Environmental Impact

We all know VW have been misleading in terms of their Audi diesel car emissions. The Audis in question appear much less polluting during emissions testing than they actually were on the road. The US Environmental Agency (EPA) discovered that VW made cars, including Audis, that were actually emitting up to 40 times more toxic chemicals than they were allowed to in the US.

NOx emissions

The result is that far more toxic NOx emissions have been released into the air in towns and cities across the world than was believed. Some scientists have estimated up to 1m extra tonnes more of these noxious gases could have been produced every year than was initially believed.

The affected Audis had a 'defeat device' installed in them that meant that the car knows when it is being tested. In such conditions, the cars would alter their natural behaviour. The 'clean' diesel engines would then use every trick they had up their sleeve to reduce the harmful NOx emissions, using methods such as adjusting air fuel ratios and exhaust flows. Some Audis even injected a solution which turns NOx chemicals into harmless ones. However, when running normally, these functions would not take effect in the same way, or at least, not to the same extent.

The technical data

The International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), carried out independent on-road emissions tests on certain VW models that produced alarmingly different results than VW (who make Audis) had claimed. The results were so glaringly different, the ICCT ran more tests using the conventional emissions testing procedures, that the cars had apparently passed in the first place.

They soon realised that how these VWs were performing on the road was radically different to how they performed in the lab. In the graph below, the blue bars illustrate the amount of NOx emissions being produced during the 'on the road' testing, and the barely visible red bars indicate the amount of NOx emissions apparently being produced in the official tests.

The results:

VW Emissions

The effect of all this

Making sense of all this technical data can be a bit confusing, however the impact will be felt all too clearly by people around the world. NOx fumes cause inflammation of the airways and worsen breathing for everybody, particularly in urban environments. NOx emissions may also combine and react with other polutants to cause even more severe respiratory problems and even exacerbate heart problems. Long-term increased exposure to NOx fumes results in significant numbers of premature deaths around the globe.

Not only have Audi and their owners failed consumers in terms of misleading them, and claiming their cars were cleaner than they were, they have also potentially aggravated the health problems already caused by pollution around the world.