MIT Study Estimates That VW’s Dieselgate Scandal Will Send 1,200 Europeans To An Early Grave
by David Tracy (Jalopnik) In 2015, Researchers from MIT, Harvard and Hasselt University (in Belgium) estimated that VW’s 482,000 cheating diesels would lead to an estimated 59 premature deaths in the U.S. Now some of those same researchers have taken a look at the 2.6 million TDIs sold in Germany, and the premature death figures are staggering.
The study, which you can read here, estimates that VW’s polluting diesels sold in Germany between 2008 and 2015 will result in 1,200 premature deaths throughout Europe. That figure is in relation to if those TDIs had met Euro 5 emissions regulations from the outset. Of those 1,200 early deaths, 500 are expected to occur in Germany, 60 in Poland, 84 in France, 72 in the Czech Republic and the rest in other nearby European nations.
Perhaps even more worrying is that the study claims that a total of 13,000 life-years have been lost because of the pollution emitted by cheating TDIs between 2008 and 2015, with an average lifespan decrease of 11 years per premature fatality.
The study also delves into health costs associated with those life-years lost, saying VW’s excess pollution has already caused 1.9 billion Euro of damage.
On top of that, the paper discusses how recalls would affect these numbers moving forward, saying that if all vehicles were recalled and brought into emissions compliance at a fixed rate between 2015 and the end of 2017, a total of 2,600 premature deaths could be avoided, 29,000 life-years could be spared, and 4.1 billion Euro could be saved versus if no action were taken.
It’s also worth mentioning that the reason why the premature death toll is so much higher than the 59 predicted for the U.S. involves more than simply sales volumes, the study says. Yes, Germany sold more than two million more affected vehicles, but emissions requirements are different, and the research paper found that Germans also drive 19 percent more per year. This last point could be somewhat confused, since this new study used average miles traveled for diesel vehicles in Germany, whereas the U.S.-based study chose average miles driven by all cars in the U.S. (and diesels are generally thought to be driven longer distances thanks to their superior fuel economy).
In addition, the study says, population density and “more NOx-sensitive background conditions” make Europe more prone to a higher premature death count than the U.S. READ MORE and MORE (Autocar) and MORE (Automotive News Europe)