Been waiting for this

Almost all diesel engines exceed ​official emissions limits once they are in the hands of motorists according to new research, as questions were yesterday raised about potential emissions rigging by Vauxhall and Renault.
Consumer magazine Which? found that 95pc of diesel cars and 10pc of petrol vehicles emitted nitrogen oxides (NOx) above acceptable levels when driven on public roads.

That’s the problem with emissions standards anyway. It’s like school exams, people teaching to the test. Set a standard and everyone will simply make sure that the test can be passed and damn the real world.

The actual answer is that if we decide we want to have cars at a particular price then we have to accept that some people will die.

Similarly, if we decide that we don’t want cars at those price points then also some people will die as a result of no transport.

What isn’t possible is that some people won’t die.

38 thoughts on “Been waiting for this”

  1. The best use of tests was for comparison. Renault and Fiat both have the same specialists making the cars work for the tests, doing the same test. Doesn’t tell you the real MPG, but does tell you that the Renault is better than the Fiat.

  2. Do you have evidence to back up the claim that not being able to afford a diesel car increases your risk of dying? Because it seems slightly, er, preposterous.

  3. Far far more people will die as a result of no transport so fuck the emission tests and the eco-freak scum who demand them.

  4. Me too.

    The fact that there wasn’t much hoo-ha when VW were outed, together with the fact that they pretty much lead the world in engine tech, guarranteed that everyone else was doing it.

    Watch this space.

  5. Those eco-freak scum who would rather we didn’t all breathe in poisonous gasses that can kill us. Scum indeed.

    Much better to cheat, lie, sell cars on false pretenses and make money at the expense of someone else’s health!

    Why does the concept of responsibility only apply at the individual level at not to large companies?

  6. VW were cheating on the tests, but the emissions and mpg performance of their range of cars was not significantly different to that of their rivals. Ergo, all the manufacturers were cheating in some way.

    As noted above, continue to watch this space.

  7. Given that Nox levels in Europe and USA have been steadily falling and that private cars were not a significant proportion of the emissions, I reckon this was only ever a greenie stunt anyway to shame VW. Sadly the media fell for the propaganda.

  8. I too have been working on the principle that “everyone’s been doing it, they just haven’t been caught … yet”. As said, it’s not rocket science that if you impose really really really tough emissions limits, and at the same time “strongly encourage”* measures to increase emissions, then there’s going to be at least some element of “working the system”.

    Just like when some bunch of wazzocks declared that the way to measure “efficiency” in hospitals was to measure waiting lists …

    But in answer to the question above about “Do you have evidence to back up the claim that not being able to afford a diesel car increases your risk of dying?”
    It’s not a case of “if you can’t afford a car then you die”, or’s a bit more nuanced than that.

    It’s widely accepted that personal mobility is “a good thing”. It lets people get to work, get to shops, and do “non-essential” but life improving things like visit relatives, go on holiday, and so on.
    No, I don’t think anyone is suggesting that not having a car means not doing any of those things, but overall – mass personal transport has brought much advancement in “wellbeing”.

    If cars, in general, cost more – then they are less affordable. Thus there is an element of society who will suffer “lower wellbeing”. Put another way, reduced access to affordable transport reduces wellbeing, and overall as a generalisation that results in a slightly increased death rate.

    There is a bit of a parallel here. We keep hearing some idiots calling for “zero deaths” on the roads as if that is a practical target. We could eliminate roads altogether – and bear in mind that people died travelling before we had “roads” – and that would almost eliminate road deaths. But to do so, we’d throw away pretty well everything that gives us a modern healthy lifestyle – you know, food that’s readily available and (mostly) fresh, access to education and healthcare, proper sanitation, communications.

    So there is a balance to be found somewhere. If everything else is equal, then reducing emissions is “a good thing”. But if trying to reduce emissions “too far” results in a bigger increase in risk elsewhere then it’s time to take a step back and assess where the “best” balance point is.

    And no, I don’t have any magic answers !

    * As in, well you don’t “have” to improve fuel consumption, but if you don’t then we’re going to make you wish you had through public vilification and punitive taxation.

  9. ‘we have to accept that some people will die’

    ‘vehicles emitted nitrogen oxides (NOx) above acceptable levels ‘

    People don’t die from NOx.

  10. I know an emissions testing engineer for a very large manufacturer, he tells me:

    1. not everyone is doing it. What VW did.
    2. everybody does calibrate their cars to perform well under the test cycle knowing that real world performance will be worse.

    however, the solution to that problem is to get the test cycle closer to real world driving.

  11. Simon, the claim that Tim explicitly makes in his post is that “people will die” if diesel cars become more expensive as a result of having to comply with tough emission standards. I’m afraid your post is just a lot of whataboutery.

    I find it bizarre that anyone would defend what is clearly immoral (and probably illegal) behaviour by a car manufacturer on what appears to be purely ideological grounds. They lied, they deserve a hefty fine. What is there to defend to here?

  12. Funny enough I justice bought a Golf last weekend. Diesel 1.9l one as well. Goes like a bloody train, and handles well.

    I’m not overly concerned abut the CO2’s or whatever. 50mpg and performance is pretty much it for me.

    I’m sorry, what was the question again?

  13. Oh yeah- I remember now:

    @RichardYot
    “I find it bizarre that anyone would defend what is clearly immoral (and probably illegal) behaviour by a car manufacturer on what appears to be purely ideological grounds. They lied, they deserve a hefty fine. What is there to defend to here?”

    I’m not sure that’s what most people are saying. I think the observation that is closest to the top of most people’s minds is that the utility of affordable cars is in excess (massively) of the environmental impact they cause, and that there are deficiencies in the legislation designed to manage ecological impact, including the tests.

    Previous discussion here came down in favour of fines for those who broke the law IIRC, but most people were expecting the instances to spread beyond VW and diesels. Which bought about the discussion over legislations etc.

    There is a follow up point, though, which isn’t if the legislation and tests are so shit, why not just leave it to the market to sort out, especially if VED was adjusted to act as a kind of Carbon tax.

  14. Also- I love the way we’ve gone from “The oil is running out!” to “Global financial meltdown caused by too much oil!” in about five years.

  15. JS. Well… the Owners have made sure their Preciousss Stuff is now safe and sound in large mobile tanks far away from the actual bombs and bullets.
    The resource itself is still limited and finite. It’s now simply stored Away From Harm.

    As long as they can afford to sit on it, what the price does *now* doesn’t interest them. It’s what the price will do when the production capacity has gone up in flames, and they’re sitting on what they got out when the getting was good is what matters.

  16. Arnald–No transport=no trucks no ambulances etc–no modern life. Call it socialism lite.

    You started drinking seawater again?

    Richard Yot–Yeah the streets would be just full of gassed corpses if the excessive Yank emission standards weren’t adhered to.

    VW shouldn’t have cheated–they should have got together with all car makers and told the Federal Tyranny and its fuckwit–no not fuckwit–evil– eco-freak buddies to fuck off and take their moronic standards with them. Of course Yank motormen aren’t going to say boo the their fedpuke paymasters who keep them in business with taxpayer cash so I guess that is a non-starter.

  17. Bloke in North Dorset

    “Do you have evidence to back up the claim that not being able to afford a diesel car increases your risk of dying? Because it seems slightly, er, preposterous.”

    Its well known that once the elderly start to lose the ability to get about they start to decline quite quickly.

    “Losing the ability to drive can be a big blow to self-esteem to a senior and could trigger depression, anxiety and loneliness. In some cases, seniors may feel isolated and not want to keep up with their medical care, she adds.”

    http://seniorjournal.com/NEWS/Aging/2012/20120501-Decision_for_Senior.htm

    That’s about stopping for medical reasons but the same holds true if you have to stop because you can’t afford a car.

    There’s plenty of other stuff out there if you want to go looking for it.

  18. How big is the market for aged people buying cars? Especially those with medical conditions. I get that particular argument, about self-esteem etc, but presumably the focus should be on helping those people by giving them lifts, minibuses and that.

    Ecks, we’re talking about cars. Personal transport.

  19. Let’s not forget that lots of parts of the world are significantly larger than the UK and access to things like healthcare isn’t practical without vehicles. I know someone that deals with patient transfer where cases that can’t be treated locally are moved to regional hospitals etc. and their main complaint is the lack planes not ambulances.

  20. “People don’t die from NOx”

    Yes they do. It causes smog, which kills off those with poor respiratory function, and acid rain which causes property damage. It also reacts to form ozone, which is poisonous in higher concentrations.

  21. @Arnauld

    “How big is the market for aged people buying cars? ”

    Fucking enormous, judging by the many befuddled motorists I pass day in and day out. And they are almost all Nissan Micras

  22. Even just no cars would cost substantial lives–unless you want the Dr called out after midnight to get to you on the bus let alone the train. Not everybody needs an ambulance and many times it is obvious only to a doctor that an ambulance IS needed. There are lots of after hours doctor call-outs.

    Not to mention the millions who couldn’t get to work. That might harm the economy and so the potential survival prospects of us all somewhat.

  23. “the many befuddled motorists I pass day in and day out”: is that a reference to codgers, or to young women busy with their phones and hair, or young men high on God knows what?

  24. Bloke in North Dorset

    @Arnald

    “How big is the market for aged people buying cars? Especially those with medical conditions. I get that particular argument, about self-esteem etc, but presumably the focus should be on helping those people by giving them lifts, minibuses and that.”

    Round here we get the stage coach a couple of times a day and yes there is some other transport but that is all set times. We are used to self help but it usually means the elderly who can drive helping the old who can’t. My 65 year old neighbour spent Christmas day taking his wife to see her mother in hospital and then to her father’s to check he was OK, for example.

    If you’re going to price him out of the car market its more than just him who will suffer.

  25. Wot John square said.

    I too love my diesel cars. I’d hate it if they were the cause of piles of corpses in the streets, as then I’d have to swerve around them. Fortunately longevity seems to be at an all time high, so I don’t think there is much of a real problem except in the minds of Green Activists.

    Perhaps if the emission standards were more sensible we would all benefit from better, cheaper vehicles, with fewer “environmental” bits to go expensively wrong.

  26. Well, VW were explicitly programming their engines to perform differently on a dyno test, a special mode was enabled that reduced (basically speaking) peak engine temperatures so the NOx emissions were reduced.

    VW in fact does extract more Kw and torque from their engines than most, a point they use to seel. For example the standard VAG 2.0 Diesel has 103, 125, 130 (I think) and 176 Kw models, the difference being the turbo size and settings with the 176 Kw being a twin turbo. The point is that the extra turbo boost improves efficiency and increases power…..and increases combustion temperatures. Without this increase in temp, the extra power is very hard to obtain, AND, it’s the higher temp that generates NOX.

    It appears that other Euro manufacturers have been catching up with the VAG diesel engine outputs, Peugeot have 100, 120, and 132 Kw versions of their DW10 2.0 diesel. So maybe they’re also cheating in a similar or related way. Or they could use some emissions control equipment, BMW for example (and MB) produce diesels with equivalent or even higher Kw figures than VAG, but typically I believe those models include Urea injection systems to control NOX.

    Good petrol engines don’t typically produce a lot of NOX because temperatures are lower (lower compressions), but they can especially high performance engines.

  27. “Good petrol engines don’t typically produce a lot of NOX because temperatures are lower”

    That’s why they are less efficient (lower temperature -> thermodynamics I believe). *Bad* petrol engines, wasting Gaia’s resources!

    But still “better” than clear felling American forests to make into wood pellets for Drax, or rainforest cleared for palm oil.

    You takes your Ideology, you makes your choice…

  28. The real point is that the politicians of Europe de facto accepted that more people would be harmed today from particulates, NOx, SOx etc by substituting diesel for petrol in order to reduce CO2 emissions to meet their targets aimed at preventing some unspecified harm in some unspecified future. They just don’t want to admit it since any sacrifice to meet Green targets is deemed acceptable, even if it isn’t. The fact that regulators imposed emission targets they wanted to achieve as opposed to ones that were achievable led to this ‘teaching to the test’ and yes it is immoral, but cleaning up the existing stock of diesels rather than prosecuting the cleanest diesels for not being even cleaner will do more to actually clean up the air. Not that anyone cares of course, not when there is so much money to be made from fines and lawsuits (and so much market share to be gained in the US by Ford, GM etc, who doubtless blew the whistle in the first place.)

  29. Oy! I am an elderly (78) driver with yes, a Nissan Micra.I try to keep within the speed limits as I don’t want to waste money on fines but I don’t hang about when the opportunity occurs.
    So VW had different results in real life rather thanwhen on test. What is wrong with that ? Who drives to test standard having obtained a driving licence?

  30. @dearie me:

    “the many befuddled motorists I pass day in and day out”: is that a reference to codgers, or to young women busy with their phones and hair, or young men high on God knows what?”

    That reference was to codgers. The young women are awful too, as are drunk young men.

    The absolute worst driving I see though, is middle aged men. 60 mph in the middle Lane of the motorway? Middle aged man. Zero awareness of other drivers around them? Middle aged men. Abrupt lane changes without indicating? Middle aged men. It’s spooky.

  31. BiND

    Surely an elderly person who drives will already have a car? They’ve got one now, in your example, and there have been mounting regulations.

    Surely the worst that will happen is that cars may not get cheaper.

    Manufacturing is at highest in ten years despite the hoops.

  32. Bloke in North Dorset

    Arnald,

    Its not about the current elderly but the future elderly ie me and others like me who are just moving in to the age band.

  33. “Far far more people will die as a result of no transport”

    Can you tell me how that works, please?

    In the extreme case of no cars, there’s less money, so less health services, so more people die.

    Even more trivially, if you can’t get to hospital in a hurry ….

    I imagine if looked at in the statistical way that attributes X deaths in London each year to lorry emissions (hence the lorry restrictions) you can attribute many deaths to less transport.

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