Independent emissions testing scheme 'AIR' launched

The AIR organisation aims to improve air quality by promoting independent, on-road vehicle emissions testing

An independent emissions testing scheme called AIR (Allow Independent Road-testing) has been launched with the backing of a scientist who helped expose the Volkswagen Dieselgate scandal.

AIR is a not-for-profit alliance that aims to improve air quality by promoting independent, on-road vehicle emissions testing.

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Vehicle emissions expert Dan Carder has joined the organisation’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC). He led the West Virginia University team that published the earliest evidence VW was cheating emissions tests in the US.

Another new addition to the SAC is Dr Norbert Ligternik. He’s currently senior research scientist at Netherlands-based independent research organisation TNO – one of the global leaders in the field of real-world vehicle emissions and fuel consumption.

AIR says it wants to do “for air quality what Euro NCAP did for crash testing standards”, by which it means provide an independent, consumer-friendly resource.

The alliance’s key objective is to “contribute to delivering a cost-effective and timely reduction in harmful vehicle emissions in urban areas while ensuring the lowest emissions from the global vehicle fleet”.

AIR also says it “seeks to empower citizens, industry and public authorities to take informed decisions on their mobility practices and policies by promoting full transparency on vehicle emission levels”.

Since the Dieselgate scandal, the automotive industry has started focusing a lot more on emissions. The New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) type approval test – which was designed in the 1980s – has now been replaced by Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Testing Procedure (WLTP).

The new type approval test brought in tougher laboratory criteria for fuel economy and CO2 emissions in order to provide more realistic figures to consumers.

The Dieselgate scandal involved VW Group fitting around 11 million of its diesel cars with “defeat devices”. The software was able to detect when the vehicle was undergoing emissions testing and activate full emissions control measures in order to produce results far better than those achieved in real-world driving.

Read our story about how new cars emissions have reached a five year high here…

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