Technological Response Options after the VW Diesel Scandal: Implications for Engine CO2 Emissions


In the VW diesel scandal, automakers were found to be cheating with emission data, by e.g., tampering with on-board detection systems. We have calculated changes in the energy use and emissions of carbon dioxide equivalents that would arise through several options open to automakers, to ensure that the emission of nitrogen oxides is kept within the standards.

Several studies show how manufacturers have also significantly underreported vehicles’ actual fuel consumption. We explain our derivation of new factors for energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions from diesel- and gasoline-powered passenger cars, as well as their electric hybrid varieties. The results of the analysis show that energy consumption and emissions of carbon dioxide equivalents will increase in the range of 18–21% for passenger cars with diesel and hybrid diesel engines, while for cars with gasoline and hybrid gasoline, the addition is 9–10%. The analysis highlights an environmental dilemma of current car technology, but also the path-dependent ways of thinking that have been prevalent within the automotive sector. From a sociotechnical sustainability transitions perspective, Dieselgate can be viewed as a case of “regime resistance”, whereby incumbent actors seek to maintain the status quo.


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