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Motor manufacturers urged to back independent vehicle emissions testing

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A new global campaign group is urging motor manufacturers and city policymakers to back their independent vehicle emissions testing system.

The AIR (Allow Independent Road-testing) system awards each car a simple A-H rating that helps consumers decide which car to buy by giving them “the truth about emissions.”

It uses emissions data from a rigorous 4-hour on-road rest – carried out under “real-world” conditions – to decide the rating.

AIR say that the system, which they liken to EU Ecolabelling for refrigerators and white goods, is the “only way to achieve immediate improvements in air pollution.”

vehicles on London streetExperts say there is a need for accurate and independent data in order to evaluate the impact of vehicle emissions on public health in towns and cities. Image: London pixabay-1932154

Address air quality

The aim of AIR is to “reduce the harmful effects of vehicle emissions on air quality and climate change, as well as immediately address the diesel NOx crisis.”

The VW testing scandal highlighted the problem of leaving it up to the manufacturers to carry out their own emissions tests.

The European Union have come up with a solution, called the Real Driving Emissions (RDE) rules, which are based on “real-world” testing and not on tests carried out in manufacturers’ own laboratories.

However, AIR argue that, while they are “more stringent,” the EU RDE rules do not go far enough because they are not independent. The manufacturer is still involved, either directly or indirectly.

Another problem with the RDE rules is that they will only have an impact in the longer terms. And AIR suggest that because of inconsistent data, other schemes that have been put forward could result in older, cleaner cars being banned in favour of new, more polluting models.


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Need for ‘accurate and independent data’

Their system is the first worldwide one that can claim to have an “immediate, comparable, accessible, independent and standardized” approach” say AIR.

The radical scheme would “drive car manufacturers to use the best available technology and help cities to develop evidence-based policies to improve air quality,” says Marc Stettler, a lecturer at the Center for Transport Studies at Imperial College London, and member of AIR’s Scientific Advisory Committee.

Stettler says as a researcher he thinks it is important to have “accurate and independent data so we can evaluate the impacts of vehicle emissions on public health in our towns and cities.”

AIR is a public-private alliance whose membership is open to individuals and groups that want to see “direct and immediate action to reduce the harmful effects of vehicle emissions on air quality and climate change.”

It was started by Nick Molden, who founded the UK-based car-testing firm Emissions Analytics (EA), and automotive industry expert Massimo Fedeli, of Fair Play Consulting.


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Already in use in London

EA’s system is already in use in London, where mayor Sadiq Khan is keen to address the air pollution problem with accurate, reliable tools to measure vehicle emissions.

More than 1,500 different car models have already been tested, over 1,000 in Europe.

Molden says that “AIR is making an existing testing and rating system and its extensive ratings data freely
available.”

You can view the air quality results (Equa Aq for nitrous oxides, NOx) for the cars already tested on the equaindex site.

Video – The Allow Independent Road-testing (AIR) alliance

The following video explains the AIR campaign, its aims, and how the testing scheme works.