Car manufacturer BMW has attempted to distance itself from the scandal which has engulfed German company Volkswagen and rocked the automotive industry as a whole. In a statement released by BMW, they said that the allegations of rigging emissions tests did not apply to them and that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the body which was responsible for discovering VW’s transgressions, had not been in contact with them.
A Conclusive Statement
Earlier this week, news agency Reuters reported that BMW had released a statement reiterating their innocence in the scandal. “We have made our vehicles available. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has tested them. We have not received any indications one way or the other,” explained a spokesman for the company, in response to a question about how BMW had performed on the notorious tests. “There have been no talks with the EPA.”
Clearly, BMW fear being dragged into the saga that has cost VW tens of billions of pounds in recalling models and paying penalties, both to the EPA and the EU – as well as untold damage in terms of the reputation they have cultivated over the years.
Back in September, the media implied that it was highly unlikely VW were operating alone in their manipulation of the tests, although no further confessions or condemnations have been forthcoming in the ensuing weeks. In any case, VW’s willingness to cheat emissions tests, achieve artificially lower results and thus endanger the population of the world are a horrifying revelation, especially in a world that is increasingly preoccupied with improving air quality and reducing transport-related pollution.
A Scandal that Could Cost more than Money
Though the hit to VW’s reputation may be irreparable, of more concern is the danger posed to the air we breathe. Health experts argue that the posited figure of 30,000 British deaths due to air pollution must be way off the mark when the amount of nitrogen oxide (NOx) in the air is taken into account.
The integration of local and international meteorological data with roadside and boundary air monitoring applications has demonstrated that the levels of harmful pollutants in our atmosphere have not dropped over recent years, despite increasingly stringent measures being introduced by the EU to try and combat them. The latest standard, the Euro 6, has forced all diesel vehicles to contribute significantly fewer pollutants to our atmosphere – but the VW scandal and the hundreds of thousands (perhaps even millions) of cars it will affect clearly shows that such standards mean little in the real world.
“The widespread mismatch between real-world emissions and those being reported by manufacturers when new vehicles take tests in labs is a very serious problem,” explained Professor Alex Lewis, who is a professor at the Department of Atmospheric Chemistry at the University of York in England.
“Volkswagen seems unlikely to be the only manufacturer attempting to game their emissions in this sort of way. The lack of improvement in European air quality in city centres, particularly for NO2, can be traced back to these inaccurate figures. This will translate directly through into reduced public health and increased mortality.”
For the time being at least, it appears that BMW are not involved in the scandal and that VW are the only current guilty party – whether they will continue to shoulder the burden of culpability alone, remains to be seen. In the meantime, our air continues to be polluted.