.