The European Parliament wants that in the future there will no longer be a difference between the emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) from cars as measured in a laboratory and the actual emissions while driving. Deviations should be a thing of the past in two years.

The European Parliament decided to do this earlier this month. In this way, a start should be made to reduce the number of particulate matter-related deaths in Europe. According to the European Environment Agency, 400,000 people die prematurely each year, mainly in Central and Eastern Europe. Passenger cars are responsible for 40 percent of total NOx emissions in the EU, according to the European body.

The European Parliament therefore wants to ensure that passenger car emissions meet EU standards. To test this, measurements in a laboratory setting are abandoned and so-called Real Driving Emission (RDE) tests are introduced. In this way, the actual emissions while driving can be measured.

This is done by means of a portable emission measurement system, which is mounted on the car during a test drive. The standards for such emission measuring equipment have now been tightened by the European Parliament. This should prevent cars that appear to be very clean on paper from having much more emissions in practice. This deviation must be gone by September 30, 2022 to be precise.

The European Parliament wants to ensure that emissions meet EU standards. (Photo: Getty Images)

Against the backdrop of the diesel scandal

The move stems from the ongoing discussion surrounding the diesel scandal discovered at Volkswagen in 2015. The group applied special software that enabled the on-board computer of a vehicle to recognize a laboratory test. In this way NOx emissions could be kept artificially low.

Models from Audi, Porsche, Skoda and Seat were also involved. Derogations were later found in BMW, Daimler, Jeep, Opel and Suzuki cars. Allegations of manipulation have also been made against Nissan, Mitsubishi Peugeot and Renault. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles had raids last week due to the possible application of cheating software.

The introduction of RDE testing and the use of portable emission measurement systems were some of the recommendations of the 2016 Survey of emission measurements in the automotive sector.

A portable emissions measurement system on the back of an Alfa Romeo. (Photo: Wikimedia)

Appearance against

Despite the fact that modern diesel engines that meet the strict Euro 6d temp, the current European emission standard, indeed emit much less NOx today, the diesel power source remains suspicious. Earlier this year, it was discovered that the cleaning of the diesel particulate filter (DPF) released considerably more particulate matter (PN) than allowed.

Ultimately, the legal limit for PN emissions per kilometer was exceeded by between 32 and 115 percent during the so-called DPF regeneration. If the most harmful ultra-fine dust (particles of around 10 nanometers) is also included, the emissions will be between 11 and 184 percent higher.

The survey by the independent non-profit organization Transport & Environment, conducted by the British engineering firm Ricardo, further found that the 45 million diesel cars with such particulate filters in the EU account for 1.3 billion of such cleaning sessions annually.

The researchers therefore proposed that the so-called Euro6d temp diesels should no longer be labeled as 'clean'.