Millions of Dieselgate Cars Still on Our Roads, Report Says

The Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal disrupted the global automotive industry more than seven years ago, yet its repercussions are still felt. Millions of affected vehicles are still out on EU and UK roads, spewing excess amounts of toxic emissions.

According to the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), there are still around 13 million diesel vehicles purchased from 2009 to 2019 that may be equipped with illegal defeat devices being driven on the roads. In addition, evidence revealed that approximately six million more vehicles emit unlawful levels of nitrogen oxides or NOx. These levels span different carmakers and at least 200 diesel-powered models.

The ICCT test collected relevant data from official tests that the government facilitated using controlled settings. Of the 1,400 tests, around 77% of diesel vehicles under Euro 6 (the EU’s current emissions rules) and 85% of vehicles under Euro 5 (older models) emitted excessive volumes of dangerous gases. These numbers, according to authorities, indicate the presence of a defeat device in the vehicle.

A defeat device automatically turns on pollution controls when it senses that a vehicle is in testing condition. Because of this mechanism, the vehicle emits lower levels of air pollution while in the lab. However, once it is brought out on the roads for real-world driving, the vehicle reverts to its usual, emitting high levels of NOx emissions. 

The Volkswagen Group (through thousands of Audi and VW diesel models) was the first carmaker to have been allegedly caught violating emissions regulations using defeat devices. Other manufacturers that also allegedly used the illegal device include Mercedes-Benz and its parent company Daimler, BMW, Renault, and Nissan.

Government tests

The ICCT specified some of the models in the EU and UK with excess emissions: Nissan Qashqai, Renault Clio, VW’s Tiguan and Passat, and Ford Focus under Euro 5 standards.

Aside from government tests, the ICCT also studied real-world vehicle emissions’ roadside measurements and independent measurements collected by attaching equipment to vehicle exhausts. 

John German of the ICCT wrote in 2016 about how the issue of using defeat devices is more than just about Volkswagen installing the software on their diesel vehicles. It is about governments taking heed and strictly implementing solutions. The public (not just the carmakers and drivers) also needs to fully understand why defeat devices are illegal.

The CJEU – Court of Justice of the European Union helped in this aspect as it recently laid down four rules that clearly described what an illegal defeat device is. 

Specific numbers

The ICCT placed the estimates of unique vehicle models that might be equipped with illegal defeat devices at more than 200. The total number of diesel vehicles throughout the UK and EU sold under the pre-RDE Euro 6 and Euro 5 standards is about 53 million. Of these, 24 million exhibited signs of suspicious emissions. Of the 24 million, around 16.3 million are estimated to have emitted unlawful emission levels. 

With the help of their ROADMAP model, the ICCT has identified 19.1 million diesel vehicles that exhibited suspicious emissions, with 13 million showing evidence of excessive NOx emissions. 

What is NOx?

When Volkswagen and the other carmakers involved in the diesel emissions scandal fitted their vehicles with defeat devices, they exposed millions of drivers to nitrogen oxides (NOx).

NOx is a group of reactive gases that became the centre of attention during the 2015 Dieselgate scandal. It has adverse impacts on the environment and can destroy lives. Its main components are nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO).

Reacting to other elements, NOx produces acid rain, smog, and ground-level ozone. This type of ozone is a pollutant that weakens and destroys vegetation.

Anyone exposed to NOx emissions will be hounded by numerous health impacts, the common ones being asthma, pulmonary oedema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (or COPD). Cognitive health may be affected as well, resulting in an increased risk of developing dementia. 

Another common effect of exposure to nitrogen oxide emissions is heightened susceptibility to depression, anxiety, and other mental health-related issues.

Serious health impacts can lead to lifestyle changes. In some cases, they may even shorten lives:

  • Laryngospasm (when your vocal cords suddenly contract and your airway is locked)
  • Asphyxiation (when your body has a deficient oxygen supply)
  • Cancer (especially in the lungs)
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Premature death

Over the years, air pollution (specifically NOx) has become the leading cause of premature deaths worldwide. It has overtaken cigarette smoking, drug and alcohol use, and HIV and AIDS. 

Carmakers involved in the diesel emissions scandal are accused of putting more importance on profit than protecting their customers from the adverse effects of NOx. They also lied to drivers when they sold the vehicles are high-performing and safe. Filing a diesel claim against these carmakers is the best way to hold them responsible for their unlawful acts.

What’s my diesel claim all about?

Your diesel claim represents your legal right as a car owner/driver who was misled into buying a life-damaging vehicle. If you win the claims case, you can receive compensation in thousands from your carmaker. First, though, you need to verify if you are eligible to file an emission claim.

Visit and get all the details you need to verify your right to receive compensation. Once done, find an emissions expert to help you decide whether to file an individual claim or join a Group Litigation Order (GLO).

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