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Car emissions inquiry continues with Fiat-Chrysler

The inquiry committee into emission measurements in the car industry (EMIS) continued its work on Monday afternoon by hearing Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Chief Technical Officer Harald Wester, who was quizzed mainly on possible “defeat devices” in Fiat diesel engines and gap between emission values in laboratory testing and real driving conditions.

The main issue at the hearing was a recent claim by the German type-approval authorities that Fiat Chrysler is using a “defeat device” in one of its diesel models to switch off exhaust treatment systems after 22 minutes, knowing that the standard type approval test takes about 20 minutes.

Mr Wester said in his introduction that he could not comment on the details of a matter which is subject to mediation and litigation, but nonetheless stressed that the car model in question meets emission standards in the test and does not detect that it is being tested. He also denied that the car’s software “switches off” the emissions control system - according to him it is just “modulated” to protect the engine.

EMIS members nonetheless requested more details, because EU legislation explicitly forbids so called “defeat devices”, even though it does allow an exemption in specific circumstances, which, according to Fiat Chrysler, justify the “modulation” of emissions control. After several repeated exchanges between Mr Wester and members of various political groups on technical and legal definitions, their positions remained opposed.

On questions about tests in France, which showed that emissions were up to 15 times greater than claimed by the manufacturer, Mr Wester said that to explain this, he would need to have more data about the test conditions. He also agreed with some members that EU legislation on car emissions should be harmonised with that of the USA, which is stricter, or even standardised worldwide.

The hearing on Monday concluded the hearings of car manufacturers’ representatives and technical experts on emissions. Further hearings will focus on member states’ authorities and their role in implementing EU legislation on clean air and car emission limits. On Thursday morning, the Committee will hear Alexander Dobrindt, the German Federal Minister of Transport and Olaf Lies, Lower Saxony’s State Minister for the Economy.


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