Surely it can have come as no surprise that more diesel engines are failing to meet emissions test targets? When the Volkswagen scandal over the so called defeat device broke last year, many in the industry wondered whether this was the tip of an iceberg.

As we noted last year, if you create tests then people will find ways of passing them – by fair means or foul. Talking to industry insiders, the whole issue of diesels and passing emissions test comes down to semantics. Is it a question finding a way round a test, or of fiddling the system? Defeat or cheat? That’s the question.

Whatever is going on, and will the car buyer ever know? The industry and the legislators have got themselves into a right old mess. When making laws there is, more often than not, one that is often forgotten – that of unintended consequences.

It’s all very well legislating for one thing if you do not think through what effect or consequence it will have elsewhere. Laws should not be made on the hoof by people who have little or no experience of what they are dealing with.

Legislators stamp their feet and car companies mess around with their software but who are the real losers here? All those consumers who have bought diesel cars. Industry analysts in the UK fear the resale value of these could crash after it was revealed some 37 vehicles on sale in the country failed Department of Transport tests – some emitting 10 times the legal limit of NOx.

Second hand VW diesels in the UK have already lost 5% of their value, around GBP500 (US$720), since the emssions scandal broke last year according to valuation expert Glass’s. The market for diesels in the UK – which boomed a few years ago when the government cut the fuel price to boost sales – has shrunk by nearly 1%.

Perversely, the models that passed the DoT tests in the UK, run by Emissions Analytics, were mostly Volkswagen Group vehicles. EA found that just one of 201 Euro 5 diesels, the EU emissions standard from 2009, did not exceed the limit, while only seven of 62 Euro 6 diesels, the stricter standard since 2014, did so.

Diesel cars must meet an official EU limit for NOx but are only tested in a laboratory under fixed conditions. All vehicles sold pass this regulation but, when taken out on to real roads, almost all emit far more pollution. 

Not cheating, then. Just defeating.