Wired is reporting that Volkswagen has withdrawn its application for EPA certification for 2016 model year diesel-powered cars. That likely means that VW will only offer petrol-powered cars in the US for the foreseeable future.
Even though it's the result of the emissions test cheat it's probably a good result for America. In Europe the push to reduce carbon emissions meant that diesel oil was heavily subsidized, to the detriment of air quality as a result of much higher particulate and NOx emissions - even before VW's shady practice was uncovered. In the US diesel has never been anything like as popular and as a result air quality hasn't suffered to the same extent.
Car manufacturers are complaining about the new Euro 6 emissions standards, which seek to address this bad policy by cleaning up tailpipe emissions to a much higher standard. Those car makers are asking for the Euro 6 requirements to be phased in - allowing them to keep selling existing 'dirty' beyond the cutoff this month.
Europe's failure to properly manage the amount of soot exhausted by diesel engines has had an enormous effect on air quality and health. Visit any large European city and you'll know immediately. If the smog isn't a clue then the 'taste' in the air certainly will be. It's worrying that people living in these cities don't even notice how bad the air is.
One of the first things that I noticed when leaving the UK for New Zealand was the enormous improvement in air quality. Yes, part of that is down to the much lower population density. However a significant factor has to be the almost total absence of diesel powered vehicles.
More than just pushing for better tailpipe emissions from its new vehicle fleets, the EU needs to address air quality issues by pushing forward plans to electrify private transport, hand in hand with strategies to improve the quality and adoption of public transport.
Anything less would be just as scandalous as Volkswagen's decision to cheat the emissions test.