— Volkswagen's emissions cheating has started a global chain reaction with governments questioning and testing emissions systems from multiple automakers.
Now it seems the Dutch have their own questions after the Netherlands Vehicle Authority, also known as the RDW, discovered Jeep and Suzuki vehicles allegedly have illegal nitrogen oxide emissions. The RDW says the findings popped up after multiple vehicles were tested from 14 automakers.
Based on the findings, Dutch prosecutors are investigating the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Suzuki Vitara to determine if the vehicles have "impermissible software" that alter the emissions systems.
Automakers in Europe have always claimed their vehicles do contain emissions "defeat devices," but argue those devices are completely legal. Regulations allow for the software to be used to protect the engines under certain conditions such as times of a heavy strain on the engines.
European emissions laws are not nearly as strict as the U.S., something the automakers took advantage of when installing the defeat devices. By claiming the devices are only on the cars for certain driving situations to protect the engines, the defeat devices didn't set off alarm bells with regulators.
Not until Volkswagen was caught cheating did government agencies starting taking a closer look at the emissions systems of millions of diesel cars.
Dutch authorities even stopped using the phrase "defeat device" and now call the devices "impermissible software" in an attempt to separate the legal use of defeat devices from illegal use.
European emissions laws give a lot of freedom to automakers concerning the emissions systems because no law specifies what conditions can activate the defeat devices, other than saying the cars should emit "clean" emissions under "normal" driving situations.
This vague wording opened the door for automakers to create emissions software to activate in various real-world driving conditions under the guise of protecting the engines.
Dutch officials also accused automakers of using cheap emissions filters that made the automakers turn off the systems to allegedly protect the engines.
The RDW originally found problems in 16 diesel vehicles it tested, but after discussing the matter with the affected automakers, regulators were pleased with the explanations provided for all but two models, the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Suzuki Vitara.
European vehicles will soon be tested for emissions violations not only in the lab, but during real-world driving conditions, something that will make every automaker think twice about using illegal software.
The emissions scandal that first left the starting line by Volkswagen hitting the gas hasn't played favorites as multiple automakers have entered the race.
While the Dutch are busy with allegedly illegal emissions on only two vehicles, European officials are investigating German reports that allege BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen worked together since the mid-1990s to hold down the prices of emissions equipment and other vehicle systems.
The three companies are also accused of working together to create diesel vehicles that would pass emissions tests in labs but turn into illegal pollution factories on the roads.