In September 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency revealed Volkswagen’s use of illegal “defeat device” software in its diesel cars.
The software routines allowed cars to pass emissions tests while still producing up to 35 times the legal limits of nitrogen oxides in real-world driving, setting off a scandal that is still being dealt with.
Volkswagen is proceeding with buybacks and modifications of affected cars, both in North America and Europe, but the excess pollution may have already had a significant public-health effect.
Excess emissions generated by Volkswagen diesel cars between 2008 and 2015 will cause 1,200 premature deaths in Europe, according to a new MIT study (via ScienceDaily).
Published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, the study looked only at the emissions from affected cars sold in VW’s home market of Germany, which researchers pegged at 2.6 million.
That number includes cars sold under the main Volkswagen brand, as well as Audi, Seat, and Skoda.
It also dwarfs the roughly 560,000 cars in the U.S. confirmed to have illegal “defeat device” software, and that are subject to settlements mandating buybacks, modifications, and restitution for owners.
While the diesel vehicles studied were sold only in Germany, their emissions affected people in other European countries, according to the study.
Of the 1,200 premature deaths predicted by the study, 500 were in Germany, while the rest were in other countries.
Read more: Green Car Reports