OEMs face €3m bill for French emissions tests

November 25, 2016

The French government wants to launch a €3 million emissions testing programme which will be paid for by manufacturers, lawmakers were told yesterday.

As part of a string of measures being discussed following the diesel emissions scandal, French environment minister Ségolène Royal is proposing a new regime of in-life checks on vehicle emissions.

She told members of the EU’s investigation into the emissions testing programme that vehicle checks need to be strengthened throughout Europe.

France has already carried out spot checks on a number of manufacturers’ models and found that most break EU emissions limits in real-world driving.

In written answers to questions from the Emission Measurements in the Automotive Sector (EMIS) inquiry, she said: ‘Market surveillance needs to be strengthened in France and Europe. Manufacturers must contribute financially to this monitoring.

‘The test campaign carried out by France shows that a small levy on each new vehicle sold, of the order of €1-2 per vehicle, would make it possible to set up satisfactory market surveillance.’

If the regime was adopted across Europe, it would cost manufacturers up to €30 million a year.

France’s real-world emissions tests on carmakers’ diesel models in the wake of the emissions scandal prompted detailed investigations into several brands.

Most recently, it was announced that Renault is facing a criminal investigation over emissions from its diesel cars. French officials have passed a file to prosecutors amid concerns its engine technologies broke the law.

Renault is the only carmaker other than Volkswagen Group to be referred for possible criminal investigation in France, but Royal said that the government is still reviewing test results for several other manufacturers.

Royal has vowed to ‘make manufacturers face up to their responsibilities’ and insisted they were to blame for the emissions crisis, not the government.

She added that French authorities would refuse to approve new models which failed to meet proposed real-world emissions limits, even though they are not yet in force.

On a more positive note, Royal welcomed an initiative by PSA Group to publish the real-world fuel economy of its entire range, which has shown an average drop of 30% in fuel efficiency compared to official tests.

However, she cautioned that EU authorities had to develop emissions tests that consumers could trust, saying: ‘For the proper functioning of the European market, the European Commission should not allow each manufacturer to develop its own tests without ensuring consistency.’

Industry experts warn that consumers may have to visit several different sources to obtain an accurate view of a car’s performance in future.

Nick Molden, founder of Emissions Analytics, warned that new official EU tests are still likely to understate a vehicle’s fuel consumption and emissions by up to 15%, but they remain critical in many countries for calculating annual road tax and company car tax.

To understand real-world running costs and emissions, consumers and companies may have to turn to independent tests, provided through third-parties or by manufacturers.

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