The Bumpy Ride Towards Real Driving Emissions
Since Diesel Gate broke in 2015, vehicle emissions have been a topic of ongoing concern. News coverage shows that manufacturers continue to face legal cases, fines, vehicle recalls and threats to suspend or withdraw type approvals. At the same time, more and more cities across Europe are taking local measures to tackle urban traffic pollution, including vehicle bans and Low Emission Zones.
Three European capitals contested the introduction of the so-called ‘conformity factors’, which were introduced in 2016 and were supposed to account for the difference between vehicle emissions measured in real driving conditions and those measured in the laboratory. As such, conformity factors are used to assess compliance of vehicles with applicable emission limits in Real Driving Emissions tests.
In 2018, the European Court of Justice concluded that the conformity factors ‘de facto’ modify the limit values for NOx and allow higher levels of emissions in practice. As only the co-legislators could amend such an essential element of the legislation, the conformity factors were annulled by a judgement of the Court. The Commission responded in 2019 by adopting a legislative proposal to the co-legislators re-instating the contested conformity factors.