The great VW scandal

Volkswagen’s emissions scandal has dominated the news in recent months.

The German car giant admitted that around 11 million cars worldwide had been fitted with a "defeat device" that had the ability to change the cars performance during testing. More than eight million of their diesel cars across Europe are set to be recalled, including all of the 1.2m affected in the UK.

Being VW experts, Nigel from Automotive Engineering has spent a lot of time reading up on the subject and thought it might be useful to give his take on what’s happened.

"In my opinion they were forced into this because of the strict European emission legislation," he said.

Environmental campaigners have long argued that emissions rules are being cheated and most believe that Volkswagen aren’t the only culprits of the ‘diesel dupe’.

Nigel wouldn’t comment on whether he thought that was true, but he does think the way to improving emissions is by focusing on improving the quality of fuels.

"If fuels were improved it would improve emissions, it would cost more, but surely the benefits would outweigh the costs?" he said.

Many of VW’s models were found to be cheating emissions tests in the US after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered they were being sold with a performance altering device.

The VW-manufactured Audi A3 was also affected, and the EPA believe that some of the three litre diesel engines fitted to some Porsche and Audi’s may have been fitted with the illegal system.

To add a further insult to injury VW announced it had found "irregularities" in tests that measure the carbon dioxide emissions levels, which could also affect petrol vehicles.

Having posted their first quarterly loss for 15 years of just under £1.8bn following the scandal, they have had to set aside a further £4.8bn to cover the potential following damage costs.

However, the financial damage could be even worse than expected, as the EPA has the power to fine up to £37,500 for each vehicle that breaches standards.

But the scandal hasn’t had an impact on their sales, with VW declaring a 0.24% increase in cars sold during October in the US.

European emission standards state that diesel passenger cars manufactured since September 2014 must adhere to the Euro 6 standard of no more than 0.08 NOx per G/KM. The strict rules are in place to meet air quality standards, namely in urban areas, and to protect human health. Diesel engine manufacturers appear to be struggling to produce engines capable of meeting the acceptable limits and have ultimately been forced into cutting corners.