The European carmakers' trade association, ACEA, has rebutted claims in a new report that modern diesel engine cars are more polluting than established tests suggest.

The Real Urban Emissions Initiative (True) report is based on research that uses a beam of light to analyse the exhaust plume of a car as it passes and automatic number plate recognition to link the measurement to a specific model. The True report says that new diesel models released in 2016 were still on average five over times above the EU's official baseline limit of 0.08mg of nitrogen oxides (NOx) per kilometre. 

However, ACEA  has strongly rebutted the claims and says that the latest Euro 6d diesel cars emit low pollutant emissions on the road under the new Real Driving Emissions (RDE) test, which came into application in September 2017.

Under RDE, a car is driven on public roads over a wide range of conditions using portable measuring equipment. RDE complements the lab test, WLTP, to ensure that pollutant emission levels measured during the laboratory test are confirmed on the road, ACEA notes.

"The claims from the new 'TRUE' study are misleading for consumers," said Erik Jonnaert, Secretary General of ACEA. "EU policymakers will be equally disappointed that there is no acknowledgement that the latest Euro 6 diesel cars complying with the new RDE legislation are very clean."

The claims made in this study are based on 'remote sensing' results collected between 2011 and 2017. They therefore do not evaluate the on-road performance of the latest diesel vehicles approved to the Euro 6d standard since September 2017, ACEA maintains.

Jonnaert added: "As all cars tested as part of this 'TRUE' initiative were pre-Euro 6d vehicles, the fact that they do not meet emissions requirements that only became mandatory after they were put on the market is not surprising."

ACEA says that research by FuelsEurope and the Association for Emissions Control by Catalyst (AECC) also shows that the latest generation of diesel vehicles will continue to play a major role in helping reach future CO2 targets. Likewise, these vehicles will also have a positive impact on improving air quality, along with other local measures, in areas where exceedance of NO2 remains a concern, ACEA maintains.

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