In the aftermath of the VW diesel emissions scandal, regulators in many countries are taking a closer look at emissions from all vehicles. The German Transport commission recently indicated that it has issues with the way General Motors’ Opel division interprets a law about shutting off vehicle emissions systems under certain conditions, according to Automotive News Europe. The commission is also investigating a Fiat Chrysler car.
The Opel Zafira minivan engine cuts the exhaust treatment system under certain engine revolution, speed, and air pressure conditions. For example, the system turns off when the vehicle speed exceeds 90 miles per hour. Opel’s stance is that shutting off the emissions controls in those conditions protects the engine. The German authorities are not so sure.
German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said, “Shut-off devices are fundamentally illegal unless it is truly necessary to safeguard the engine. The investigating committee has doubts about whether this practice is completely justified by the protection of the engine.”
Dobrindt added, “Opel promised complete cooperation at today’s talks.” The commission gave Opel 14 days to produce the technical information to back up its view and allow the commission access to the car’s software. The commission has also asked if the Opel Astra uses the same software and the company said it would provide that information as well.
Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann said,”I reiterate that our engines conform to the law and do not use illegal software.”
The questions about the Opel engines are not on the same scale as the VW dieselgate problem. In that case, the vehicles could detect when they were being tested and only operated the emissions control at those times.
The Transport Commission also has questions for Fiat Chrysler. There are claims that the Fiat 500X 2.0-liter diesel version has NOx (nitric oxide) emission levels much higher than allowed.
As government bodies pay more scrutiny to vehicle emissions, the wiggle room or loose regulatory interpretation that may have been possible in the past are more likely to tighten up. And with better compliance, we’ll all benefit.