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EU truck manufacturers call for action to prevent tampering of emission controls

24 February 2017

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) issued a statement condemning “the advertising, sale and use of any aftermarket device that can be used by truck operators to turn off emission control systems”. Recent media reports—said ACEA—have shown that ‘AdBlue emulator’ devices are being installed by truck operators in order to by-pass or stop the AdBlue injection system.

A recent documentary on German television reported that AdBlue emulators (also known as ‘AdBlue killers’) are commonly used on commercial vehicles, and showed an installation of such device performed at a shop in Romania. The University of Heidelberg has estimated that some 20% of trucks operating from Eastern Europe are equipped with AdBlue emulators, resulting in up to 14,000 tonnes of excessive NOx emissions per year—a figure that significantly exceeds the excessive NOx estimates linked to the Volkswagen emission scandal.

The AdBlue emulator includes an electronic circuit that simulates the SCR sensor signals for the vehicle control and OBD system, to hide the fact that the system is operated without AdBlue (urea). If there is no urea injection, there will be no NOx reduction in the SCR, saving truck operators the cost of AdBlue refills at the environmental expense of higher NOx emissions. The truck operator may also qualify for lower motorway taxes or other benefits by officially running a Euro VI truck, which in practice will not be operating as it was designed to. There are many websites of suppliers and marketers offering such devices, said ACEA, in several EU member states and also outside the European Union, at a range of prices and capabilities.

ACEA has called on the European Commission and member states to:

While the ACEA statement focuses on AdBlue emulators, emission tampering has been a much wider and older problem. In the EU, a very common modification in older models of diesel engines is blocking off the EGR flow. Many earlier EOBD systems do not detect EGR blockages, and according to some estimates, as many as 50% of older diesels in the EU may have their EGR blocked. Another common modification is the removal of the diesel particulate filter (DPF). ‘DPF delete’ kits are available in Europe as well as in North America.

The scale of emission tampering worldwide remains largely unknown due to the lack of enforcement. Many jurisdictions completely lack anti-tempering regulations and programs. In countries that do have anti-tempering legislation, the enforcement is sketchy at best and non-existent at worst. ACEA noted that it already raised its concerns in 2012 with the European Commission and the member states, but no action was taken.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is one of the few regulatory authorities that actually carried enforcement actions against suppliers of emission tempering kits. And yet, DPF delete kits continue to be advertised and available in the North American market.

In a recent statement reflecting the ACEA concerns, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) has called on the Canadian government to broaden its oversight powers to prevent tampering of mandatory emission control devices in heavy trucks. In Canada, the federal government has no powers under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) to prevent tampering after the vehicle is sold to the consumer. “This fact—coupled with spotty or non-existent provincial regulations and enforcement to prevent sales and installation of emissions control defeat devices—means that we now find ourselves in a situation where harmful environmental, and unfair business practices are allowed to continue, unchecked,” said the CTA.

The ACEA commercial vehicle members are DAF Trucks, Daimler Trucks, Iveco, MAN Truck & Bus, Scania, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, and Volvo Group.

Source: ACEA