EU Knew Of VW’s ‘Defeat Device’ Five Years Ago, Said Nothing

Craig Boudreau | Vice Reporter

Researchers from the European Union (EU) told top officials that Volkswagen (VW) was apparently using a ‘defeat device’ to get past emissions testing five years ago, yet the EU did nothing about it.

In a piece published by Clean Technica on Thursday they explain the “documents amongst the uncovered cache reveal that the European Commission’s in-house researchers uncovered the suspected defeat device all the way back in 2010 — and promptly warned the commission.”

A ‘defeat device‘, as the Environmental Protection Agency defines it, is used to “bypass, defeat, or render inoperative elements of the vehicles’ emissions control system that exist to comply with CAA [Clean Air Act] emissions standards.”

Joint Research Centre scientists told the ‘dieselgate‘ commission that “they were never given a mandate to investigate the defeat devices issue further.” as reported by The Guardian on Sunday.

What’s more, Kathleen van Brempt, chair of the dieselgate inquiry said, “These documents show that there has been an astonishing collective blindness to the defeat device issue in the European commission, as well as in other EU institutions.”

Even the EU’s environment department DG Envi raised questions about these devices potentially being used to cheat the system. They warned there was “increasing evidence of illegal practices by car manufacturers that defeat the anti-pollution systems to improve driving performance or save on the replacement of costly components.” in a 2013 report on air pollution.

The Clean Technica piece goes on to explain that the Director of the EU’s enterprise department even noted in April that there was a disparity between levels of Nitric Oxide (NOx) at the testing facilities and real world observations, but the commission said they did not see any cheating.

An article published by ft.com in 2015 notes how these devices can sense when they are being tested. “Sensors and electronic components in modern light-duty vehicles are capable of ‘detecting’ the start of an emissions test in the laboratory,”

Greenpeace explained in an article from 2015 that diesel vehicle makers spent more than $20 million lobbying the EU.

Analysts from Exane BNP Paribas found that of the more than 10 million diesel cars sold in 2014, three quarters were sold in the Europe. Further, they found that 53 percent of all cars sold in 2014 in the EU were diesel, as published by ft.com in 2015.

In September of 2015 VW halted all sales of its new 2.0 liter diesel cars.

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