By David Connett Massive levels of pollution are being emitted by diesel vehicles built by a wide range of carmakers, according to tests carried out by one of the world's biggest independent motoring organizations. The findings are a further blow to the car industry already reeling from revelations that Volkswagen fitted vehicles with software that deceived US regulators about pollution from their diesel engines.
There is a growing awareness that conventional hybrids and slow-selling battery cars simply won’t be enough to meet rigid EU emissions limits.
Among those showing off new ideas at the Geneva car show this week, Volkswagen presented its diesel-electric XL1 – a low-slung two-seater that burns less than a litre (0.26 U.S. gallons) of fuel per 100 kilometres (62 miles) – while PSA Peugeot Citroen rolled out a compressed-air hybrid.
I pulled into the filling station somewhat reluctantly. It was packed with a parade of cars, SUVs and pickup trucks, each jockeying for their turn to nourish their internal combustion engines with a tank of gasoline. I don’t like waiting. But I did, and after the ordeal I went into the station to buy a cup of coffee.
“What’s going on out there,” I asked the teller, “what’s with all the cars?”
“Don’t know sir,” said the teller, prompting me for my debit card. “Lots of people; I guess they like to drive.”
Canadians continued to snap up record numbers of SUVs and pickup trucks in July, a trend that will make it very difficult for automakers to meet new fuel-efficiency standards outlined by the government last week.
Auto sales hit another all-time monthly high in July, inching up 0.4 per cent to 177,844 units. But the growth was concentrated in light trucks — a category that includes sport utility vehicles, crossovers and pickups — which gained 8.2 per cent while car sales declined 10.3 per cent, according to data compiled by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.
Diesel engines, long reputed for being loud and dirty, are making waves in the U.S. Although they accounted for just 3.2% of U.S. auto sales in 2012 (about the same as hybrids), the number of diesels on American roads will double by 2018, according to research firm LMC Automotive.
In July 2011, the Obama administration announced the new Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards that will begin taking effect in 2017. The standards for U.S. light-duty vehicle fleets (passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks) will be 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025, and they piggyback on the 2009 mandate for a CAFE average of 35.5 mpg by 2016, up from 27.3 mpg in 2011.
A year ago, carmakers in India were readying to go full throttle, helped by falling fuel prices, easing inflation and softening interest rates. India seemed well on the road to becoming the world's third-largest passenger car market by 2020. But the pace of growth has slowed in recent months, with sales increasing at a meagre 6-7 per cent (most carmakers have had far worse depressing sales growth). As if that wasn't worrying enough, a couple of setbacks have further dampened industry sentiment.