VW UK chief denies diesel fix caused more pollution

Volkswagen UK managing director suggests diesel test fixing made no difference to NOx emissions in the real world

The managing director of Volkswagen in the UK has denied any suggestion that scandal-hit VW diesel cars pumped more NOx into the atmosphere as a result of the carmaker fixing emissions tests.

Volkswagen Group UK managing director Paul Willis speaking during the EAC session this week

Volkswagen Group UK managing director Paul Willis speaking during the EAC session this week

According to VW Group UK’s Paul Willis, despite the firm’s admission that it manipulated diesel testing in order to meet emissions limits, this has nevertheless made no difference to levels of polluting emitted from its affected diesel cars.

He stressed that there was “no suggestion” that there had been any more NOx put into the atmosphere as a result of the manipulation of emissions tests for some VW diesel car models.

Giving evidence to MPs yesterday (October 15), Mr Willis explained that it was widely-known that there are discrepancies between emission levels recorded in official laboratory testing and the actual levels of NOx emitted during on-the-road driving

As a result, he said, most cars on UK roads emit more pollution than officially stated anyway, therefore any fixing of diesel tests would not have made a difference to emissions from VW diesel cars in the real world.

During the evidence session, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, had asked: “How much more NOx has been emitted by your cars than what would have been the case had the claims not been dishonest?” — to which Mr Willis replied that there had been “none”.

The MP for Brighton Pavillion said: “How can that be the case?”

Mr Willis responded: “What we are talking about here today is a laboratory test. There has been no suggestion that there has been any influence on real world driving. So, as a result of what we are discussing today, there is no indication that there has been any more NOx put into the atmosphere. No suggestion.”

However, seemingly frustrated by the response, Ms Lucas continued: “There must have been. If your tests were underplaying the amount of NOx being emitted into the atmosphere, there must have been a discrepancy between what the laboratory figures said and what the actual figures are?”

Mr Willis replied: “There are two separate issues. The type approval regime has a limit and the limit under Euro 6 is 80 milligrams per kilometre. So the car goes in the lab, and all cars go in the lab, and they have to be below a certain level. That’s what we’re talking about today. We are talking about the testing regime. We’re not talking about real world driving. Everybody knows — it’s in the public domain — that there is a delta between the test regime and real world driving. So therefore, it is entirely logical that there is no difference between the test and real world driving. Because the test and real world driving are completely separate.”

Ms Lucas said: “That doesn’t follow at all.”


The exchange came during the first evidence session hearing of the Environmental Audit Committee’s (EAC) newly-launched inquiry into the Volkswagen emissions testing scandal which came to light last month, affecting an estimated 11 million VW vehicles around the world.

SMMT's Mike Hawes speaking during the EAC session this week (October 15)

SMMT’s Mike Hawes speaking during the EAC session this week (October 15)

Mr Willis was also grilled on the scandal by MPs on the Transport Select Committee earlier this week, when he said he was unable to answer a number of technical questions because he is “not an engineer”, much to the frustration of some on the Committee (see story).

As during that committee session, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes also gave evidence alongside Mr Willis during yesterday’s EAC hearing.

And, during questioning —again from Green Party MP Ms Lucas — Mr Hawes denied that his organisation has been involved in lobbying at EU level to keep “loopholes” in emissions tests.

He said: “I have had no meetings with any ministers to say we want any loopholes.”

Mr Hawes also said repeatedly said that SMMT “wants regulation that is robust, repeatable and reflects technology”.

Closing the evidence session later, EAC chair and Labour MP Huw Irannica-Davies thanked the two witnesses for their time: “It has been an interesting session. I hope you are anticipating that you don’t have to come back on a weekly basis.”


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John Souttar
John Souttar
8 years ago

Put a comment here earlier about Glasgow and the high levels of NO2 but now it has disappeared. What sort of comments do you want ?

8 years ago

I like that last quote, it sounds like ‘I hope you think you got away with this nonsense because you will be sorely disappointed’.

John Souttar
John Souttar
8 years ago

I live in Glasgow which has massive levels of NO2 destroying our health and shortening our lives. I hope our Council sues VW and any other car manufacturers if the specifications they offer are misleading. Let us test this defence in court and use any damages to bolster our NHS services for chronic respiratory disease. This is the real world that the man is denying has a relationship with figures presented by laboratories which misled owners and our Council. Otherwise we should be banning diesel cars from the city.

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