EPA promises real-world emissions testing for all new cars

EPA promises real-world emissions testing for all new cars

The Environmental Protection Agency has already launched a broad real-world testing program to determine if Volkswagen is the only automaker using ‘defeat’ technology to cheat emissions regulations.

The agency is said to be cooperating with Canadian regulators to perform real-world tests of all diesel-powered vehicles from the 2015 and 2016 model years.

“We are very anxious to find out if there are any other programs out there,” EPA transportation and air quality director Christopher Grundler said in a statement published by The New York Times.

The agency appears to have been caught off guard by VW’s emissions-cheating system, which appears to have allowed non-compliant diesel vehicles to be certified for years before the problems were discovered by West Virginia University researchers and the International Council on Clean Transportation. Tests showed that offending vehicles were emitting up to 40 times the allowable levels of nitrogen oxide.

Further tests quickly identified similar problems with V6 oil burners used in Audi, VW and Porsche models, though VW has denied the allegations.

The EPA testing program presumably started with other VW Group vehicles before moving on to other automakers. Investigators have not yet identified evidence of defeat devices, aside from the alleged discrepancies with VW’s V6 mills, however it will take the agency several more weeks of tests before clearing all diesel models from rival automakers.

VW appears to have taken advantage of the EPA’s lab-focused validation process, which allowed defeat software to be fine-tuned for detecting the predictable test conditions. The agency is now using a mobile setup, packed into a vehicle’s trunk, to gauge tailpipe output while underway.

“Manufacturers have asked us what the test conditions would be, and we’ve told them that they don’t have a need to know,” added Grundler.

Despite the current focus on diesel, the EPA is also expected to begin performing real-world tests of gasoline-powered vehicles to screen for defeat devices or other violations of federal emissions regulations.

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