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Unlimited fines for vehicle emissions cheats

Carmakers using so-called defeat devices to cheat emissions tests could face unlimited fines under new proposals.

Carmakers could face "unlimited" fines for using defeat-device technology to trick emissions testing

Carmakers could face “unlimited” fines for using defeat-device technology to trick emissions testing

Part of a new consultation launched today the plans moot the creation of a new offence of supplying a vehicle using a defeat device, or other similar functionality, to deliberately circumvent type approval regulations, irrespective of which national authority is used to obtain type approval.

Companies responsible – including the manufacturer, importer or dealer/ distributor – could face criminal charges and a substantial fine for selling new vehicles fitted with defeat devices.

The plans follow ongoing calls for the Government to take action following the Volkswagen emissions scandal, which affected more than 1.2 million vehicles in the UK.

Transport Minister Jesse Norman said: “We continue to take the unacceptable actions of Volkswagen extremely seriously, and we are framing new measures to crack down on emissions cheats in future.

“Those who cheat should be held to proper account in this country, legally and financially, for their actions.”

The proposals on defeat devices would not extend to consumers purchasing vehicles or selling them second hand but the DfT has separately restated that it is an offence for drivers to modify their vehicles emissions, with potential penalties of £1,000 for a car and £2,500 for a van, lorry or bus, following ongoing reports of drivers making use of DPF removal services.

The DfT plans also cover changes to vehicle approval and call for views on how the field of vehicle regulations should look after the UK leaves the EU, and how to manage the transition. This follows comments from British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) chief executive Gerry Keaney that it will be hard to extract the UK from the EU regulatory environment, as it affects vehicle standards, CO2, NOx and particulate emission levels.

The proposals on defeat devices were greeted by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Pointing to a Vehicle Emissions Testing Programme set up following the VW emissions scandal to test a range of the most popular diesel vehicles in the UK – which found no evidence of defeat devices being used elsewhere, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Government’s own testing of vehicles on the road has consistently shown them to be fully compliant, and we are pleased that government recognises that manufacturers have been rigorous in meeting the standards.

“There are already severe penalties for any manufacturer involved in any kind of misconduct in the type approval process conducted here in the UK and the Government is now looking to extend this to all vehicles wherever they have been approved.

“All new cars meet the toughest emission standards and government now has more powers to conduct in-service testing so consumers can be confident they are buying the cleanest and safest cars in history.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.