By Marine Strauss
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - New diesel vehicles are exceeding the limit for particle emissions, European campaign group Transport and Environment (T&E) said on Monday, calling on EU lawmakers to make emissions testing and regulations stricter.
Four years after Volkswagen <VOWG_p.DE> admitted to cheating U.S. diesel engine tests, new tests of two of 2018's top-selling diesel car models in Europe showed their particle pollution spiked to 1,000 times normal levels during the regular process of cleaning out their anti-pollution filters, T&E said.
The tests on the Nissan Qashqai and Opel/Vauxhall Astra showed they were 32% to 115% over the legal limit of 600 billion particles per kilometre during the automated filter cleaning.
A spokesman for Opel/Vauxhall <PEUP.PA> said it couldn't comment because it were not aware of the details of T&E's report.
A Nissan <7201.T> spokesman told Reuters that "all Nissan vehicles and DPF (diesel particulate filter) devices fitted in our vehicles fully comply with applicable emissions legislation."
The Japanese carmaker also said it supported new, stricter emissions tests and had introduced new technology to meet them.
T&E said more than 45 million vehicles carry particle filters in Europe, leading to 1.3 billion filter cleanings per year. The process can occur every two weeks and can last for 15 kilometres.
Under current European rules, if filter cleaning occurs during an official test, the results do not count, "meaning that 60-99% of regulated particle emissions from the tested vehicles are ignored," T&E said in its report.
Tests of the two so-called Euro 6d-temp vehicles, which refers to those that came to market after Sept. 1, 2017, were carried out by European vehicle test lab Ricardo in July and August 2019 and found the Astra emitted the largest number of particles when full filter regeneration took place, with 1,300 billion particles per kilometre.
The Qashqai's filter regeneration tests showed emissions of between 790 billion and 850 billion particles per km, exceeding the limit by 32% to 41%.
Particle pollution affects more people than any other pollutant according to the World Health Organization, with three in four inhabitants of European cities exposed to unsafe levels of particles, according to the European Environment Agency.
(Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine; Editing by Mark Potter)