Americans may be pleased to learn that some of the money Volkswagen has had to pay because of the diesel cheating scandal is going to what many will regard as the appropriate place: a vehicle emissions test lab.
The California Air Resources Board (CARB) broke ground Friday on a vehicle emissions test lab that’s set to cost an estimated $419 million, and as much as a third of the funding is coming directly from money paid in penalties by the Volkswagen Group as a result of the emissions scandal.
The technical capabilities of the lab are expected to be a rival for what the automakers themselves have at their disposal, according to Mary Nichols, the Chairman of CARB.
California sees a need for the facility, not just as a means of combatting fraud, but also to counter the growing difference between the initial emissions projections of automakers, and the real-world, long-term emissions performance of vehicles.
Ahead of the ground-breaking ceremony, Nichols said, “As you get tighter and tighter emissions controls, you begin to reach a point where it’s hard to argue for stricter standards as opposed to looking at whether the cars are meeting the standards for which they were certified in the first place.”
The new lab will be a 380,000 square-foot facility located close to the University of California, Riverside. When up and running, it will rely on portable testing equipment and roadside monitoring technology a lot more than the existing El Monte facility, which is now 44 years old. That said, the El Monte lab has to be given some considerable credit for helping to expose the Volkswagen scandal in 2015 through its stationary dynamometers.
It’s believed as early as next week, CARB will reveal a plan for meeting California’s existing legislation for reducing statewide carbon dioxide emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. It could require up to 40 percent of new vehicle sales to be made up of fuel cells, electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids by 2030, massively up from the current 3 percent. JB