A new EU vehicle testing system aimed at preventing any repeat of the VW emissions scandal has been unveiled by West Midlands MEP Dan Dalton. Mr Dalton's report, presented to the European Parliament's Internal Market Committee today, proposes a rigorous programme of assessment and market surveillance by individual countries to be policed by other countries through peer review. The European Commission would oversee the process, checking the performance of national authorities every three years and having the power to take action against those that do not meet the required standards.
"The goal is simple; to make sure that Volkswagen does not happen again," Mr Dalton said. "We need to get market surveillance right and I believe national bodies need to do it under threat of action from the Commission if they take their eye off the ball." The EU is adopting a two pronged approach to tacking the issues raised by the admission by VW that it used defeat devices to skew the laboratory emissions tests performed on its cars.
From 2020 a new system of Real Driving Emission (RDE) tests will be introduced. Already approved by the European Parliament, these will see new cars tested under road conditions. Mr Dalton's market surveillance proposals form the second plank and cover the continuing testing of cars. Although this currently takes place, its application is patchy across the EU. He said: "This is important. Market surveillance ensures that what a vehicle does in its initial RDE test is still replicated three or four years into a car's life. If it isn't, the car should be off the road.
"Done properly, and combined with the new RDE tests, it will guarantee that manufacturers play by the rules and help restore consumer confidence." The report calls for any fines imposed on manufacturers for breaching regulations to be used to compensate consumers and mitigate environmental damage, rather going into the Commission's coffers. The Commission had proposed carrying out market surveillance itself alongside national authorities, but West Midlands MEP Mr Dalton is sceptical this would work.
"I am not sure how that would make the system any better," he said. "It would mean the Commission doing a little bit of market surveillance but nowhere near enough to really do the job. Yet by doing so it would give national authorities an excuse not to do their share, so in reality you might have even less testing than takes place at the moment."
Mr Dalton's report also introduces new criteria that manufacturers must meet, including the sharing of vehicle data with garages other than dealerships so motorists continue to have a choice of where to have their cars repaired.
The Committee is expected to vote on the report at the end of November.