Online emissions checker to launch in autumn

A new initiative to clear the “smoke and mirrors” surrounding vehicle emissions has been launched by the Mayor of London.

Sadiq Kahn says an online ‘cleaner car checker’ will help restore new car buyers’ faith in major manufacturers, helping them to make more informed choices.

A website, set to go live in the autumn, will score almost all new cars based on their emissions credentials. It will also provide scores for most new vans.

Mr Kahn announced the new scheme while meeting his Parisian counterpart Anne Hidalgo in the French capital for a discussion around the tightening of European standards for air quality.

He said the new scoring system would help steer motorists – particularly those in London, by far the country’s biggest pollution offender – away from the dirtiest vehicles and improve public faith in the industry following recent high-profile scandals.

He said: “My scheme will put an end to the smoke and mirrors that have been employed in official emissions tests. It will provide Londoners with an honest, accurate and independent evaluation of the emissions of most new cars and vans on our roads and on the showroom forecourt.”

He also hailed the scheme as a “fantastic example” of how the world’s big cities can pool knowledge and ideas to push big industries to change for the better.

RAC roads policy spokesman Nick Lyes, while supportive of the scheme, noted the emissions checker will primarily be a useful tool for buyers rather than a deterrent for car makers.

He said: “While the new official emissions testing regime incorporating a real-world driving test is due to come into force in September the mayor’s scheme, which is based on independent expert emissions analytics part funded by a motoring charity, could help Londoners make more informed decisions about the vehicles they purchase, helping to reduce pollution in the capital.

“Ultimately though, the mayor’s emissions checker scheme is unlikely to affect manufacturers as their obligation is to comply with official tests which they have, of course, been doing. The inclusion of a real-world test cycle is an important step forward and one which the car industry has long been supportive of.”

Paris Mayor, Ms Hidalgo said: “This announcement is a wake-up call to car companies that they need to act now. Citizens of Paris and cities around the world demand clean air to breathe and this new scoring scheme will be key to helping achieve that.”

Oliver Hayes, an air pollution campaigner for Friends of the Earth added that the so-called “dieselgate” scandal had rocked consumer confidence in manufacturer claims over toxic emissions.

“Decisions about what to drive next will be massively improved by a simple, independent scoring system like the one announced today by mayors Khan and Hidalgo,” he said.