The auto industry was rocked in 2015 when it was revealed German car manufacturer Volkswagen (VW) was cheating on emissions tests.
Two years on, VW is still suffering from the fallout.
Earlier this year, the company agreed to pay a settlement of $4.3bn to the US Department of Justice after six of its executives were indicted.
To prevent this happening again, Germany has said it will set up a new organisation to test vehicles to try to restore consumer confidence in VW.
It will work towards creating a national diesel forum to work with both the auto industry and regional governments in the country to cut emissions.
Germany’s transport minister, Alexander Dobrindt, said:
We want emissions to fall across Germany.
A new testing body will be established to ensure transparency and reliability in vehicle tests.
The transport ministry said a new institute would test around 70 car models a year using realistic driving scenarios, rather than relying solely on laboratory conditions.
This is in direct response to the emissions scandal. When the news came out, it was revealed that around 11m devices had been fitted with specific software to reduce their nitrogen oxide emissions in lab tests, in order to fool the US’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the cars were environmentally friendly.
As well, the current tests don’t take into account factors including the use of air conditioning, radio, the weather or style of driving, which the institute will focus on too.
The emissions and fuel consumption results would be made public after the tests in order to make the car industry more open and transparent, as well as ensuring car buyers can make better comparisons.
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The country’s federal motor transport authority, KBA, which currently oversees vehicle testing, will remain responsible for licensing new models, and will oversee the testing of new vehicles until the new institute is established.
The auto industry association, VDA, said its members will fully participate in the new institute in the interests of more transparency.
However, this has led the environmental-focused Greens party to question the independence of the new institute, as the car industry is set to pay its annual €2m ($2.2m) budget.
VW wasn’t the only company affected by the scandal.
After the fallout, authorities stepped up their investigations into other car companies, which has led to other lawsuits and recalls.
Mitsubishi Motors was forced to admit the fuel economy performance of its small cars had been exaggerated, and Mercedes-Benz had to recall vehicles across Europe because of concerns over emissions.
Earlier this month, General Motors was fending off two lawsuits from a Seattle-based law firm alleging that its cheated on emissions test for its Duramax diesel engines and its Cruze vehicles.
It’s good to see Germany taking national steps to prevent the scandal repeating itself as it seems like the drama is still haunting the auto industry as a whole.
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