Compliance and enforcement

Compliance and enforcement

As vehicle emissions and efficiency regulations have become more stringent, the technologies used to mitigate emissions and reduce fuel consumption have become increasingly complex. A modern car or truck has a powerful computer under its hood and a small chemical plant, in effect, as part of its exhaust system, meaning there are many potential areas for system failure—or manipulation. All governments face significant challenges in ensuring that emissions and efficiency standards meant to protect public health and welfare are met in practice and not just in theory. Technology will continue to advance, and temptations to evade or subvert regulations will remain. An essential component of clean transportation policy, therefore, is effective measures to ensure that the intended outcomes from emissions-control and fuel-efficiency programs materialize, in fact, throughout the vehicle lifecycle.

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About the program

As vehicle emissions and efficiency regulations have become more stringent, the technologies used to mitigate emissions and reduce fuel consumption have become increasingly complex. A modern car or truck has a powerful computer under its hood and a small chemical plant, in effect, as part of its exhaust system, meaning there are many potential areas for system failure—or manipulation. All governments face significant challenges in ensuring that emissions and efficiency standards meant to protect public health and welfare are met in practice and not just in theory. Technology will continue to advance, and temptations to evade or subvert regulations will remain. An essential component of clean transportation policy, therefore, is effective measures to ensure that the intended outcomes from emissions-control and fuel-efficiency programs materialize, in fact, throughout the vehicle lifecycle.

ICCT research and analyses have played crucial roles in illuminating the scale and scope of disparities between vehicle-efficiency targets or pollutant emissions standards and “real-world” achievement in everyday use. ICCT also provides data and expertise to efforts by government agencies and other stakeholders engaged in designing and operating programs to measure and track vehicle performance, spot problems such as systematically high-emitting vehicle models, and identify workable and effective resolutions that ensure that efficiency and pollution standards are met in practice as well as in theory.

In the aftermath of the Dieselgate scandal, government agencies across Europe began to systematically test diesel cars for their emission levels. For the Euro 6 vehicles tested, the average real-world level of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions was 4.5 times above the Euro 6 limit. Only 10% of Euro 6 cars outperformed the Euro 6 limit, while the rest of vehicles exceeded the Euro 6 standard by up to 12 times.

—See Road tested, September 2017

Recent publications

VW defeat devices: A comparison of U.S. and EU required fixes

The modifications required by US regulators to VW diesel engines designed to cheat emissions tests are more stringent and more effective than in Europe.

2017.12.14 | Briefing
Global baseline assessment of compliance and enforcement programs for vehicle emissions and energy efficiency

Survey-based summary of regulatory agencies' programs to monitor and enforce compliance with vehicle emission and fuel consumption standards.

2017.11.14 | Report
Transparency of data in the regulation of vehicle emissions in the European Union and United States

Legal brief summarizing public access to vehicle emissions data in the EU and US.

2017.09.05 | Consultant report
See all publications

Staff blog

Naming and shaming manufacturers only works if you have a strong regulator

Even though Japan’s compliance and enforcement program is one of the most comprehensive, it could still be improved. Japan has an outsize influence on compliance and enforcement worldwide because it is home to major automotive manufacturers that sell their products worldwide. We should all hope that Japan's regulatory agencies keep playing tough, then, because that may translate into an outsize benefit to people’s health and the climate.

Staff

Senior Fellow / Regional Co-Lead
Peter Mock
EU Managing Director / Regional Lead