Europe has been lax in its vehicle emissions testing for decades, and enforcement needs to tighten up to stop future fiascos like the Volkswagen scandal, EPA’s Chris Grundler told European Union lawmakers.
Grundler, director of the EPA’s transportation and air quality office, submitted written comments on Monday before an EU committee investigating cheating on diesel-car emissions tests. He said new EU road testing rules are not going to resolve the problem.
“The European test cycle has been acknowledged quite broadly since the 1990s to be inadequate,” Grundler said in written comments. “Our experience has been that a comprehensive approach is required that means testing vehicles in use as well as having the authority to then follow through enforcement actions.”
EU has been considering testing vehicles on roads rather than in laboratories to stop illusive tactics such as VW’s “defeat device,” which diverted accurate reporting. Diverting accurate testing allowed VW diesel cars to emit toxic nitrogen oxide emissions capable of going up to seven times their European limits.
Regulators in Europe “still have more work to do” on stopping cheating during its new Real-Driving Emissions test procedures, Grundler said.
EU has been under pressure to clamp down on diesel emissions for several years. Diesel cars have made up a large percentage of new vehicle sales in Europe for decades, and EU authorities have been admitting failures in trying to curb emissions from a technology that could cause cancer.
Grundler said that EU has gaps in its checking vehicle compliance, including gauging the performance of exhaust-curbing technology after vehicles have been in use for several years. Another testing cycle is gauging the amount of gases spewed out when the engine is revving up, which makes for the heaviest discharge, Grundler said.
“It is not enough to have sound standards and sound test procedures,” Grundler said. “How they are implemented in practice and the market surveillance aspects are also very, very important … that is the main challenge.”
Grundler has been part of making changes to EPA testing protocols to avoid more problems like VW emissions reporting. After the scandal broke last year, EPA sent a letter out to automakers saying the agency will start testing light-duty vehicles already on American roads to check for potentially out-of-compliance cars.