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Germany to take a second look at dozens of cars with high CO2 output

According to a member of Germany's transport ministry, nearly 60 percent of cars tested had "inexplicably" high carbon-dioxide output.


Leave it to the Germans to be explicitly thorough.

Marie Waldmann/Photothek/Getty Images

Ever since Volkswagen publicly admitted to willfully deceiving diesel emissions tests using specialized software, world governments have been on a witch-hunt, determined to find other automakers engaging in similar shenanigans. While none have been found just yet -- at Volkswagen's level of deception, at least -- some results are still strange.

Case in point: the testing currently taking place in Germany. KBA, the German federal transportation ministry, tested 53 cars from various automakers in the interest of sniffing out defeat devices. Of that group, Automotive News Europe reports that 30 cars had strangely high carbon-dioxide figures.

KBA will be investigating these vehicles further, not because it's proof positive of a defeat device, but because too many pollutants are bad, no matter the reason for their origin. Carbon dioxide is one of the most ubiquitous greenhouse gases, and while it may not have an adverse health effect like nitrogen oxides do, CO2 is nevertheless not great for the environment in copious quantities.

While it's unlikely that an overt defeat device, which senses a lab-testing environment and adjusts pollution control to suit, will be found, post-Volkswagen testing has uncovered some interesting things.

Many diesel vehicles tested have been found to adjust emissions-control settings based on a variety of factors, including altitude and ambient temperature. In most cases, automakers allege these systems are built to adjust themselves in order to prevent engine damage.