Editor's comment

Emissions is still a dirty word

Published:  25 April, 2016

Just when you thought it was safe to back in the water… a famous movie tag line of course. For car buyers, just replace ‘water’ with ‘dealership’ and you’ll have an accurate picture of the state of the vehicle market at present. You guessed it, another emissions scandal.

Of course to the aftermarket it may not be such a big deal but then anything that damages the vehicle industry can have knock-on effects. The news that employees at Mitsubishi falsified emissions records by running test vehicles with incorrect tyre pressures has again shocked the world. The fact that this is limited to around 600,000 vehicles in Japan is irrelevant according to the media, this is another manufacturer cheating. What’s worse, it also affects the models built for Nissan, a company higher up the chain and owned by Renault, whose offices were raided by French authorities in January.

As I write this, news is breaking that Peugeot’s offices are also being raided in France although just like Renault, the company claims it is procedural and they have done nothing wrong. Still, the story has been headline news around the world and consumers are understandably nervy, especially if they buy a vehicle based on its ‘green’ credentials. 

It brings the industry into disrepute as various checks are needed, manufacturers issue recalls (which brings customers back to dealerships) and could even lead to a surge in drivers buying hybrid and electric vehicles. The industry gets a bad name, vehicle sales fall and it has a knock-on effect on the parts supply and servicing market.

However, there is an upside. With confidence weak in vehicle manufacturers and the EU investigating claims of fraud and misguidance, confidence in them will wane and this could affect their bargaining power. If manufacturers want to restrict access to vehicle diagnostics, does that give them a chance to develop any cheat devices further? Surely it’s in the best interest of the industry for an open platform that can be accessed by anyone with the correct tools, unless there is something to hide?

New testing will be coming in soon that will see emissions monitored in a lab and on the road as well, trying to bring as much real-world testing as possible. This cannot come too soon as the DfT has released a report stating that while no other manufacturers were found to be using cheat devices, there was a vast difference between laboratory results and track tests in the level of NOx emissions.

Unfortunately for the industry this is a story that will run and run, however for the aftermarket, it could be a turning point in the battle with the VMs.

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