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"Volkswagen produced 22.7% of EU's dirty diesel cars, triggering NOx air pollution in EU cities."

The Impaakt Team

8 min Read Time | February 19th 2021

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“Volkswagen produced 22.7% of EU's dirty diesel cars, triggering NOx air pollution in EU cities”

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Written by: Théophile Merienne

Company: Volkswagen
SDG 3: Good Health and Well-being



Feedback from the reviewing team:

"This is a highly effective analysis that carefully unpicks the air pollution situation and Volkswagens ongoing significant contribution to the problem. Great work."


Read the full impact analysis below and ensure you log in or sign-up to make your ratings about the impact the topic in this analysis has on the environment and society.

In 2018, air pollution in the EU-28 caused 379,000 premature deaths7;p7. Transport is the first cause of air pollution in Europe7;p32. Road transport's main contribution to air pollution is nitrogen oxides (NOx)7;p36. NOx pollution causes 55,000 deaths annually in Europe7;p107, and road transport accounts for 39% of total Europe NOx emissions7;p36. NOx pollution in European cities is of special concern: a 2019 report underlines that the top ten cities in terms of pollution-related deaths are all in Europe1 and 4% of the European population is exposed to NOx concentration above WHO standards7;p8.

Volkswagen is the largest car manufacturer worldwide with brands including Volkswagen, Skoda, and Audi. The average lifespan of a car in Europe is 10.8 years2, and the total EU motor vehicle fleet amounted to 280M in 20192. Since Volkswagen sold 37M cars in the EU between 2009 and 20193, approximately 13% of total road transport vehicles in the EU, were produced by the Volkswagen group.

Nitrogen oxides result especially of diesel engine vehicles, which represent 45% of the EU fleet2 and emit on average 10 times more NOx than petrol engine vehicle4;p1. Among them, 'dirty diesel ', designated as cars with NOx emissions twice above the limit, represent 51 million vehicles in 20195, 11.6 million of which come from VW group5. This means the Volkswagen group produced 22.7% of high emitting NOx cars in Europe.

Despite the 2015 diesel-gate scandal (revealed NOx emissions of VW cars were as high as 40 times above standards6), Volkswagen remains a major seller of diesel cars. Diesel cars made up 43% of orders in 20188. Therefore VW participates in the continuation of the pollution situation in European cities.

Volkswagen diesel cars sold over the last decade play a significant role in NOx pollution in European cities. The company must take measures to set a path towards reducing the impact of its products during its use time.


Sources

1. https://www.transportenvironment.org/news/cities-where-chances-dying-transport-pollution-are-highest-are-all-%E2%80%A6-europe

2. https://www.acea.be/statistics/tag/category/vehicles-in-use

3. https://carsalesbase.com/volkswagen-group-europe/

4. https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.transportenvironment.org/sites/te/files/publications/2015_09_Five_facts_about_diesel_FINAL.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjzoM2hwLzuAhUOCxoKHYQ-BjAQFjABegQIAhAF&usg=AOvVaw1M4Gdy4CMWhWF5lxFknzJb

5. https://www.transportenvironment.org/press/there-are-now-51-million-dirty-diesel-cars-eu%E2%80%99s-roads

6. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-34324772

7. https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/air-quality-in-europe-2020-report

8. https://www.volkswagen-newsroom.com/en/press-releases/volkswagen-customers-order-more-diesel-vehicles-4615

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