VW scandal shows 1m tonnes of pollutants were hidden

23 Sep 2015

While the Volkswagen (VW) scandal continues to shock the car industry, the damage to the environment has already been done, after it was revealed more than 1m tonnes of pollutants were concealed.

The VW scandal is easily one of the costliest in motor history with VW having to set aside €5.6bn to recall the nearly 500,000 cars that had been fitted with its Type EA 189 engines.

The demand for their recall came from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after it was found the engine had been fitted with a device that would reduce the amount of emissions of the gas nitrous oxide (NOx) when it was being tested.

Future Human

While the board of VW question whether its chief executive Martin Winterkorn can continue in his position, The Guardian estimated that under its illegal conduct the company’s cars spewed out 1m tonnes of NOx that was unaccounted for.

With estimates putting the number of cars potentially fitted with the device as high as 11m, this would put the amount of annual NOx emissions in the region of between 237,161 and 948,691 tonnes per year since the engine launched.

More emissions than UK total

Using this analysis, The Guardian said that this would effectively equate to the UK’s entire emissions output from vehicles, industry, agriculture and power stations.

Fortunately for those worried about air pollution in the US, only 3pc of cars there have a diesel engine installed, most of which are in Texas and California.

However, the number of diesel cars in Europe is significantly higher and those within the European Union governments are calling for greater action to be taken for air quality laws, particularly after this recent news.

“Manufacturers in the US have been caught out, but we know that pollution limits are also being breached in Europe,” said the UK MEP, Catherine Bearder. “Unless we take action, thousands of lives will continue to be tragically cut short by air pollution.”

Diesel engine image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic