Published on November 18th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez


Do We Malaysians Really Care About Vehicle Emissions?

The recent news about ‘dieselgate’ has thrown the whole issue of vehicle emissions into the spotlight and some Malaysians are jumping on it, but there has been much inaccurate and confusing reporting of the whole emissions issue in the media. The thing is, we daily see vehicles spewing out thick black smoke in the city and on the highways. Mostly diesel commercial vehicles (trucks, buses, taxis and tractors) which have ‘passed’ their puspakom inspection which is every 6 months.

Even diesel driven luxury cars and SUV’s in Malaysia have been spewing black smoke randomly due to the low quality diesel and the removal of catalytic convertors by many owners after warranties have ended. Still we look, see, shake our heads in disgust and complain under our breath when we see these vehicles on the road. Why, because we cannot do anything about it. It’s just that simple. We have learnt to live with it. Meanwhile Volkswagen as a brand is getting hit hard even though they do not sell a single diesel driven car in Malaysia. Only the VW Touareg SUV is diesel powered.

Volkswagen has been in the news due to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in America discovering that diesel engines in certain Volkswagen Group vehicles have been fitted with a ‘defeat device’, which senses when the vehicle is being officially tested, and lowers the performance of the vehicle and therefore also lowers the emissions. The emissions in question are nitrogen oxides (NOx). It seems that Volkswagen couldn’t successfully engineer some of its diesel engines to pass the stringent US NOx tests, so the company resorted to using software to cheat the system instead.

Although Vokswagen’s ‘defeat device’ is likely to have an impact on all emissions, it is NOx emissions that are the issue. NOx emissions have an impact on local air quality as they help to form smog and have serious health effects, including contributing to the development of respiratory and lung diseases and cancer.

Some media have been confusing NOx emissions with CO2 emissions. Whereas NOx emissions impact on local air quality, CO2 emissions impact upon climate change.

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