The Automobile Association of South Africa (AA) has received numerous enquiries from the public and media since mid-September relating to Volkswagen AG’s use of defeat devices on certain diesel vehicles.
Since the announcement by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on 18 September, local motorists have raised questions about the impact of the use of defeat devices on Volkswagen vehicles in South Africa.
As a service to motorists in South Africa, the AA is attaching a briefing document provided by the International Automobile Federation (FIA) outlining the various issues.
It must be noted that although this document is Europe specific it does provide useful background on the matter as well as the position of FIA Region 1, of which the AA is a member.
The acceptable limits for exhaust emissions of new vehicles are defined by the European Emission Standards. There are a number of levels of the standards up to Euro 6. Currently, South Africa operates under Euro 2 guidelines. New fuel specifications for South Africa are being considered but an implementation date has yet to be determined.
Although Volkswagen vehicles locally do not meet the higher Euro 5 standards currently applied in Europe, they do meet the local Euro 2 standards. Regardless of this, the National Regulator for Compulsory Standards (NRCS) has indicated their intention to test local variants of Volkswagen vehicles.
It is, however, not anticipated that any of these local vehicles will be recalled in the worldwide recall scheduled to begin in January 2016.
Cleaner Fuels in South Africa
South African efforts to improve emissions and move to the Euro 5 standards through improvements in local fuel quality, are pending.
The South African Petroleum Industry Association (SAPIA) explains that the process of introducing cleaner fuels in the country started in 1986 with the removal of lead from petrol. Unleaded petrol was available since 1996.
SAPIA notes on its website (www.sapia.co.za) that, “In June 2012, the Minister of Energy promulgated amended regulations providing for new fuel specifications to be introduced by July 2017. The Department of Energy has subsequently informed the oil industry that the 2017 implementation date had been pushed out to a date still to be determined.”