Germany and Italy Oppose Stiffer European Car Approval Rules

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
germany and italy oppose stiffer european car approval rules

Italy and Germany are opposing attempts to give the European Union more authority over the way national car regulators approve new cars for sale. As wild as it is to learn that Germany is standing in the way of stricter automotive regulation and oversight, allow us to assure you that you’ve not misread the above statement. For some reason, Deutschland doesn’t want to see enhanced industry surveillance.

Our best guess is that the opposition has something to do with Volkswagen Group’s diesel crisis, recent concerns that BMW may have utilized a “shut off” device that masked NOx emissions, and the ongoing investigation into a German automotive cartel that may have operated for decades. But there’s also a chance these automakers simply don’t want to deal with the red tape that comes along with piling on government oversight.

According to Reuters, Germany’s official stance opposes inspections because “any kind of audit means extra bureaucracy without being beneficial.”

However, European Union Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska told the outlet, “We need more quality and independence in the system, more checks of cars already in circulation, and European oversight,” adding that she was optimistic an agreement finally seems within reach.

The EU documents seen by Reuters show lawmakers want the Commission to be able to carry out routine audits of national car approval authorities. While some member states — like France — support two days of verification every five years, Italy and seven other nations are requesting conditions that would weaken the Commission’s oversight power. Obviously, Germany is the biggest fish among them.

One of the biggest issues surrounding the new rules is the possible expansion of on-road emission tests each country is obligated to conduct. After all, those were the types of tests that caught Volkswagen cheating in 2015 and may have also uncovered something similar with BMW this year. However, additional research needs to be done before BMW can be indicted for anything. At present, the company has dismissed the allegations as a smear campaign, claiming the manufacturer would fight any accusations to the contrary.

Still, even if BMW has done nothing wrong, the paranoia that another emissions crisis is just around the corner remains palpable. “It boils down to: do we want the Commission to put its nose in the affairs of the national type-approval authorities?” an unnamed diplomat told Reuters. “After Dieselgate, it’s hard to say no.”

A recent draft compromise has proposed member states conduct checks on one in every 40,000 new vehicles registered; 20 percent of those must include emissions tests. It’s actually less than what the European Parliament originally requested, and environmental groups have criticized the proposal for being more lax than the current U.S. standards.

The European Union also gave up on the Commission’s attempt to stop automakers from using paid laboratories for vehicle testing. Instead, they wanted to implement a system where labs were contracted by the state in hopes they would be more objective. However, the existing draft does include measures allowing the EU to issue continent-wide recalls of suspect automobiles.

[Image: University of West Virginia]

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4 of 11 comments
  • Dukeisduke Dukeisduke on Dec 06, 2017

    It's funny that they're testing emissions in the photo, and there's a Honda generator with its own tailpipe, generating its own emissions (along with electricity).

    • See 1 previous
    • Jack Denver Jack Denver on Dec 07, 2017

      The U. of W. Virginia is not exactly rolling in dough and they jury rigged their mobile testing machine out of equipment that was designed to be stationary and plugged into house current - thus the Honda generator. I hope that the EPA gives some of the billions in fines that VW is going to pay to U.W.Va. to fund their future work. The EPA with all their billions ($8 billion/year) should have figured this out years ago. Testing the cars on a fixed cycle on a dyno instead of testing them under real world conditions was asking for trouble.

  • Dane61 Dane61 on Dec 07, 2017

    It's West Virginia University, not the University of West Virginia. Different entities.

  • Jim Bonham Thanks.
  • Luke42 I just bought a 3-row Tesla Model Y.If Toyota made a similar vehicle, I would have bought that instead. I'm former Prius owner, and would have bought a Prius-like EV if it were available.Toyota hasn't tried to compete with the Model Y. GM made the Bolt EUV, and Ford made the Mach-E. Tesla beat them all fair and square, but Toyota didn't even try.[Shrug]
  • RHD Toyota is trying to hedge their bets, and have something for everyone. They also may be farther behind in developing electric vehicles than they care to admit. Japanese corporations sometimes come up with cutting-edge products, such as the Sony Walkman. Large corporations (and not just Japanese corporations) tend to be like GM, though - too many voices just don't get heard, to the long-term detriment of the entity.
  • Randy in rocklin The Japanese can be so smart and yet so dumb. I'm America-Japanese and they really can be dumb sometimes like their masking paranoia.
  • Bunkie The Flying Flea has a fascinating story and served, inadvertently, to broaden the understanding of aircraft design. The crash described in the article is only part of the tale.