Plans to impose heavy penalties on emissions cheating part of new UK legislation

07 February 2018

Plans to impose heavy penalties on emissions cheating part of new UK legislation

7 February 2018

The UK Government plans to penalise vehicle manufacturers who try to cheat emissions tests with criminal charges that go ‘above and beyond’ European rules.

The country is currently negotiating its deal to leave the European Union and will put together many of its own laws and penalties as it breaks dependence from the EU Commission. However, it is likely that Britain will adopt EU Type Approval legislation to ensure vehicles imported from the continent remain relevant. This also includes emissions testing procedures.

Following the Dieselgate scandal, automotive authorities in countries around the world have been on alert should any further cheating take place. With air quality targets imposed by the EU, Britain is one country that is looking to ensure it can improve levels of pollution. To this effect, the UK Government announced last year that it would ban the sale of petrol and diesel only vehicles by 2040.

The plans to penalise any manufacturer found to be fitting a ‘cheat device’ have been outlined in a new document – Road vehicles: Improving air quality and safety – which is currently out for public consultation.

The document states: ‘We intend to create a new offence of supplying (to include registering or placing on the market) 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. We intend to make such an offence applicable to any, and all, elements of the supply chain - the manufacturer, importer or dealer/ distributor. The consumer would not be subject to a penalty for purchasing such a vehicle or selling it as a second-hand vehicle.’

In a statement, 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.’

Other proposals to improve air quality and road safety. This includes ensuring manufacturers update all their vehicle information to take into account WLTP figures from 1 January 2019, and making it clearer for consumers as to the new figures through advertising in dealerships, print media and any billboard campaigns. Also, any point of sale information must quote figures for the exact model on display, including optional extras, so as not to confuse.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) responded to the proposals with a statement that said UK consumers ‘can be confident they are buying the cleanest and safest cars in history.

‘Every new car sold in the UK meets the strictest of regulations governing everything from safety to emissions standards and how vehicles are tested and approved for sale,’ SMMT CEO Mike Hawes added.