A new emissions scandal erupts in the United States, potentially more impacting than the diesel gate of 2015. This was brought to light by the EPA, the Environmental Protection Agency that had already discovered the manipulations of Volkswagen and other car manufacturers. In the sights of the feds, this time, there are at least 500,000 diesel pick-ups marketed in the US and equipped with a defeat device, a device that inhibits exhaust gas treatment systems to improve performance. The manufacturers, however, are not involved: the changes were made directly by the owners who, relying on specialized workshops, had the engine management electronics modified in order to increase the performance of the pick-ups. According to the EPA, the actual environmental significance of these illegal practices is incalculable: this is why, according to the authorities, it would be a scandal of much larger proportions than those of the diesel gate itself.
Only the largest pickups analyzed for now
Over the past five years, the American authorities have conducted research on tuners that modify the electronics of diesel engines, discovering that the practice of manipulating emission control systems is widespread throughout the country. According to the calculations of the EPA, which has limited its research to large pick-ups (with masses between 3,855 and 6,350 kg) such as the Chevrolet Silverado, Ram 2500 and Ford’s Super Duty range, the emissions caused by the handling of half a million vehicles would be equivalent to those of 9 million pick-ups. According to the numbers collected by the agency, the changes would result in an increase in overall emissions of about 570 thousand tons of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), an amount ten times greater than that attributed to the modifications made by Volkswagen to the American vehicles involved in the diesel gate. As regards particulate matter, on the other hand, the overall increase due to tampering would be 5 thousand tons considering only half a million vehicles analyzed. This practice, however, could be much more widespread and not only involve large work vehicles.
The first proceedings have already begun
Unlike the diesel gate, the EPA did not release official communications: the report was brought to light by Evan Belser, deputy director of the Air Enforcement Division, who sent it to three US emission control organizations. EPA investigations have discovered 28 companies active in the construction of at least 45 different defeat devices for diesel pick-ups and some companies have already been fined: in Florida, for example, Punch It Performance Tuning has already agreed on the compensation of 850,000 dollars to file the charges. This new scandal has also put the control procedures of various American states under the EPA’s lens, some of which would not guarantee an in-depth analysis of the emissions of vehicles already on the market.