BBC: VW cheated in Europe too

Panorama questions Opel/Vauxhall emissions too

The BBC has claimed that VW deliberately cheated emissions tests in Europe, in addition to the US emissions scandal it has admitted to. In addition the BBC’s Panorama programme also questioned the emissions behaviour of an Opel Zafira, which appeared to emit more NOx in both hot and cold engine conditions than European legislation allows.

In order to demonstrate this, Panorama took a VW Passat BlueMotion to an accredited test centre in the Czech Republic – apparently no UK-based centres would help – and monitored its test results against the Euro V requirements. The test was run by associate professor Michel Voitisjek and his team, while Ted Foreman, former UK government type approval engineer, oversaw the process. He was responsible, for example, for ensuring the vehicle was fitted with tyres inflated at the correct pressure, so as not to skew rolling resistance results. At the end of the initial test, the Passat passed.

However, the engineers ran the car again at high speed in order to convince the on-board computer the vehicle was no longer being tested, before repeating the test. The second test result showed a 160 per cent increase in NOx emissions, reaching 435mg/km – more than twice the legal limit in Europe. The BBC presented its results to VW, which admitted the software device had “changed its emissions strategy” depending on whether it thought it was in a test.

The programme also tested a second car – this time a 2015 registered 1.6 litre Opel Zafira EcoFlex. The Zafira was tested against the tougher Euro VI standard because it is a newer car. However, this car failed the test, emitting double the 80mg/km Euro VI limit the first time round. As with the first car, they tried this model at higher speeds – first motorway cruising, then motorway overtaking (135 km/k) – and found its NOx emission to be literally off the scale. By the time they ran the second Euro VI emission test, the car was emitting 3.5 times the permissible amount.

Vauxhall denied the reports, saying in a statement: “None of our cars has any features that detect whether a car is actually undergoing an emissions test”.


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