Environmental Group Slams Jaguar Land Rover for Pollution Comments

Environmental advocacy group Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) slammed Tata Motors-owned Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) for saying that the Delhi air which was sucked in by the company’s cars was ‘far dirtier’ than what they emit. The CSE said that the comments amounted to equating cars with ‘air-purifying machines’.

Jaguar Land Rover’s CEO Ralph Speth made the comments on the sidelines of the ongoing 2016 Auto Expo in Greater Noida, which the CSE termed as ‘misleading and irresponsible’. The CSE also said that car companies cannot be allowed to “hide behind such claims” amid raging concerns over “toxic diesel emissions even in advanced markets today”.

“No car company can get away by making such remarks in any other country. Instead of misleading the public and policymakers, vehicle industry should acknowledge special public health concerns associated with toxic diesel emissions and take full responsibility for quick and drastic cuts in emissions by leapfrogging to Euro VI emissions standards to reduce public health risk,” the CSE said in a statement.

The CSE also added that it “condemns the misleading remark of the Jaguar and Land Rover chief Ralph Speth in claiming that their cars act like air purifying machines”.

“Globally, diesel cars have come under scrutiny and action for aggravating the problem of nitrogen oxide pollution and high and variable emissions from diesel cars on the road,” CSE’s Executive Director Anumita Roy Chowdhury said.

The statement further said this was “a serious affront when judicial and executive action is focussed on reducing public health risk from diesel emissions”.

In a strong criticism of the ban on high-end diesel car sales, Speth had said that “the latest Euro VI regulation schemes have got technical features, which (can) clean the air in Delhi… These kind of vehicles drive like a hoover… Air they suck in is far dirtier than the air which comes out of it.”

JLR is among the automobile companies hit hard by the Supreme Court order in December last year which bans the registration of diesel cars and SUVs above 2000cc in the entire National Capital Region (NCR) till March 31.

The government has also decided to advance enforcement of much stricter Euro VI emissions standards.

CSE also added that JLR’s comments follows those of Mercedes-Benz, which had made similar claims about the emissions from their cars being clean even as the Chief Justice TS Thakur commented, “Does your car emit oxygen?”

Asking JLR to “take back” these words and support the government in bringing clean diesel technology quickly, CSE further asked carmakers not to “confuse people with what you sell in India with what you sell in Europe or in US”.

Quoting its own analysis, it further said the car industry might be producing clean diesel technology in advanced markets like the US and Europe but not in India as the law of the land does not require them to. It further said that the experience in the US and Europe shows that even at Euro VI, concerns remain over diesel cars.

“Paris is banning diesel cars by 2020. London has proposed to bar entry of diesel cars not meeting Euro VI diesel car standards in their ultra-low emissions zones,” it said.

CSE further pitched for advancing the Euro VI emissions standards and enforcing stringent in-use compliance norms to ensure the emissions from their cars remain within the stipulated margins during the life-time of the car.

Referring to the Volkswagen emissions scandal in which defeat devices were used to reduce the severity of the emissions control systems, Chowdhury said, “Make car manufacturers liable, accountable, and responsible for the life-long emissions performance of their cars.”

It also accused the diesel car industry of “resorting to circumvent the Supreme Court judgment by replacing the 2000cc engines with slightly smaller engines”.

“Tax all diesel cars higher based on ‘polluter pays’ principle. Do not allow cars which run on dirty diesel technology to be sold in the luxury segment,” the CSE further said.