German Environmental Group Claims Renault Van Pollutes Up To 25 Times Euro Limit

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

A German environmental group said Tuesday that its testing has revealed Renault’s Espace, when equipped with a 1.6-liter diesel engine, could emit up to 25 times the allowable limit of nitrogen oxides with a warm engine running on roads — or you know, the real world.

According to the New York Times, the Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH) didn’t directly accuse Renault of including cheating software in its cars — a la Volkswagen — but said the van polluted significantly less when the engine was cold. The results could show the schism between European testing standards — where tires can be over-inflated, doors taped up, batteries disconnected, seats removed — and real-world conditions.

Renault said in a statement Tuesday that its van complied with regulations and that tests done by researchers at the University of Bern “are not all compliant with European regulations.”

According to researchers, Renault’s van was selected because researchers at the International Council for Clean Transportation said in September that the car was particularly prolific in polluting with “frighteningly high real emissions.

“In our investigations, a certain pattern showed. Only when it has been prepared in a very specific form … (it) passed this with flying colors. Any deviations in the preconditioning or testing … led to diesel exhaust values ​​that we have never measured at this level,” Jürgen Resch, Federal Managing Director of the DUH, said in a statement.

Last month, the German group said the Opel Zafira polluted up to 17 times more nitrogen oxides than allowed by European limits. General Motors denied the claim and said its car complied with regulations when tested by Germany’s TUV certification group.

“It’s unbelievable that so-called modern diesel vehicles that damage the air we breathe in this way are on the road today,” ICCT co-founder Axel Friedrich said in a statement, according to Reuters.

In its testing, the ICCT claimed that Renault, Volvo and Hyundai produced diesel engines that very likely would fail real-world tests, although none of those vehicles are on sale in the U.S. Audi and BMW both produced cars that qualified as “poor” according to the ICCT and would have difficulty passing real-world testing.

In its statement announcing the Renault results, the DUH called for a near-ban on all diesel cars, including Volkswagen’s 3-liter engine that the automaker admitted uses three auxiliary emissions control devices to alter pollution levels.

“It begs the question, what lessons have the German inspection authorities about this … software, which is obviously at VW, Audi and Porsche also in use in Europe,” Resch said in a statement. “Measurements of (an) Audi A8 sedan by our umbrella organization T & E showed the NOx limit value was exceeded by almost 22 times on the road … (it’s) thus one of the dirtiest Euro 6 diesel cars at all.”

A car dealer in Germany was asked by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung if he’d further discount Volkswagen diesel cars because those cars specifically cheated emissions rules. “The people know well that all producers cheat on the Diesel test,” he replied.

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3 of 11 comments
  • Sector 5 Sector 5 on Nov 25, 2015

    A pressure tactic between the French & German government.

  • Chuckrs Chuckrs on Nov 25, 2015

    It would be worthwhile to review the mandated NOx limits through time to compare the actual amounts, from unregulated to current status. (Hint) I can't find it (actually haven't invested the time), but I thought that the latest reductions to 0.07 and 0.05 gr/mile represented a 99%+ reduction from unregulated. That being so, 10X the allowed emissions would put us back in the bad old days of 2008 and before. How bad was that?

    • Pch101 Pch101 on Nov 25, 2015

      "That being so, 10X the allowed emissions would put us back in the bad old days of 2008 and before." Not at all. You are confusing quite a few things.

  • Gabe Awesome. Owners can cook their DNA with EMFs while watching YouTube now.
  • Cardave5150 Why oh why are they resurrecting the ZDX name??? It’s not like the last one was anything other than an overpriced freak show. Just use 3 other random letters!
  • Gemcitytm Why does it seem every EV seems to have ridiculous amounts of power? Yes, I know they're heavier than ICE models but who on earth needs 708 HP? How about a nice, compact EV with, say, 250 HP and 350-400 mile range? Is that impossible with today's tech? (I currently drive a 148 HP Mazda 3 ICE and it has all the get-up-and-go I need.)
  • CEastwood I could have bought one of these if I had the cash in 76 for $1000 white , red interior , 3 speed stick with whitewalls/ wire hubcaps - it was mint and gone a day after I saw it . But the real catch that got away was an all original 69 green Camaro RS convertible 327 4 speed with 46K on the clock for 1800 that I saw a few months earlier . Young and poor was not a fun place to be !
  • KOKing I'm in an emissions check only state, and I'd trade that away for a safety check all day.