Will the VW emissions scandal affect commercial vehicles?

As Volkswagen announces that its product recall will begin in 2016 concern is growing about how big this scandal might become. We ask whether trucks and other commercial vehicles will become embroiled in Emissionsgate.

Volkswagen rusting after the emissions scandalVolkswagen, Europe’s largest carmaker has been at the centre of a huge diesel emissions scandal for more than two weeks.

Today, the company’s new chief executive Matthias Mueller said that the recall of affected vehicles would begin in January and finish before the end of 2016.

The news follows a statement yesterday in which the German car giant warned that coming changes “would not be painless” and that future investment in the company would be put “under scrutiny”.

They say that the emissions test-cheating software is installed in 11 million of their diesel vehicles including VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat branded cars.

The scale of the scandal

The true scale of the scandal is so far unknown. Workshops up and down the country have been brought alive with murmurs that other cars might yet be implicated in the scandal.

Last week, the Daily Mail reported that an official tester found emissions discrepancies with a number of other major car manufacturers.

The SMMT has also acknowledged that the current methods of testing are outdated and suggested that new emissions tests are needed.

While other manufacturers might not have the so called ‘defeat-device’ installed. It is apparent that all is not quite what it seems when it comes to vehicle emissions.

Truck emissions

One area of concern, particularly for the trucking and haulage industry is whether HGVs will be implicated.

After all, these large and predominantly diesel powered vehicles are under a lot of pressure to meet strict environmental targets, especially in EU countries where the laws around emissions are stricter.

HGV drivers and fleet operators also worry about the costs associated with a product recall.

If, like the VW cars, the trucks need to be sent back to a factory then a driver could be left without work for weeks.

Thankfully for the haulage industry, it seems unlikely that the major truck manufacturers will be implicated in the scandal.

This owes to the fact that Euro-6 legislation tightened up differences observed in laboratory and real world conditions.

NOx in testing vs NOx in the real world

One of the issues in the Volkswagen case was that the conditions of testing bore little resemblance to the way people actually drive in the real world.

Instead of quickly accelerating and decelerating as you might do if you were driving around a city, emissions tests require cars to speed up slowly. Under these conditions, less harmful emissions like nitrous oxides (NOx) meaning that a vehicle has a better chance of passing.

Euro-6 legislation which sets the emissions requirements for new trucks operating in the EU has recently been tightened to make it harder for high-emitting trucks to pass.

A report from Transport for London which was released last month found that NOx levels in particular had been brought under control with the new legislation.

The tougher legislation and stricter testing regimes suggest that trucks will have a harder time cheating their emissions tests.

We are confident that trucks and other large commercial vehicles will not be implicated in the ongoing emissions scandal.