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“These new test results [from Emissions Analytics] prove that the Volkswagen scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. What we are seeing here is a dieselgate that covers many brands and many different car models,” said Greg Archer, an emissions expert at Transport & Environment. “The only solution is a strict new test that takes place on the road and verified by an authority not paid by the car industry.”

Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Mazda and Mitsubishi have joined the list of manufacturers whose cars are known to emit significantly more pollution on the road -so in real life- than in regulatory tests, according to the Guardian.

Surprisingly, some Honda models emitted 6x the regulatory limit of NOx pollution while some unnamed 4×4 models had over 20 times the NOx limit coming out of their exhaust pipes.

“The issue is a systemic one” meaning that it is ubiquitous within the industry, said Nick Molden, whose company Emissions Analytics tested the cars. The Guardian revealed last week that diesel cars from Renault, Nissan, Hyundai, Citroen, Fiat, Volvo and Jeep all released significantly more NOx in more realistic driving conditions.

Molden said Emissions Analytics had looked at about fifty classed as Euro 6 diesels and one-hundred and fifty classes as Euro 5 diesels, with only five having real-world NOx levels that matched up with the regulatory tests. That’s a rate of 5/200, or approximately 2.5%: way below a failing grade. The failure of the EU’s NOx test to limit real-world emissions, and tackle air pollution, has been known for some years, but specific manufacturers had not been named.

“The VW issue in the US was purely the trigger which threw light on a slightly different problem in the EU – widespread legal over-emissions,” Molden said. “For NOx, cars are on average four times over the legal limit, because of the lenient nature of the test cycle in the EU.”

The Emissions Analytics’ tests showed 4x4s to have the highest NOx emissions, with several unnamed models emitting over 15 times official levels and one more than 20 times.

Friends of the Earth air pollution campaigner Jenny Bates said: “With further manufacturers implicated, this is yet more evidence that this scandal goes way beyond VW, and should cause decision makers to question the very future of diesel vehicles on our roads. This is a massive public health disgrace and the failure to prevent vehicles breaking pollution rules will have cost lives.” I would add that it should cause decision makers to question the incentive model within industry and effectiveness of existing regulatory structures.

Several companies [Mercedes and Honda] have been quick to claim that they stand behind tighter regulations. In a strange twist, the ACEA chairman and Renault chief executive, Carlos Ghosn, said that no significant progress on NOx was possible prior to 2019. Reuters said that ACEA, which lobbies for Europe’s automotive industry in Brussels, told the officials on 1 October that the NOx limit for a new, more realistic test should be 70% higher than today’s limit. An ACEA spokeswoman said it was “too early in the process to confirm or comment on hypothetical figures.”

Keeping this in mind, it should be no surprise that a report for the United Nations found almost no major industry even remotely profitable if they would include their environmental costs. The problem is, as Molden stated, a systemic one, but the system is not just the automotive industry.