Given the current air pollution levels and the number of people who have fallen ill or died due to toxic air, one would think that carmakers have finally understood the repercussions of their actions in the Dieselgate diesel emissions scandal. This doesn’t seem to be the case, though, as several of the world’s most popular vehicle manufacturers have decided to 400 million more petrol and diesel-powered cars.

A study conducted by researchers from the University of Technology Sydney, Greenpeace Germany, and the University of Applied Sciences of the Industry (Germany) showed that 400 million is at least five times more than the vehicles that were sold around the world in 2021. This makes the goal of keeping global warming below 1.5C difficult (or almost impossible) to achieve.

Global brands Toyota, Hyundai-Kia, General Motors, and Volkswagen are expected to go over the 1.5C Paris climate agreement target:

  • Toyota by 63 million ICE vehicles
  • Hyundai-Kia by 39 million
  • General Motors by 13 million ICE vehicles
  • Volkswagen by 43 million

Sales projections for these internal combustion engine-powered vehicles are estimated at 645 million to around 778 million, which is at least 105% to 147% more than the 1.5C-compatible vehicle sales. The carbon budget allows additional ICE sales of only 315 million for 2022.

While other carmakers are actively moving towards a petrol and diesel-free fleet, the four manufacturers listed above are expected to build more ICE vehicles. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volvo have been working on their electric vehicles. The BMW Group’s goal is to completely shift to EVs by 2030. They also envision their Rolls-Royce and MINI customers enjoying the benefits of an all-EV fleet in the early 2030s.

Commenting on the research, co-author and UTS associate professor Sven Teske stressed the importance of strictly implementing a global ban on the sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles after 2030. According to him, by 2030, the automotive market shall carry only electric vehicles.

Greenpeace Germany climate campaigner Benjamin Stephan said that the slow transition to zero-emission vehicles of some carmakers will endanger the planet. Even if governments have intensified their campaign against the climate crisis, reaching the zero-emissions goal will still take time if carmakers do not do their part. ICE technology investments must be phased out right away.

It was also suggested for governments to stop providing subsidies for fossil fuels and petrol and diesel vehicles.

In Europe, the sale of new petrol and diesel-powered vehicles will be banned starting in 2035.

Emissions from diesel vehicles

Diesel-powered vehicles used to be favoured by the majority. This changed after the Volkswagen Group was caught using defeat devices in Audi and VW vehicles sold in the US. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board alleged that the carmaker used the devices to cheat emissions tests.

A defeat device can tell when a vehicle is being tested. It activates and, during the entirety of such a test, temporarily caps emissions levels to within WHO-regulated limits, making the vehicle appear emissions-compliant.

Once you take out the vehicle and drive it on real roads, the story changes. Since the vehicle’s defeat device is turned off, it reverts to using its default settings. The vehicle emits nitrogen oxide or NOx in massive volumes. NOx is a highly reactive gas that has adverse effects on people and the environment.

Volkswagen initially denied any knowledge of the defeat devices. Later, however, they retracted their statement and admitted that they knew their vehicles were fitted with cheat software. This incident became known as the Dieselgate scandal.

After VW, other car manufacturers were also implicated in the diesel emissions scandal. Mercedes-Benz was caught a few years after the scam first broke. Like the VW case, US authorities were the ones who found the devices in Mercedes diesel vehicles.

On the part of BMW, allegations first surfaced when they were caught in a secret cartel with Volkswagen and Daimler (Mercedes’ parent company) colluding on delaying new technology for clean emissions. While investigations were ongoing in 2019, their headquarters was raided in connection to defeat device allegations. Cheat software was found in around 11,400 BMW diesel vehicles, and the carmaker said they were installed by mistake.

Other manufacturers involved in the scandal include Renault, Nissan, Alfa Romeo, and Peugeot.

NOx emissions are life-threatening

If you have a BMW or any of the diesel vehicles involved in the diesel emissions scandal, you were lied to by your carmaker. You have the right to bring an emissions claim against them. BMW and other manufacturers should also be held responsible for exposing you and the people around you to dangerous NOx emissions.

With nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitric oxide (NO) as primary components, NOx has life-threatening impacts.

  • It produces ground-level ozone, which can damage vegetation, particularly crops and plants
  • It reduces your cognitive abilities, so you are at risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia
  • It triggers frequent episodes of anxiety and depression
  • Its health impacts can be mild or serious: asthma and respiratory illnesses, breathing difficulties, cardiovascular diseases, and premature death.

BMW should be held to account for their actions. Make a BMW emissions claim against them but get in touch with first to find out if you are eligible to make one.

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