Cars – are we going in the right direction?

Should we expect from big international automobile companies responsibility for protection of the Earth environment? It’s a well known fact that car industry is one of the fatal causes of the air pollution. It is estimated that about 30% of all CO2 and nitrogen oxide in the atmosphere comes form cars alone. What is worse more than 75% of carbon monoxide pollution only in the US is caused by cars. It concerns the processes of production, shipment of components or assembled cars from one continent to the other as well as the mere usage of the final product by millions of people around the world.

Governments have established regulations to reduce deadly emissions from the cars’ exhausts for years.  Manufactures have assured us that their cars are becoming cleaner, more advanced environment friendly. New models one by one passed more and more severe laboratory measurements test of NOx emissions. Everything seemed to work perfectly. Politicians were pleased because their regulations had reduced official numbers of toxic air pollution. Car industry marketing departments could have produced millions of brochures informing about engineering mastery of their products which not only follow strict anti pollution regulations but also at the same time consume less fuel  and are more powerful.

The idyl ended September 2015 when the Volkswagen emission scandal broke out. The US Environmental Protection Agency informed that the German automaker VW Group violated The Clean Air Act by programming their diesel engines to activate emission controls only during laboratory emission tests. It was discovered that VW diesels emitted up to  40 times more NOx in real driving conditions. The VW used the cheating device in eleven millions cars using diesel engines. The problem concerns such brands as Audi, Skoda, Volkswagen, Seat and Porsche. The numbers and the worldwide range of the diesel scandal suggests that it was a well prepared and organised criminal conspiracy to avoid strict anti pollution laws.

What are the consequences and what shall we learn from that lesson? From one perspective, the VW group is still one of the biggest car makers in the world. The majority of Germans  (55%) still trust Volkswagen. In such countries like Poland Volkswagen manages to increase sales up to 30% in 2017. On the other hand, the sales of cars with diesel engine have dropped. Many European cities have announced that diesel cars will not be allowed to enter city centres. New european data have revealed that after real road tests modern diesel cars produce ten times more toxic air pollution than heavy trucks and buses. The change to the testing car regime is due to start soon with portable mobile devices for emissions measurement. The development of alternative ways to power cars is in progress. Hybrids and electric cars are continually winning clients’ attention. Future looks bright, however we need to be cautious. Although it looks like the situation is improving, we need to make sure that it is not just an illusion.

 

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