LCQ18: Vehicle manufacturer cheating in vehicle emissions tests

     Following is a question by the Hon Frederick Fung and a written reply by Acting Secretary for the Environment, Ms Christine Loh, in the Legislative Council today (October 14):


     It has been reported that recently a German vehicle manufacturer was found to have installed software in the diesel private cars it manufactured so as to cheat on vehicle emission tests. According to the information from the Environmental Protection Department (EPD), there has not been any registration of diesel private cars of the relevant models in Hong Kong, but the EPD will further look into the incident and gather information. At present, all imported vehicles must comply with Euro V emission standards and in processing the registration of imported vehicles, the EPD requires the applicant to provide an emission testing report issued by an independent and recognised third-party testing organisation or a certificate issued by a foreign official regulatory body after testing to prove vehicle emission compliance with the statutory standards in Hong Kong. Regarding the regulation of vehicle emissions, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether the authorities have held a meeting with the Hong Kong agent of the vehicle manufacturer concerned in relation to the aforesaid incident; if they have, of the information obtained, including details of the cheating tactics; whether the authorities have studied the possibility of other vehicle manufacturers cheating with similar tactics; and

(2) whether the authorities will review the existing system for regulating vehicle emissions, including conducting vehicle emission tests when processing vehicle type approval; if they will not, of the reasons for that?



     Diesel vehicles emit more respirable suspended particulates (RSP) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) than petrol vehicles, both of which are major roadside air pollutants. To improve our roadside air quality, the Government has required since 1998 that the emission performance (including RSP and NOx) of newly registered diesel private cars should not be worse than that of newly registered petrol private cars. Due to the stringent emission requirements of diesel private cars, only about ten diesel private car models are available for sale in the local market.

     My specific responses are as follows:

     The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has recently revealed that a vehicle manufacturer has installed illegal software in its diesel private cars to enable them to comply with the specified emission standards while being tested in the laboratory but their on road emissions would far exceed the emission standards.  After the news was published, the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has immediately contacted the relevant regulatory authorities in the United States and European Union (EU) as well as the vehicle manufacturer to understand the situation.

     Based on the current information, the affected diesel private car models announced by the USEPA and the vehicle manufacturer concerned have not been registered for use in Hong Kong. Local representatives of the vehicle manufacturer concerned has pledged to cooperate with the EPD's investigation and follow up with the manufacturer to provide information regarding the diesel private car models on sale in Hong Kong.

     In addition to the vehicle manufacturer concerned, the EPD has also met representatives of other vehicle manufacturers with their diesel private cars with emissions approved. We have expressed our grave concerns on the issue and requested the manufacturers to confirm whether similar defeat device has been installed in their diesel private cars in Hong Kong. We will continue to closely monitor the development of the case.

     All vehicles imported for use on road in Hong Kong have to comply with the emission standards as stipulated in the Air Pollution Control (Vehicle Design Standards) (Emission) Regulations (Cap. 311 sub. leg. J). The prevailing statutory emission standards are equivalent to Euro V. In processing emission approval for newly registered vehicles, the EPD has all along been following international practices and requires the applicant to provide test reports issued by a recognised independent third party testing agent after witnessing the laboratory test on-site, or a certificate issued by a foreign official authority after conducting the laboratory test, to demonstrate that the vehicle can comply with our local statutory emission standards.

     For ensuring consistency of emissions from vehicles when running on roads and tested in laboratories, the EU has planned to introduce on road emissions tests when implementing Euro VI emission standards. The EU has started implementing on road emissions tests for heavy duty vehicles (design weight above 3.5 tonnes) and will announce the relevant requirements for light duty vehicles at a later stage. The EPD will continue to closely monitor the development and study the feasibility of introducing these new testing requirements. The EPD also plans to consult the Legislative Council and relevant stakeholders on the proposal of further tightening the statutory emission standards for newly registered vehicles to Euro VI level by the end of this year.

Ends/Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Issued at HKT 11:34