AIR Index Launches 28 Feb 2019 UK


City policy makers, car buyers and fleet managers now have access to independent, standardised on-road car emissions ratings

• Easy to understand and comparable ratings provide clarity for car buyers.
• Policy makers can now use accurate information to improve urban air quality in a fair way.
• The independent AIR Index shows the actual nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions for each vehicle type tested.
• The A-E colour-coded rating is endorsed by global air quality and vehicle emissions experts.
• Consumers advised not to buy another car until they have checked the AIR Index.
• More information available at the AIR Index website

00h01 28 February 2019: From today the smog surrounding car emissions starts to clear with the launch of the AIR Index an international, independent and standardised rating system that reveals accurately how much pollution a vehicle produces when it is used in towns and cities.

The slump in diesel car sales shows that car buyers across the world are confused about petrol and diesel emissions following Dieselgate, but until now have only been able to use the information provided by car makers’ own tests which they clearly don’t trust.

The AIR Index has been created to inform and empower car buyers and city policy makers with the real facts about vehicle emissions when making choices about car purchase and usage. A simple A-E colour-coded rating, shows the difference between clean and dirty vehicles.

Citizens in many of Europe’s urban areas are exposed to concentrations of air pollutants above the air quality standards defined in the 2016 Air Quality Directive1. Policy makers must act swiftly, but fairly, to ensure that only the cleanest vehicles based on their actual emissions are allowed on our streets to cut NOx emissions and clean up the air we breathe.

Today’s launch of the AIR Index allows consumers and policy makers to make effective decisions about car choices through access to reliable, independent information. The AIR Index shows ‘at a glance’ how clean a car’s tailpipe emissions are, allowing comparison with other vehicles based on scientifically robust, on-road vehicle testing according to the latest CWA 17379 methodology.

Inspiration for the AIR Index has been NCAP, the independent vehicle-safety rating system developed in the US in the 1970s that became the industry standard in the EU and around the world. The programme held car makers accountable for their safety performance, resulting in a voluntary adoption of technologies that led to safer vehicles.

Massimo Fedeli, Co-founder and Operations Director, AIR said: “The AIR Index is a game changer. It gives easy to understand, at-a-glance information on actual vehicle emissions in towns and cities. It compiles the results of the most independent, consistent and thorough tests ever carried out. It provides car buyers with the answers they need to make the right purchasing choices, it makes the industry accountable to produce cleaner cars and gives cities and policy makers the accurate data to create fair policies.

“We have worked hard over the last year with our expert academic and industry group to deliver European standardisation for the AIR Index through the CEN Workshop Agreement. For the first time there are comparative ratings between vehicles as a result of setting tough but fair testing criteria, all conducted on the road in real driving conditions. The same standardised test is applied to each different car type.

“For the first time policy makers have the ability to improve urban air quality, using the AIR Index to control vehicle access, without penalising consumers unfairly because the vehicle that they bought in good faith is dirtier, on the road, than they were led to believe.”

Nick Molden, Co-founder of AIR said: “The transparent publication of independent, on-road emissions testing results is the most efficient way to improve air quality. The AIR Index removes the confusion among car buyers and policy makers around petrol and diesel emissions, and around testing processes. Our tests go further than current car approval testing WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Testing Procedure) and RDE (Real Driving Emissions). WLTP is a step in the right direction but is still conducted in the laboratory and is not fully independent. RDE comes too late to solve the problem of very high NOx emitting diesel vehicles driving through our towns and cities.

“In our testing, we have found a number of the newest Euro 6 cars still emit significantly more NOx on the road than in the laboratory test used for their type approval. Our tests also reveal some diesel cars cleaner than petrol ones and some older cars are cleaner than newer ones. Change is already underway for new diesel cars and we believe the AIR Index can accelerate that change with car makers and policy makers aligned to changing our cities’ air quality – for the better.” 

Dan Carder, Director of the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions at the West Virginia University* said: ‘“If the AIR Index had been implemented 15 years ago, Dieselgate would likely not have happened. Until the recent implementation of the AIR Index, the air quality debate was devoid of objective, independent, and publicly available assessment of vehicles’ actual NOx emissions during real driving in urban environments.”

*Dan led the West Virginia University team that published the earliest evidence that Volkswagen was cheating on US emissions tests uncovering the scandal which became known as Dieselgate. He is a member of AIR’s Scientific Advisory Committee.

Gerry Keaney, Chief Executive of the BVRLA said: “Companies engaged in vehicle rental, leasing and fleet management will welcome the transparency on urban NOx emissions provided through the AIR Index. This is a win-win solution for fleet owners and policy makers, offering independent guidance to select the cleanest vehicles which will improve air quality now. The Index should not be used to create retrospective air quality policies that would punish fleets for vehicle choices they have already made based on less accurate NOx data”. 

AIR has now commissioned a programme of vehicle testing and more results will be added to the AIR Index periodically.

Download the AIR Index Launch Press Release 28.02.19 below:

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We provide practical solutions, including the AIR Index vehicle ratings, to ensure that independent, scientifically robust data are available to inform discussions and policy decisions which can help reduce the impact of harmful vehicle emissions. We are guided by a committee of the world's leading emissions and air quality experts who give their time and expertise to support our common goal of improving air quality and tackling the climate crisis. The AIR Index ratings and our expertise are used by public authorities and organisations across Europe to inform policy decisions. The AIR Alliance is a not-for-profit organisation and we fund our own testing and scientific programmes to provide AIR Index ratings free of charge. Please would you consider making a donation to support our work?

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