Almost All European Diesel Cars Are Dirty, New Study Finds

"A striking confirmation of the worst fears."

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Getty ImagesSean Gallup

A new emissions study based on testing methods that are supposedly "difficult-to-impossible to cheat" has revealed that even the latest models of European diesel cars are bad polluters. The first such analysis since the 2015 Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, the results show more than 4,000 vehicle models exceeding nitrogen oxides (NOx) levels set by the European Union.

The new rating system is known as (TRUE). With a data set of 375,000 individual cars from across Europe, TRUE uses a beam of light to study a car's exhaust plume.

European cars are broken into numbered groups based on emission standards. All vehicles classified under Euro 3, 4, and 5 diesel levels—motorcylces and older model standard cars—showed "poor" markings for NOx levels. Perhaps more surprising was that newer cars, classified under more recent Euro 6 emission standards, also failed. Nearly every Euro 6 car got a "poor" marking, that the vehicle produces more than 180 mg/km of NOx. A few showed "moderate" markings as well. No diesel car was found to be given a "good" rating.

The results are "a striking confirmation of [the] worst fears about diesel cars” the International Council on Clean Transportation, an American non-profit which ran the tests, per the Financial Times. However, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) called the results "misleading," saying that the study does not take into account the newest models, which claim to adhere to future Euro6d standards and will come out in 2019.

“As all cars tested as part of this TRUE Initiative were pre-Euro 6d vehicles, the fact that they do not meet emissions requirements that only became mandatory after they were put on the market is not surprising,” ACEA secretary general Erik Jonnaer, per British site Autocar.

The NGO Transport & Environment, which examines the connection between transportation and health, compared the results to the 2015 Volkswagen "dieselgate" scandal. That year, the German carmaker was revealed to be rigging their diesel cars to pass emissions tests while polluting more on the road. The 2015 scandal was a massive hit to years of cultivating diesel engines as efficient machines.

The new rating "exposes the legacy of dieselgate – tens of millions of dirty diesels that are still on the roads producing the toxic smog we daily breathe. It identifies the worst performing models and regulators must act to require carmakers to clean these up,” T&E's Greg Archer, per The Guardian.

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