Green’ Cars Meltdown As VW Emissions Scandal Rocks Car Industry

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Via The GWPF:

The European car industry was shaken on Monday as Volkswagen’s share price fell almost 20 per cent over its admission that it cheated on US emissions tests, triggering calls for a broader inquiry into the sector. More than €13bn was wiped off VW’s market capitalisation, spurring a wider fall in carmakers’ shares, after Martin Winterkorn, the group’s chief executive, apologised and ordered an external investigation into the affair. he news prompted a fall in carmakers’ shares with Daimler, BMW, Renault and PSA Peugeot Citroën each being sold off amid investor concerns over the potential scale of the cost to VW and the broader industry. VW faces billions of dollars in fines and warranty costs, possible criminal charges for executives and class-action lawsuits from US drivers. –Andy Sharman and Jeevan Vasagar, Financial Times, 22 September 2015

The federal government paid out as much as $51 million in green car subsidies for Volkswagen diesel vehicles based on falsified pollution test results, according to a Times analysis of the federal incentives. Such green car incentives have also gone to buyers of hybrid, electric and hydrogen fuel cell cars. But the EPA does not track aggregate figures for incentives paid out to buyers of specific models or brands. –Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times, 22 September 2015

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Carmakers bombard consumers with marketing about how “clean” and “eco” their products are, but incidents like VW’s software cheating are a reminder that the auto industry has no abiding love for the green ideals it’s peddling. Volkswagen will pay dearly for its transgression, but you can be sure there are many more companies out there—both inside and out of the auto industry—that are taking advantage of the average consumer’s enjoyment of feeling environmentally friendly, without actually delivering the benefits promised. —The American Interest, 22 September 2015

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269 thoughts on “Green’ Cars Meltdown As VW Emissions Scandal Rocks Car Industry

  1. Germany is already reeling under the pressure of hundreds of thousands of ‘refugees’ mainly young males and now this. VW may go bankrupt! Certainly, this is a criminal matter. I have owned VWs in the past several times. Sad end to what was once an interesting corporation.

      • In my opinion the entire Auto Industry needs a re-evaluation of ALL statistics. EPA estimates in particular always seem to be Way Off. MPG estimates should be based on real world driving and should require 3 Actuals rather than estimates.
        For example, My ’98 Dodge Durango has EPA estimates of 11 MPG City and 16 MPG Hwy. I have an onboard computer that displays the actual mileage at any given moment. Driving down City Streets @ 35MPH it says I am getting 13 to 15 MPG after reaching cruising speed. Hwy says 16 to 18 MPG. The system also has a total average for a specified period. My car never reads over 9 MPG total average after 3 tanks of gas usage, presumably from Stops and Starts while driving.
        They should place 5 gallons in the tank and drive around the city until it runs out of gas (3 times then average) Same for Hwy…5 gallons until runs out of gas 3 times then average. Then run 3 tanks of gas of combined city/Hwy driving and average the total actual driving mileage.
        These should be displayed rather than bloated EPA estimates.

      • VW go bankrupt because of this? ROFLMAO! Their TDI sales in the U.S. are a small fraction of their business.
        The problem is with the EPA, not VW. The new NOx standards are far too oppressive for small vehicles. It’s somehow okay to drive around in a 10 MPG Durango but certainly we’re doomed if a 42 MPG TDI has 40% higher NOx emissions than it tested?
        http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/consumer/420f08025.pdf
        Go ahead and look at page 4. Assuming that all of the light duty diesel vehicles are 40% higher on NOx than tested (unlikely), that’s still only 0.2 g/hr higher NOx emissions than the light duty gasoline vehicles. And they still have 50% of the volatile organic carbon, 42% total hydrocarbons, and 10% carbon monoxide.

      • Fortunately, I don’t use it that much. I only burn around 100 gallons of Gasoline in it per year but I need the enclosed hauling room…And it has been paid off for the last 9 years

      • I’m not saying there is anything wrong with driving a Durango or other large vehicles if you need them. I’m just pointing out the EPA’s ludicrous reasoning.

      • I never understood why the EPA forces selective catalytic reduction (SCR) onto the diesel automakers to reduce NOx (which eventually oxidizes to NO2 and combines with VOC + sunlight to cause so-called ground level, photochemical smog). Smog is considered an irritant to those afflicted by asthma and was believed to cause a brown haze, which in the case of Denver, was really eliminated as all the alleyways were paved and the sand spread on roadway ice in winter was either swept back up within 48 hours or eliminated through the wholesale adoption of mag chloride.
        SCR is fine for a steady-running combustion source but it cannot accommodate the fluctuations of a vehicle engine. For the chemistry see Wikipedia:
        The DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) is a 32.5% solution of Urea (NH2)2CO. When the urea solution is injected into the hot exhaust gas stream the water evaporates. The urea thermally decomposes to form ammonia and isocyanic acid:
        (NH2)2CO → NH3 + HNCO
        The isocyanic acid hydrolyses to carbon dioxide and ammonia:
        HNCO + H2O → CO2 + NH3
        The overall reduction of NOx by urea is:
        2(NH2)2CO + 4NO + O2 → 4N2 + 4H2O + 2CO2
        As you can see, 2 CO2 are created for every 4 NO molecules so you get a substitution of a criteria pollutant for an “endangerment” pollutant. But, the problem is below 150C NO readily oxidizes to NO2 and thus the DEF reaction fails, especially when all that water vaporizes and winter’s cooling effects on the exhaust pipes. Also, under stop and go driving the NOx concentration and temperature of the exhaust varies so much that there is a lot of NH3 slippage past the catalyst, which is readily apparent whenever you are behind one of these cars when they accelerate (ALWAYS).
        NH3 has an odor threshold of 5 ppm, a 30 min PEL of 25 ppm and a15 min limit of 35 ppm. It is an irritant to the eyes and mucous membranes, triggering the very responses in asthmatics that were supposed to be reduced by using the SCR to lower PC smog in the first place. While the NH3 is great as fertilizer (as is CO2), it readily forms salts, which add to fine particulate (PM10) loading, an even worse asthma trigger.
        Because the combustion control technology has radically improved since the 80s NOx is only about half the ambient EPA standard today in many cities despite doubling the number of vehicles (thus the Feds want to lower the limits further to ensure their continued employment). Over this time the incidence of asthma has actually increased so, logically it must be “caused” by some other mechanism, no matter what the American Lung Association says.
        A perfect example of junk science “driving” an even worse solution. The conspiratorialist in me thinks the Feds are going after diesels because the liberal fascist administration see diesels as a threat to our mandatory adoption of electric cars due to their high efficiency and phenomenal gas mileage, as the entire rest of the World realized long ago).

      • Immigrants to Germany (according to BBC): 75% males, 10% children, 15% females.
        I’d say that the statement “mainly young males” is correct and accurate. Or do you have a better way of describing 75%?

    • OT but I simply have to object to your putting refugees in quotes. The situation that these people are fleeing from is truly awful.

      • Mike J
        Some of them are true refugees.
        They need, deserve, and must be given help; ideally, they will return to wherever home is, in due course – when it is safe.
        Period.
        However, – as noted – there seem to be a somewhat higher percentage of young fit men in the mix, which – allowing for the greater propensity of young fit men to take a challenge – suggests some are actually economic migrants. They are perhaps from countries that are unpleasant, but not – like Syria – embroiled in a desperate civil war with ISIL – or whatever you want to call those barbarians – and their own Government happily killing at will [barrel bombs, anyone?].
        Merely not liking the Tories doesn’t make Corbyn, automatically, a refugee if he wants to go to – say – Sudan.
        Auto

      • Assumes facts not necessarily in evidence. The fact that conditions may be stressful in certain countries doesn’t mean that THESE refugees are fleeing those conditions. Most appear to be “economic” refugees. Now Europe has it’s own “Mexican” problem.

  2. Same scam as the wind turbines. Pay an arm & a leg in subsidies, and increased energy costs, for no benefit whatsoever. A scam is the nicest word for it. The perpetrators should all be held accountable!

      • Wait a minute! Bigger story here! The EPA and other “government” agencies have been crowing on recent years about how US Carbon emissions have been falling due to Obamas tough new regulations for the auto industries, right? And in those reports, they claim to be able to tell somehow that CO2 in the atmosphere has stabilized/stopped rising etc and they often claim its due to this new fleet of green tech cars and other engines, right?
        BUT, if this newly discovered fraud is real and widespread, then the recent carbon emissions should still be increasing!! AND that makes the “haitus” in temperature increases even MORE profound, right?
        Either they are not REALLY measuring CO2 ppm in the atmosphere (are likely estimating it based upon fraudulent testing software output) and thus they have NO accurate idea of how much CO2 there really is, or they are measuring it, it IS slowing down, and they are falsely correlating it with faked green technology outputs.
        This is huge Anthony…or could be. It’s much bigger than just the swindle going on at VW.

    • What’s that? Comrade Corbyn intends to flee to Sudan? (Future historians will write “The idea started during cheerful banter in the chatroom of the legendary WUWT blog. Years later, from his dusty tent in the Sahara, Corbyn would ponder: ‘How did I get here?’ “.)

    • The federal government paid out as much as $51 million in green car subsidies for Volkswagen diesel vehicles based on falsified pollution test results, according to a Times analysis of the federal incentives.

      And from 1957chev…

      Same scam as the wind turbines.

      Yes, another in a long line of examples of where a rich flow of government money has enabled and encouraged corruption. It does not surprise me that car companies are now joining the list of people and organizations that want a big swig off the US taxpayer teet without even attempting to earn it. Same as climate scientists. That’s why this blog site exists. This happens every time the US government starts throwing social engineering money around – same as post-secondary education, healthcare (just google medicare fraud), green energy (solyndra, et al), and more.
      You have to have a mental disease to believe that giving the US government more of our money will make things better. There is a name for this disease. It’s called liberalism.

  3. Dunno about anybody else, but among average Americans of my acquaintance, the response was generally along the lines of: “Nice hack. Fuck the D.M.V. and all those ‘viro sons of bitches in the government.”

    • +1
      As an American, those were my thoughts. They’re getting fined for supplying America w/excellent miles-per-gallon rating/durable-engine vehicles.

      • A Cummins diesel is a hot item in OZ. A simple programmer puts an extra 175 HP at the rear axle. Tough to find here but can be had. The EPA is having a hissyfit trying to keep the programmer kit out of the country.

      • Yes, but if they were getting green subsidies by trickery, they are defrauding the government.
        If the government happened to buy any of these particular vehicles, VW may be liable for large fines under the False Claims Act.

      • James…ever since I can remember hacks have been finding ways around regulators and regulators are in a constant quivering state of rage about it. In California years ago you had to have your vehicle “smog inspected” don’t know if you still do (probably: haven’t ever seen a regulation yet that doesn’t get more onerous with time) and everybody I knew at least knew somebody that could get any car the certificate no matter what!

      • I can see states with emissions requirements coming with new regulations requiring owners of VWs to certify that they have had their software upgraded before permitting them to get their emissions certifications.
        It’s going to be quite a headache for owners as well.

      • “Yes, but if they were getting green subsidies by trickery, they are defrauding the government.”
        Any government that gives green subsidies deserves to be tricked.

      • KTM at 9:01 am – Yes, but if they were getting green subsidies by trickery, they are defrauding the government.
        Chump change versus Tesla Auto.
        http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/12/21/the-tesla-battery-swap-is-the-hoax-of-the-year/
        The fundamental reason this blog exists is to tell the world about the fraud Tesla is committing. This has resulted in tens of millions dollars’ worth of fraudulent carbon credits being received by the company, and if nothing is done the tally will get into the hundreds of millions. This blog exists not to tell people about EV incentives, but about the illegal incentives a particular EV company is getting.
        Is the amount of ‘Green’ you get from you fraud technique how Green you company is rated?

      • A big part of the problem, as I understand it, is US emissions standards for diesels are based on a g/bhp·hr basis rather than a per mile basis like gasoline vehicles; thus a vehicle like the 330 MPG (0.71L/100 km) APTERA Diesel-Electric Hybrid, could never pass emissions, yet a diesel semi-tractor only getting 6-7 MPG passes.

      • I see a large future market in chip clones of the “performance and mpg over smog goo” current chips for drop in replacement of the EPA mandated “fix” chips…
        My kid had a performance chip for his old BMW and swap took about 2 minutes…
        Wonder if Car Chip Hacker as a programming specialty has legs…

    • If it were PM or CO2 or something else nonsensical, then I would feel the same Beng, but we are talking diesels that emit up to 40 times the allowable NOx emissions. We aren’t talking 10% over the emission limit or some other result of improper optimization, but huge increases.
      Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater here. Ground level ozone is a real environmental and health problem. Furthermore, nonsense like this undermines years of work that we have done to reduce emissions. I don’t want the thousands I spent putting low NOx burners on my boilers wasted because a dozen yuppies bought diesel bugs.

    • Suppose I owned one of those perky Jettas. What if I prefer to keep it so kludged? Can the EPA or DMV force me to honor the recall? How could they track which cars have been “corrected”?

    • +1
      It seems to me that the ECU (Engine Control Unit) was doing its job. It is supposed to optimize performance and emissions for its current environment. Climbing Pikes Peak is a special environment. So is the EPA lab.

    • The author says there are many others out there committing the same or similar offences but does not name anybody or offer any kind of evidence.

      • How about this: The Sierra Club secretly took at least $25 MILLION from the Nat’l Gas industry to mount a war against coal. Would you suggest that such action isn’t ” taking advantage of the average consumer’s enjoyment of feeling environmentally friendly, without actually delivering the benefits promised”?
        This isn’t quite the same as skirting gov’t regs, but so what? The entire Green anti- CO2 agenda is one huge fraud.

      • It’s a pity that you didn’t visit the link the author provided. There’s at least one more example given.

      • The author does not indicate any specific link related to the claim that many other companies are doing it. And of course “many others” is a lot more than 1.

      • So what, Chris?
        Is it your contention that since the author didn’t specifically link to further examples, that there aren’t any other companies out there playing fast and loose with gov’t Green regs?

      • But Bryan –
        They may not make diesels . . . .
        ~Morgan, for example.
        If they do make diesels – and sell them in the US – then there may be a case for examining their inputs and outputs.
        Auto

    • I used to work for a large American company making 4-14Litre diesel engines.
      The emissions were tested on site using an industry standard 13 point test. The engines were run at various load/speed points from idle, up to 100% torque and back to idle, then up again and back to idle.
      The emissions at these particular points were tested and used to calculate an overall result.
      The electronic controls (software) were written knowing what the test points would be, and they would use values specifically for those points to give least emissions.
      I suppose the rest of the Industry did it, so we were just being “competitive”.

      • The key point here is that low CO2 targets and low emissions targets compete with each other in diesel engines. To get lower CO2, you run lean – which results in more pollution.
        The drive to minimize CO2 directly leads to increased harmful ground level pollutants – this is the key message. And it is part of a common theme.
        Adding wind to a power system results in more cold starts of coal plants – which increases real pollution. In the midwest, adding wind has made the operation of existing nuclear plants uneconomic. If/when the nuclear plants are retired, CO2 and real pollution will increase.
        Adding CO2 capture to a coal or gas plant reduces efficiency – which results in more fuel consumption and more emissions of real pollutants.
        TANSTAAFL. Anyone who says otherwise is trying to sell something.

      • Also contracted to the industry as a programmer, and confirm. Controls were written to the test, and the only thing green was the resulting sales dollars. Fuel mileage was similarly divorced from reality. Is there any consumer who doesn’t assume this? Only the government was fooled. So arbitrary rules and huge subsidies created a crime, and a company that will be subject to a huge shakedown and possible destruction. Wouldn’t all have been better off if the government had stayed out of it altogether, letting the car mags test, prices discriminate, and consumers decide. Look at the cars, from the Volt to the “Smart”, that are the result of government policy rather than consumer wishes. Ought to wear the badge, “Dystopian Motors” .

      • There’s a question. Were your “least emissions”, 10% less than the normal running point or some greater number? According to the EPA report, these diesels were emitting 10 to 40 times more NOx during road operation than in testing.
        During stack tests, industry is required to set our control devices to their worst possible settings in order to maximize emissions, and prove that even in that scenario we meet our limits. It’s frustrating the huge double standard between stationary and mobile sources.

      • In New Mexico, the emissions test consisted entirely of hooking the test rig up to the computer and downloading. If the computer did report that there was a problem, then you passed the test.
        If the computer was rigged so that it never reported a problem, even when there was …

      • What your describing I would call tweeking so the sweet-spots are in the correct places, VW actually detected through software when the vehicle was being tested and ran totally different engine parameters.

    • Regulators fake data.
      Surface temperature record government employees fake data.
      The Media publishes easily checked fake data.
      The President speaks lies to the general public regarding fake data.
      Peer reviewed publications regularly fake data.
      It is no surprise that manufactures also use fake data.
      The main thing is private money flows to support all of the above.

      • In our artificially sweetened, partially hydrogenated, bolt-on boobied, tattooed and body-pierced world of liars and cheats, it is plainly evident that to be natural and/or truthful is fast become the hallmark of the rubes and dupes, and a mark of shame.
        Look around you, and if you do not know who the sucker is…it is you!

      • Tis truly a sad world we live in. At least this doesn’t directly kill people. Think about the faked data for drugs to get approval.
        Dr. Marcia Angell, the editor of New England Journal of Medicine for 20 years, wrote the following:
        “It is simply no longer possible to believe much of the clinical research that is published, or to rely on the judgement of trusted physicians or authoritative medical guidelines. I take no pleasure in this conclusion, which I reached slowly and reluctantly over my two decades as an editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.” (NY Review of Books, January 15, 2009)

      • >>At least this doesn’t directly kill people.
        Sure about that?
        If you take $50 billion out of the economy, to power Green pipe-dreams, that is money that could have built hospitals, clinics, flood prevention schemes, city by-passes, pensions, poor-relief, real job creation, community housing etc: etc:
        How many people die in the US, because the infrastructure and social systems are not as good as they could be?
        R

    • Well there is a smart idea. Seriously, that is a really good idea and this “scandal” can carry it forward.

    • Thanks for that! Cheap Trick hails from these parts (northern Illinois), and the “Green Police” ad was great satire! Too bad it came back around to bite VW in the ass!

  4. No harm here, VW is just doing the same thing with their “data” as the EPA is with their’s. Why is this any different than the worthless, biased, studies that the EPA produces proving that lowering ozone from 65 ppb to 60 ppb by claiming it will save millions of lives per year? And all of the other EPA regulation changes that are written only to Kill Coal.

  5. It is quite likely we are all looking at this from the wrong end. It is obvious that if the technology existed for a diesel car to meet the emissions standards as legislated one of the first to have it would be VW. VW is the first to get caught out, and by a non official testing company, but I don’t think they will be the last.
    It may well be that EPA knew this and turned a blind eye to non compliance or gimmickry as long as CO2 was controlled. It may prove to be that the regulations are just aspirational in the hopes that the technology would reveal itself in time thus giving the public the impression that something was being done while allowing vehicles with purported low CO2 to enter the national fleets around the world. It is 11 million cars now apparently.
    As it is just in time for Paris I call Exhaustgate. The overreach of legislation and the absolute destruction of VW may bring about the realisation that you cannot just decree “Green technology”.

    • The software produced better emissions results when emissions were being tested, and better performance when the cars were actually being driven, I believe. The challenge for VW was that regulations set standards for emissions, but they also set standards for performance–mpg–which might have been in conflict. And, of course, there were also requirements set by customers. OK, given much better engineering VW might have been able to satisfy both sets of requirements without the software, but I wonder whether any company has been able to do it. If not, then maybe all the companies are cheating on their diesel engine designs.

      • Direct link to VW in Russia by Gleb Stolyarov of Reuters.
        The ‘power and money principle’ is in play here and people are pissed off about it and are going after VW as a result.
        Regards
        Climate Heretic

      • I had a nagging feeling that there was another agenda at work here, in the same way that some Japanese manufacturers seem to get targetted about faults, whereas US manufacturers don’t for the same eye watering costs.
        German and Jap cars are *very* popular in the US, right ?…

    • What causes most damage N0x or CO2? the EPA concentrate on one and let the other slide…until an independent test shows the truth.

  6. Back in the day the ‘California emissions’ kit on an MGB was simple. An air pump that simply pumped air into the exhaust this lowering the ratio of emissions to air.
    The emissions were unchanged of course, but US regulations dared not look at total; emissions, because that would have banned every single V8 on the market..
    NOx emissions from very lean burn engines – especially diesels – are an issue. But it would be nice if a pragmatic view on them could be taken. After all NOx is the start of an excellent fertiliser.

    • I had an air pump similar to that on my ’74 Fiat 128SL. I don’t think the pump’s action was as simplistic as you state – I believe it provided extra oxygen so that excess hydrocarbons in the exhaust (this thing had a CARBURETOR!) would be burned away.
      But it was noisy and power-hungry so I took it off anyway.

    • Leo, the kit can’t operate as you say. There’s a law against that, one of the oldest ones on the books. It’s called “Artificial Circumvention of the rules”, and it’s one of those compliance points that can get you arrested if you try it, as it’s considered fraudulent reporting and perjury.
      This is also why all stationary source concentration requirements require you to adjust the results to a certain concentration of oxygen, to elminate the effect of dilution.

    • Sure it will be a shakedown, but VW had it coming; after all, everyone knows that the American legal system is a racket. They won’t get off as cheaply as GM either. Toss in a couple of class action suits from disgruntled owners and the Association of Americans Acutely Afflicted by Asthma And Awful Air (AAAAAAAA – o.k., I just made that up), and VW will be lucky if they escape with their corporate life.

      • the entire emissions control system is a sick joke. the European cars don’t even have those costly and power robbing devices. yet they still get very good fuel economy (Jetta has 140 or 150 hp and still great fuel economy which would be better without the controls)
        and yes the system is installed as mine runs like crap when it is in the regeneration mode ….dumping raw fuel into the exhaust to burn particulate which is not the problem that california claims it is and the reason for north american cars to have these devices.

  7. Bah.
    “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin'” is an old NASCAR expression.

    Junior Johnson had this to say about his creativity when it came to building cars:
    “I loved the game. Maybe I’d have four of five new things on a car that might raise a question. But I’d always leave something that was outside of the regulations in a place where the inspectors could easily find it.
    “They’d tell me it was illegal, I’d plead guilty, and they’d carry it away thinking they caught me. But they didn’t check some other things that I thought were even more special.”

    • (Some) washing machine manufacturers have been outed for preparing special machines for the inspectors of power and water ratings.Then back to ‘business as usual’ when the inspectors leave.
      Corporates rule-OK!

  8. “Volkswagen will pay dearly for its transgression” ?
    Your mean “Volkswagen will pay dearly for getting caught”, don’t you? After all, you can’t show me anywhere in the legislation or accompanying regulations that it is illegal for the engine to change modes depending on the outside environment, can you?
    Volkswagen just needs to pay for better lawyers than California has.

    • Yes, putting non-representative samples in an emissions test not only invalidates the test, but it is falsification of documentation. Knowingly doing this is a criminal offense on par with fraud. There are some fairly heft fines and even arrests that can be made based on this.

      • Ummm, it’s falsification of documentation.
        At the very least, it’s a violation of this blanket Federal requirement, the “Artificial Circumvention” rule.
        § 61.19 Circumvention.
        No owner or operator shall build, erect, install, or use any article machine, equipment, process, or method, the use of which conceals an emission which would otherwise constitute a violation of an applicable standard. Such concealment includes, but is not limited to, the use of gaseous dilutants to achieve compliance with a visible emissions standard, and the piecemeal carrying out of an operation to avoid coverage by a standard that applies only to operations larger than a specified size.

    • I suspect that each VW TDI will have a software “update” installed any time they come in for service, and all future cars will be able to have software updates pushed down to them, just like an OS update for your smartphone. I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually cars will download emissions parameters based on GPS location.

  9. The fault is not with VW but with the testing regime.
    VW used a bit of gamesmanship to ensure that its vehicles passed the tests. But this is the real world. The effect of targets is to make people meet targets. Not at all the same thing as achieving the thing that targets are meant to represent!
    If you want to test something, test it – don’t test a proxy for it. Test real emissions under real road conditions. Then VW would have no need to resort to such tactics.
    The fault is also with governments who, in their desire to reduce emissions of plant food into the air, promoted the lower CO2 emitting Diesel vehicles instead of the cleaner petrol vehicles. In the UK the first effect of this was to see Diesel prices fall below petrol prices for the first time in many years. The law of supply and demand kicked in as people replaced their Diesel cars with petrol ones.

      • @ Michael Jankowski September 22, 2015 at 9:53 am
        Not at all. It is what you see when you set acceptance tests for any product or service from engineering to school exams. The effort is to pass the tests not to be more useful in the real world. So the EPA (or whatever tester) could take production engines and bench test them and get the results needed for the bench tests on emissions, the car industry journalists could road test off of the forecourt vehicles and get the performance results they wanted for road tests. The software for the engine management system was designed to pass the test metrics and was successful.
        I think that anyone trying to sue Volkswagen may find it rather difficult as the letter of the law for the tests was probably followed with careful precision. The test designers failed in that they did not realize that car engines could be intelligent enough to realize they were being bench tested rather than driven on the road.
        It is the test designers that have failed.

    • Years ago I read about a company that had developed a rig that used a laser to measure emissions of vehicles as they passed by.
      The company proposed replacing emissions stations and putting these on freeway onramps along with a camera to capture license plates.
      365 days a year, log those cars that were actually polluting, and send them a fix-it ticket.

      • That’s already here, but in reverse. This past year, I received a letter from the BMV – since I had passed one of these stations several times in the past 3 months (I saw them on the freeway on-ramp), and was in compliance, I did not need to do the emissions test for my plate renewal. I’m not too thrilled about being ‘tracked’ but at least it saved me some time.

  10. I believe similar scandals might unfold in the air-conditioning industry, where the US government is demanding ever higher ‘seasonal energy efficiency ratings’ (SEER).
    The A/C industry have been continually improving the energy efficiency over the past few decades, such that any further gains tend to be made in the software that controls the physical engine. The actual hardware has been mostly optimized to the limit of profitability. So current optimizations are usually done via software, adjusting duty cycles etc. to shave off the residual inefficiencies, while also keeping a keen eye on the price-performance ratio.
    It would be very easy to make the software report efficiency gains that don’t really exist.
    Just saying.

      • Just so I’m clear – you can’t tell the difference between nitrous oxides, sulphur dioxide, particulates, deadly carbon monoxide — and carbon dioxide, the essential gas for all photosynthetic life forms and all life forms that consume them for their own energy and body mass. Do I have that right? While I await your reply I’ll enjoy a nice fizzy drink.

    • I believe that the serious concern with diesel engines is particulates — which plausibly could be something you don’t want a lot of being inhaled by pedestrians when there are a lot of diesel engine cars sitting in one of mankind’s more or less perpetual urban traffic jams. It’s not clear that this issue has anything much to do with particulates.

  11. Who gives a shit other than the odious EPA? Consumers get a car with some poke instead of some Eco barge and basically nobody loses.
    Shame VW didn’t tackle it by being honest and calling enough on these increasingly draconian emissions targets which add cash to the purchase and maintenance of cars for little benefit

    • It made me laugh (yet again) at the ingenious ways real people find to work around bureaucratic BS. We humans are a creative lot when we try.
      We had a similarly entertaining experience in the UK a few years ago, when the Gov declared that when patients arrived at a hospital, they would be guaranteed to be seen by a doctor or nurse within ten minutes (or whatever the figure was). Fast forward a year. You go into the hospital, and a junior nurse (the “greeter”) greets you with a smile and directs you to the waiting room. Yes, you still have to wait in there for hours, just like last year, but you have been seen by a nurse within the target time, so target met …

      • If you show up at an ER and are not bleeding on their floor, you had better be unconscious.
        I am a veteran of ER’s the country over, having discovered every single way to get injured ever invented…so far.
        Truly, they take those, who would be upsetting to the crowd, first.

      • >>Yes, you still have to wait in there for hours, just
        >>like last year, but you have been seen by a nurse
        >>within the target time, so target met …
        Yup. I had a similar experience.
        The new hospital target was that all operations had to be done within two weeks. So what they did, is to ban all appointments outside two weeks. So they could not give you an appointment, because the appointment book was full, and they would give you a call when a booking might be possible. So you waited three months for the operation, but the appointment book never went beyond two weeks.
        Targets ticked, and the fraud was maintained….
        In reality, what Tony Blair did, is to legitimise and promote dishonesty across all departments. And so now dishonesty has invaded every aspect of governmental and commercial life. Everyone knew that each and every bureaucratic target was a complete fabrication, but everyone went along with the fabrications.
        And don’t get me onto the modern fabricated education exam frauds…..
        R

  12. The bigger scandal is how the EPA allowed this, and probably other, cheaters to prosper for half a decade.
    The EPA is supposed to validate each car”s emissisons.

  13. I can think of 51 MILLION reasons that not only VW, but how many other car manufacturers are doing the same identical thing? As long as there is this thingy called “Subsidies” being paid BY GOVERNMENT, everyone is going to do all they can to get their “fair share” of them. End the subsidies and you end most of the reasons behind the cheating.

  14. What VW did is particularly interesting: it wasn’t a case of some fortuitous setup that was allowed to go through, but a specifically programmed change in engine behavior when an OBDII (or EOBD in Europe) query is run. I’m no expert, but I’d guess it would be one or all of Mode 1, mode 5, or mode 7, most likely Mode 1. Mode 1 is where you continually access onboard monitoring, with mode 5/mode 7 being additional checks for trouble shooting.
    Trivial indeed to change the engine controls to a more test friendly output since the same unit which feeds the OBDII/EOBD is the one which controls the engine (the ECM). For that matter, I wouldn’t be shocked if there weren’t “MPG” modes set for cars used in mpg evaluations – that combined with hypermiling drivers can squeeze a lot of extra mpg during tests.

    • Are you sure that is what they did? The note from EPA says that the “switch” (their words) was based on detecting driving conditions (steering wheel position, accelerator position and time, plus some others). I have yet to find anything specific on this, nor any detail on what the changes were which were applied to reduce the NOx.
      The only explanation I can find is that the low NOx was produced by injecting liquid urea into the exhaust gas before the catalytic converter (technology referred to – strangely – as blue-diesel). One report mentioned a UK study from 2014 accusing the industry of only injecting the urea when the car was accelerating. I could see that the need to keep re-filling the urea tank would be a reason for a car maker to program such an intermittent injection and making sure that it was working constantly during an emissions test, but it does smack of poor judgement from the car manufacturer.

      • Back-in-the-day, they put some sort of meter at the tailpipe to measure actual emissions. Last time I lived somewhere with a test (2010), they hooked up a computer to the car’s computer and accepted those results as gospel.

      • I’m reading elsewhere that the change was primarily a shift in how much outside air was pumped into the exhaust, but the trigger is basically what is outlined above.
        For one thing, emissions testing doesn’t always use the “rollers”, so just examining wheel position (lack of) change, etc isn’t sufficient. I just had a smog testing for my car – and all that was done was to run the engine with the OBDII plugged in. The CAN bus connects all the data together though, so ultimately adding the extra refinement of pedal/steering wheel change measurement is simply a further refinement to the base principle.
        VW cars don’t use urea, BTW, unlike apparently all their competitors.
        Now we know why.

      • From what I’m understanding is the reason for the “Cheat” is to improve performance at the expense of nitrogen oxides emissions, so I suspect they are altering boast pressures and injector timing among other things; nitrogen oxides increase with temperature, as does efficiency.
        The VW adverts I’ve been seeing have gone to great lengths to stress TDIs got “Non-Diesel” performance and acceleration, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the fed trade commission get involved for deceptive advertising as well.

      • @Paul Jackson
        Indeed. Ironically, the reason for the ECM gaming is that the settings which yield higher mpg also yield higher NOx. Thus the ECM to set the engine for optimal NOx output during testing and a different setting to optimize gas mileage in everyday use.

      • I’m not 100% sure, but I’m pretty damn sure.
        For one thing, if all that was checked was steering wheel, etc – then this would get triggered in all sorts of situations including when you’re sitting in the car, idling with the air conditioner on, waiting for your kid/wife/friend to finally come out.
        The first filter needs to be that testing is going on – and the OBDII/EOBD queries is how testing is done these days. The rollers only are used for cars before 1995 in the US which don’t have OBDII systems, and before 2000 in Europe for EOBD. A good hint is that the system also checks the status of the monitoring equipment – the last smog check I went through, the monitoring data was all fine but my first check failed because, as it turned out, the computer which regulates the O2 sensor was misfiring.
        As someone who has done some entrepreneurial investigation into OBDII – there are increasingly more and more secondary services based on OBDII access. I have a $12 bluetooth + OBDII device which allows me to read OBDII data directly on my cell phone, and there are commercial devices which allow you to install an LCD plus OBDII which then permits customized dashboard displays. This doesn’t even take into consideration the reality that you can patch the ECM firmware like a wireless router, modem or other hardware device these days to change performance to your liking.

  15. If VW had to do this then it’s a fair bet that to produce an engine that does good MPG with power and ultra low emissions is an un obtainable goal and therefore should be recognised as such.
    More to the point is perhaps the “dodgy” data on emissions and particulates that the “greens” have produced. I live a very rural part of the UK with low vehicle numbers and yet we are told that we have high emissions ( it’s the fertiliser )

  16. VW, EPA. We are witnessing the beginning of real damage imposed by the team on basically everybody. Emissions by humans have no effect on anything except may help plants grow better. Basically if people in developed countries are so stupid as to allow this to continue they are going to exterminate themselves LOL

  17. Let the campaign donations to the U.S. election fly. Here it comes. That also means they are paying for at least one convention, complete with fake columns on the stage production. Some hefty donations to the Clinton Foundation are also in order.

  18. ” Watts ” the big deal ??? All they did was ” ADJUST ” the data , you know , just like the EPA, NASA, NOAA etc….The list is very long !!!

    • Yep! And for once this time the evidence really is ‘locked in’ for the future. Those guys n girls will be absolutely sh*****g it.

  19. I love this. A huge multinational corporation flying the green flag and beloved of treehuggers worldwide once again found out to be nothing more than stinking hypocrites lusting after filthy lucre. See you in Paris, VW…

    • Yeah, my brother said the same thing. Buy opportunity, especially if you look at the long term. After all, Volkswagen also owns Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Porsche, Lamborghini, and Ducati, among others.

  20. The car was programmed to know when it was on a testing treadmill and change its tuning accordingly. Probably one set of tires spinning and the second set not spinning was the “test detector”. VW got caught when a private testing company put the test gear in the trunk and tested on the road. There will be no way for VW to claim any purpose for such detectors and enabling software other than “deliberately cheating the test” That’s a criminal offense and powerful evidence of “conspiracy”. Somewhere, somehow, corporate heads must roll on this one. It’s a BIG deal that goes far beyond “taking advantage of loopholes in the rules”. Problem for U,S, car owners is going to be a significant loss in mileage and power when the cars are “un-tricked”. In addition to its other problems, a class action suit against VW representing owners who bought one thing and wound up with another after it was “fixed” is almost certainly waiting in the wings.
    Last time I saw anything close to the seriousness of this one, where so many people had to have known, was the Enron debacle.

    • Could you please tell me where this information comes from? I am trying to find out just what it is that VW did – both in terms of reducing NOx and detecting when the car was being tested and your post is the first one I have seen with some details.
      EPA’s reference to a “switch” is misleading as they themselves say it was based on detecting certain driving conditions. Also, the headline technology for reducing NOx in tailpipe emissions is through injection of urea into the exhaust gases upstream from the catalytic converter, which would not be affected by engine tuning.

      • Rob, urea injection is used for high displacement diesels (Daimler Blutec is an example). These VW engines are all 4 cyl 2.0 liter turbo direct injection (TDI). No reference to urea injection.
        NOX increases markedly with lean burn, but so does MPG. Fairly certain that on test dynos, the software controlled the TDI to min NOX, then under road conditions to max MPG. Just stoichiometry control. Easy with electronic TDI. Just illegal.

    • It appears there’s no cheating involved. They gamed the definitions under the law to get the result they needed. They used a loophole. It may contravene the spirit of the regulation, but met the letter of the regulation. EPA needs to have smarter people writing their regulations.

      • DJ Precisely. EPA also need less lazy testers and start driving the test cars. Although the entire EPA charade is based on junk science of straight line projection of figures just like climate ‘science’. Asthma is caused by homes being too sterile and clean for babies and toddlers. But you cannot tax people based on lack of dust and dirt so EPA do not want to cure/help asthma, they want money and/or to close less green favored industries.

    • Last time I saw anything close to the seriousness of this one, where so many people had to have known, was the Enron debacle.

      I first thought of the GM ignition switch, which is even more apropos.

  21. First they were caught rigging LIbor bank rates and the main man got 14 years in jail.
    Now they’ve been caught rigging emissions data which will result in $billions in fines and almost certainly jail for senior execs.
    Would anyone fancy being in the shoes of the worlds climate data-fixers?

  22. Did the cars have two operating modes, normal and test? Was that against any law? I mean specifically, did a law get broken? If you had to pass a breathalyzer test, would you attempt to hyperventilate before the test?

    • Conspiracy to pervert the law and false advertising for sure.
      Leveraging green tax regimes on false grounds would bring down Capone. VW also.
      If deaths from NOx air pollution can be proven then they may have even more problems.

    • Yes. Under normal driving conditions with ‘ defeat device’ ‘off’ the diesels emitted up to 40x max permitted NOX. They could not have been legally sold.

      • I am skeptical of the 10-40X claims in isolation of reality. Under normal operation, like when you step on the accelerator hard, (the fuel injectors dump fuel hard) A controlled test scenario is one thing. Dealing with a tailgater or wacky real-world situations is another. Starting a car is yet another, The injector/air and ignition settings at start are not “EPA ideal”
        So when the EPA test wonk claims 10- 40X, what is he comparing it to? Which situation.
        Starting a car cold yields 10-40X emission excursions. …..EPA hyperbole. again.
        Just you wait.

  23. VW is still more competent than the UN.
    “The chief of
    the United Nations nuclear
    agency acknowledged Monday
    that samples used to determine
    whether Iran tried to develop
    a nuclear weapon were collected
    by the Iranians instead of
    agency experts, but insisted the
    probe stands up to strict agency
    standards.”

  24. It is interesting that VW immediately admitted fault when called out for their transgression. Especially since, as stated above, there were no laws of regulations broken. It is highly likely that as Erik Idle said on Monty Python: “Wink wink nudge nudge. Say no more, say no more.” With both the EPA and the auto industry under immense pressure from the greens, collusion appears to be their only way out. Congress could have a field day with this if they chose to actually investigate.

    • There were several laws broken. Submitting non-representative data is falsificaiton of official records. Presenting knowingly false information to an agency is fraud. Signing these statements is perjury.
      I’m in environmental compliance. This is going down the list of the few ways you can actually get arrested by the EPA.

      • So if I tune a vehicle to get a certain result “while under test” as required by the law which doesn’t mention “while on the road”, how have I broken the law? And don’t jabber about “intent”. The law is what is written, not how you’d like it to be.

      • No. You are wrong. The car did not report false data. It’s data was true and accurate. What was not representative of the test requirements, was the secondary tests wherein the EPA loaded a bunch of ad-hoc equipment into the VW and drove it around, NOT in a test environment. I am sure any other vehicle will also fail, and they have. BTW.
        It seems to me that VW was astute to optimize the test scenario and the EPA was sinister in its departure from the calibrated test bed.
        The data was no falsified. The car was run optimally in a test environment when it was required to do so.
        If you don’t like the result then change the test to one where the test runs 24-7 all the time connect to the EPA overlords via satelite. I am sure the psychopaths in the EPA would have a w3t dream over that potentiality.

      • DJ, I’ll be frank, my experience is with stationary sources, not mobile. In my incinerators, when I do a stack test, we have to maximize rates and minimize temperatures and oxygen. In short, we are required to test on ABSOLUTE MAXIMUM emissions, and straying past the test points on those parameters is a finable deviation. This is obviously not the case on cars, but there are other rules that must be followed.
        Paul, there are blanket rules at play that all samples must be representative. If, for instance, you have to take a weekly sample of cooling tower water, and you shut off your heat exhangers for three hours before the test in order to clear the system, then you are getting an artificially low sample. That’s particularly eggregious, but pre-filtering or selecting samples is specifically banned. Presenting such data as representative of normal operations is considered fraud.
        The phrase of importance is “artificial circumvention”. This is a broad strokes requirement that you cannot use any “artificial” means to meet limits without actually reducing emissions. The fact that the car’s emissions were so different between test and driving (not a bit higher, but multiple times that of the test) falls into this category. The engine during testing was not representative of the engine during driving. This rule was written specifically to address people making such juvenile claims as yours.

      • Paul, I think you are right. It appears to me this dust up is just the EPA trying to make up for it’s own stupidity in rule making. They got caught with their pants down so they’re trying top place the blame on VW for not following the ‘intent of the rules’ rather than the actual wording of the rules..

      • A couple of things.
        Joe Crawford…yup!
        The EPA jumped in with a cockamamie kludged apparatus and made all sorts of claims of VW and the EPA did not disclose that the hostile test driver was doing brake stands up a hill and engine baking down the hill after jack rabbit stop-starts. The technician, like they accused VW, gamed their EPA test to super-fail the VW. That is fraud.
        I have an aftermarket computer on my car.
        I tested my car as per the “EPA requirements” for the inspection sticker, then I pulled the computer completely out and installed an aftermarket computer. It took 45 minutes to swap it out.
        I predict that OBDII devices will appear that will enable the user to customize their car regardless of what the EPA psychopath overlords want.
        Here is how to REFLASH your ECU.

      • Thanks Paul. I was wondering how long it would take the enthusiasts to crack the engine computers. Years ago, until it got too expensive and my job requiring way too much time, I enjoyed rallying, autocrossing and a bit SCCA racing. Back then it was all mechanical tuning, both engine and suspension. And, there were always few (more) nuts around that would spare no expense for a 1/10 second edge. Combine that with an enjoyment for hacking and today’s cars don’t stand much of a chance. I wonder how much it would hurt sales if the manufactures tried to shut it down?

      • @benofhouston September 23, 2015 at 5:26 am
        I’m guessing, and I have nothing to support my guess, that any number of people reviewed this protocol before implementing the “switch” and that they were intimately familiar with the nuts and bolts of the standards. I will suggest that when the dust settles that there will have been much heat and little fire. I’m thinking that a lot of what is true regarding stationary sources doesn’t fly for mobile sources for a number of reasons. Rangeability for one. What’s the turndown ratio for most stationary sources, 10 to 1 at most, more like 3 to 1 typical? A motor vehicle while cruising is possibly, 80 to 1? And when passing maybe 500 to 1? No engine can be economically designed to hit the “sweet spot” under all possible conditions. And if Paul Westhaver is correct regarding the ad hoc testing that generated the 10X to 40X readings, we still don’t know what the “real” emission levels are. I have doubts that the EPA wrote a mobile emissions standard that is a tight as you think. Time will tell.

    • It appears that the epa and vw have been batting this thing around since 2014 and has only come to a head due to the epa refusing to approve the 2016 range of vw`s
      more media hype/info to follow in the coming days before a `nearer the truth` story emergesthe

  25. I think there are a few misunderstandings being presented in these comments. The technology for clean diesel certainly does exist, but its expensive. VW is/was the only German manufacturer selling diesels in the US without the complicated (expensive) urea exhaust treatment systems. And now we know why. This is nothing more than VW trying to gain a competitive advantage. And now they’ll (rightfully so) get nailed to the cross for it.

    • Thanks Patrick. This answers my question about whether it was the urea exhaust treatment, but it doesn’t answer what the change was that resulted in reduced NOx and why it was important to only apply this during the emissions test.

  26. Perhaps this will also raise awareness that hybrids and electric cars use electricity which is (statistically) mostly produced from coal. Until the buyer can specify what source he buys electricity from, there is nothing “green about these cars, particularly when it comes to battery life expectancy and disposal issues.

    • Even then, the electricity running into someone’s home can come from multiple different sources regardless of what they’re paying for. Electricity is electricity. Unless your source of electricity and the delivery grid it’s connected to are isolated from other sources then there’s no way to really discern which electron is from wind/solar and which electron is from coal. Paying more money for wind/solar sources is nothing but a feel-good exercise.

  27. Well, VW owns Audi, Lamborghini and Porsche too so anyone who thought they were ‘greenies’ were sadly mistaken anyway. I guess this is how the 720hp, 6.5l, V12 Lambo Aventador gets 18MPG!

    • To be fair to them, that is not hard to believe when a vehicle is that small and lightweight and is operated prudently. For some perspective, I own a 2008 F-250 crew cab powered by a 6.4 V8, 650 ft./lb. diesel which regularly gives me 17 mpg on the interstate. However,in city driving it is around 13 mpg, and towing a 3-horse trailer with living quarters on a vacation outing, my best has been 9 mpg. It’s mostly about the weight and aerodynamics, but my truck weighs as much as about 3 Priuses, so it roughly gets the same fuel economy for it’s mass. You just can’t cheat the laws of physics.

  28. The more efficient an engine is, the greater its CO2 and water vapor emissions are in comparison to the remaining compounds in its exhaust, or so I was led to believe in the 70’s, when “clean burning” meant only producing these (harmless) byproducts.
    Has this been falsified by recent advances in physics? (Inquiring mind wants to know.)

  29. Let’s have a show of hands.
    How many people think that those crafty German engineers were the only ones who thought this up, and are the sole company to implement this feature in their Engine Control Module software?

    • Hmmm,,, now did VW create the software or was it contracted and if so was it, or a variation of it, sold to other manufactures.
      Hmm, RICO anyone? LOL
      michael

  30. What has actually been ‘discovered’ here? If it’s the case that the engine management system does something like lean the air fuel ratio when the engine is idling then interpreting that as a deliberate attempt to fix the emissions test is plain wrong – I actually hope it is the case because this could backfire in a very big way on the EPA. In the UK a vehicles emissions are tested by running the engine until normal operating temperature is reached and then the exhaust gasses are tested. There is no switch that is used to enable a testing mode in the EMU; the EMU simply regulates the air fuel mix to achieve best combustion at that particular engine operating point. Interestingly VW’s director has called for an external investigation?

    • The EPA runs the car on a treadmill called a “Dynometer” to have the same effect. The car can sense that the back wheels aren’t turning, and it apparently adjusted it’s engine to greatly lower the NOx below requirements. However on the road, it emitted 40 times the limit.
      I believe the EU uses the same method.

    • Really high risk in the face of a government that passed “cash for clunkers” and really wants to get us all out of cars and into mass transit & rabbit warrens.

  31. Maybe VW should just offer to blow some smoky air through a large filter in LA to make amends. Or pump some CO2 into a hole in the ground or something. Somebody at the EPA would fall for that kind of trick.
    Anyway, I hope they still go ahead and buy the Red Bull Formula1 Racing team.

  32. Goes back to the old rule, money is truly the root of all evil. For the EPA, getting and keeping a job, money, requires falsifying data and analysis, same for political positions, green and corporate donations equal getting elected. Why think corporations are immune from this? For the socialists, it works just the same, getting to the higher echelons of the party gets one more benefits, pay ……..money. No profession, political philosophy or even religion is immune. Morality and truth are corrupted and always, in the end, it is money.

  33. This reminds me of an experience I had working with a company trying to make a new wood stove that meets the new draconian EPA particulate requirements. In order to pass the testing and certify the stove they had to create a specific method to stack the wood, pre burn a nice warm coal bed, etc so that they could get a clean burn for the test. The test is also done with 4×4’s and 2×4’s, not irregular pieces of wood. They passed by ensuring that there was no chance that a piece of wood could shift to the front of the stove instead of straight down. Any wood shifting to the front would result in over 1000% increase in particulate. Impossible to actually meet the requirements under any real world condition.

    • As with anything the EPA touches, one-size-must-fit-all. Especially frustrating when you can’t dampen down your new woodstove because of EPA mandates. The woodstove burned seasoned pine at the correct rate, but when burning dry oak the stove burned way too hot and too fast. Don’t the genius scientist working for the EPA realize that homeowners out in the middle of nowhere burn different types of wood? And that are nearest downwind neighbor a mile a way isn’t concerned about “particulate” and could not care less. Solution? Plug 1/2 the draft vents built into the stove. Will I now be prosecuted for illegal woodstove modification?

  34. Here are somw quotes from an article on how VW did it, and why it is illegal.
    “Volkswagen “manufactured and installed” sophisticated software, known under federal law as “defeat devices,” which can be programmed to detect when vehicles are being tested to meet emission requirements, officials said.”
    “[The device] senses whether the vehicle is being tested or not based on various inputs including the position of the steering wheel, vehicle speed, the duration of the engine’s operation and barometric pressure,” the violation notice reads. “These inputs precisely track the parameters of the federal test procedure” used for EPA certification, it reads.”
    Volkswagen Uses Software to Fool EPA Pollution Tests
    EPA charges that the German automaker installed emissions-control software designed to work only during tests
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/volkswagen-uses-software-to-fool-epa-pollution-tests/

    • They will need access to the source code for the emu to prove that that was the intent. Do they have that already, or are they just guessing ?. I feel that VW may have dug themselves into a deep hole by playing mea culpa here.
      Engine control is always a devils compromise between performance, drivability, polution and economy and you can’t optimise all 4 that under all driving conditions. It’s a well known fact that manufacturers have been gaming the system over emissions control for decades to provide cars that are actually usable vs overarching state regulation which has no relevance to real world conditions…

  35. Regarding computers, a simular cheat was discovered when GPU (graphics processor unit) manufactor Nvidia was caught some years ago, making drivers that was detecting test software, resulting in better test results then actual.

  36. Sorry this may be off topic, but it is related. It appears that fiddling with the car’s electronics emissions systems is illegal, even if the car is for “off road use only”.
    Casper’s Electronics Inc. Clean Air Act
    The Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today a landmark settlement requiring Casper’s Electronics, of Mundelein, Ill., to pay a penalty and stop selling devices that allow cars to release excess levels of pollution into the environment, in violation of the Clean Air Act (CAA).
    http://www2.epa.gov/enforcement/caspers-electronics-inc-clean-air-act

    • Ye gods and little fishes, have they never seen truck racing on T.V.? The particulates from these things are so bad it is sometimes not possible to see the trucks. Perhaps all motor racing is to be banned as not complying with USEPA clean air regulations.

    • Engines have been “chipped” for more performance for decades, but if this is now to be considered illegal, dozens or even hundreds of auto tuning companies will be put out of business. State control over everything as the US turns into an authoritarian state afraid of it’s own shadow.
      I’m really thankfull I live in the uk and not the states…

  37. If you play the cAGW CO2 eco sham game eventually you will loose.
    It is sad to see the sham science of globull warming creeping into engineering!
    Engineers should have the b@lls to speak plainly about the global warming fear narrative.

  38. And yet, despite hundreds of thousands of non-compliant cars on the roads, there was no huge swell of pollution, no cases of hundreds of people dropping dead in the cities as VW diesels roared past. Hmmmm.

    • But the ozone level might have risen–especially of other makers have been using the same dodge.
      Consequently, the ozone-reduction measures the EPA is proposing may not be necessary, so long as this dodge is removed from autos.

    • there is in Europe as they have been embracing (actually encouraged) diesel. Now they realise that yes CO2 output is down but actual pollution is waaaay up and actually causing health problems

  39. No big deal. VW only has to produce charts showing what their computer models “projected” the mileage and emissions to be, showing that by 2100 the emissions from these particular vehicles will be zero.

  40. Our Passat cc had such a clean exhaust tail pipe not a speck of soot on it, at 3 yrs old when it was
    Mot tested the emissions were zero. The garage checked another car and got a reading, rechecked the Passat still showed zero pretty good I reckon.

    • My daughter has a 2008 Mustang GT 5-speed convertible that also has clean shiny insides to the exhaust pipes. Approaching 100,000 miles and the tailpipes are still shiny clean inside. As a ‘car guy’ and retired mechanical engineer, I’m impressed. Ford, you done good.

  41. MPG goes down when all the emissions equipment is operating on a modern diesel engine. So you can either have great mpg with some dirt or so-so mpg with less dirt.
    I wonder which actually results in more pollution.
    Kind of like how ethanol in gas is supposed to be cleaner but you have to burn more of it since your mpg drops with ethanol.

    • I believe that used to be an issue with the early pollution control equipment in the American gas-guzzler era. The equipment reduced carbon monoxide and smog pollution, but also drastically reduced engine power. The response of the manufacturers was to fit massive engines which achieved as little as 3mpg, so as to restore the performance. The overall consequence was more pollution, not less.
      Which shows that making regulations is a bit like asking a genie for a wish. You will get what you asked for. But, it may not be what you wanted.

    • Though, pure ethanol burns very cleanly, so if we were able to make synthetic fuel from fusion or whatever, ethanol or isopropanol would be ideal choices, especially as they would burn in most existing IC engines with a little remapping. In principle a much cheaper and better solution than replacing all existing vehicles with electric ones.

  42. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_Claims_Act
    “The American Civil War (1861–1865) was marked by fraud on all levels, both in the Union north and the Confederate south. During the war, unscrupulous contractors sold the Union Army decrepit horses and mules in ill health, faulty rifles and ammunition, and rancid rations and provisions, among other unscrupulous actions. In response, Congress passed the False Claims Act on March 2, 1863, 12 Stat. 696. Because it was passed under the administration of President Abraham Lincoln, the False Claims Act is often referred to as the “Lincoln Law”.
    Importantly, a reward was offered in what is called the qui tam provision, which permits citizens to sue on behalf of the government and be paid a percentage of the recovery. Qui tam is an abbreviated form of the Latin legal phrase qui tam pro domino rege quam pro se ipso in hac parte sequitur (“he who brings a case on behalf of our lord the King, as well as for himself”) In a qui tam action, the citizen filing suit is called a “relator”. As an exception to the general legal rule of standing, courts have held that qui tam relators are “partially assigned” a portion of the government’s legal injury, thereby allowing relators to proceed with their suits.”

  43. I have an E-Class Benz with a 3.0 L turbo diesel, excellent engine, more torque than you’d expect. That system uses Adblue which is a DEF liquid that scrubs the exhaust stream of particulates (which is likely the problem with the VWs, not CO2.) I understand the VWs don’t or didn’t yet use that system which makes getting a diesel to pass a strict particulate test very difficult. Consequently, most modern pickups with diesels use the Adblue system, as do semi trucks. You can fill the DEF tank at most good truck stops, it’s required about every 10,000 miles.

  44. The EPA has been in a feud with VW going back 15 years when they were pressuring VW to develop a hybrid and abandon marketing a diesel powerplant passenger car in the US market. California went so far as to ban the sale of VW TDIs in 2005. Of course in this latest complaint against VW the EPA is using the public health threat of nox, which is complete nonsense. I bought a new TDI Jetta back in 2004 and it was one of the best cars I have ever owned with mileage at 42/52. Never did anything beyond routine maintenance with 265,000 happy miles in all weather extremes. Just my opinion, but the gov’t should get out of the emission business.

  45. I want to see VW challenge the constitutionality of the California’s emission scheme. If a farmer’s whet production can distort the market, certainly added cost of cars in the largest market is an infringement on the commerce clause.

  46. In the UK when Gordon Brown was PM (which says it all) he wanted everyone driving diesels to lower CO2 emissions. Vehicles were taxed (we pay an annual fee for the privilege of driving a car in the UK), prior to this at a fixed rate for all cars, then Brown introduced bands of road tax from £0 to £400. As a result the law of unintended consequences kicked in, because although diesels produce less CO2, they produce even more noxious gases, some of which are carcinogenic. In the USA there are very few diesel cars and your cities are not as polluted as ours. Paris bans cars with even/odd numberplate numbers every other day, due to this pollution. If anyone has been stuck behind a bus or car belching out black clouds of smoke they will know exactly what am talking about. Of course the other way of dealing with the problem is to have forward facing exhausts.
    This is not the first time that the law of unintended consequences has struck when politicians who don’t have a clue with regard to motor vehicles have drafted ill thought out legislation. In the 1970’s California brought in strict emission laws, cubic capacity of engines had to increase, to maintain performance, as did fuel consumption, the Gulf States raised the cost of oil and Western economies took a downturn. On top of that lead was removed from petrol, its octane was lowered, again higher fuel consumption and the petrol had a greater percentage of benzene which is a 1000 times more toxic than lead.

    • Don’t forget that demands for ever-lower NOx emissions also killed the turbine car, as Chrysler couldn’t afford to keep redesigning it every time they met the requirements and the government came out with new ones. A car which could run on just about any liquid that burns, and could have significantly reduced US reliance on foreign oil.

  47. I would say that public transport is far more polluting in cities than passenger cars. Having lived and worked in Edinburgh, Stoke-on-Trent, Derby and Nottingham and now moved to France I regularly visit Poitiers and Limoges. Of all these cities the ones with the least unpleasant air are the two French cities. This is, in my opinion, down to the fact that Limoges has electric trolley buses and Poitiers natural gas fueled buses. It should also be noted that France has a very high percentage of diesel cars, probably about 70%. The UK cities have diesel buses and taxis and a much lower percentage of diesel cars, probably less than 50%.

    • In UK cities the smoky diesel bus problem is far more prevalent than the smoky diesel car problem, and in most cases it’s simply a case of lack of injector maintenance rather than the need for any hi-tech filters. Basically the way to make a profit running a bus service is to minimize your overheads. Smoky diesel trains are an equally common sight. The ones that don’t generally smoke are the larger diesel trucks, the haulage companies seem to do their maintenance better.

  48. The big scam is the arbitrary and capricious regulatory world that promotes diesel automobiles! Ever been to a European city (where diesels are replete)? There’s a dirty line about 12′ feet up all the structures from diesel particulate. Now where supposed to be surprised that diesels really aren’t that clean. Seriously, who are they/we kidding other then ourselves? It’s comparable to having spent 5 decades of my life watching the NFL and insisting there is no way those guys get head injuries, they’re wearing helmets.

  49. Does this not imply that all of Europe is based on cheating in air quality compliance, to go along with cheating in the carbon trading scheme? BTW, How many diesel cars are in Paris?

  50. VW was using common practice they use in Europe. Cheating to pass unreal limits with unreal consumption and emissions. And all people are paying for this as CO2 and emission taxes…
    In most EU countries diesel is tax subsidized against gasoline, this is bending market and people things that diesel much fuel efficient than gasoline. On one side there are ridiculous taxes on fuel, like 100 – 150% this is causing people to look for every chance to save some money spent on fuel. And because taxes are lower on diesel together with bigger energy content of diesel and bigger efficiency of diesel engine they are naturally choosing diesel engines.
    Real efficiency of diesel is like 15% higher than gasoline engine, but this is reduced by bigger weight of diesel engine. On highway there is almost no impact of bigger weight so it is 15%.
    But in the city, in start/stop environment bigger weight of car is reducing efficiency to around 7%.
    So in world without bent market of taxes where cost of fuel reflects just its value and production costs diesel would be interesting only for small group of people who are traveling a lot and big distances. In this application diesel is fine and its use is well justified.
    Other people after taking into account higher maintenance cost of diesel, disadvantages of turbo diesel: need cooling before switching off, need to be on working temperature when using full power, long heating would rather prefer gasoline engine.

    • >>Real efficiency of diesel is like 15% higher than
      >>gasoline engine, but this is reduced by bigger
      >>weight of diesel engine.
      You sure about that?
      My all alloy twin turbo European diesel is the same size as any other 4-cyl engine. And produces 50 mpg in mixed driving, for a large 5-door saloon. And that was checked with pump usage, as well as the flow-meter. And my diesel has the same power output as the equivalent petrol engine on this vehicle. (This is not a sporty car.)
      I don’t think modern diesels are significantly heavier than petrol engines.
      R

  51. according to the EPA, since 1980 vehicle miles traveled has increased 95%, the population has increased 39%, and the aggregate of the six most common emissions has decreased 62%.

  52. So, in a way VW is using a model to supply data in stead of using real life measurements. Where have I heard that before?

    • It sounds familiar to me, too. I’m surprised they didn’t justify their actions by claiming that 97% of company scientists were in agreement that their computer model was just as accurate as real-life measurements. How would the EPA dispute that?

  53. A point raised elsewhere is that carbon dioxide emissions per mile ought to be proportional to fuel consumption per mile for the same fuel, yet a perusal of manufacturer ads shows that they are anything but proportional.
    Question is, if two vehicles with the same fuel consumption produce differing amounts of CO2 per mile, where does the extra mass of the element carbon come from? Either matter is being created from nowhere.. or someone is falsifying test results here too.

  54. Dont know how it works in the US but if this extends to the UK also it would mean all those driving around in supposed low CO2 emission vehicles paying only £30 yearly road tax could instantly in theory be hit with a 10 fold increase which VW I guess would be liable to pay also.
    It will be interesting to see if this extends to other German companies or is it endemic in the industry ?
    Could be a nice opportunity for vehicle manufacturers who are ‘doing it right’ to take a large market share from VW with some humorous ‘poke with a stick’ advertising to boot

  55. So, instead of being used to promote advances in green technology, our tax money has been used to subsidize cheating and crony capitalism. Why am I not surprised? Will we ever reap a return on our investments?

    • By ‘return’, I don’t mean an increase in cheaters and crony capitalists. We have a surplus of those already.

  56. 22 Sept: WSJ: Auto Stocks Skid on Volkswagen
    Emissions cheating scandal hits shares of auto makers and suppliers
    By Saumya Vaishampayan
    The Volkswagen emissions scandal hit shares of auto companies hard Tuesday, as investors sold everything from makers of auto parts to car manufacturers.
    Volkswagen AG shares tumbled nearly 17% in Europe on Tuesday, bringing its losses so far this week to 31%. The German company said Tuesday that as many as 11 million vehicles around the world have the software allegedly used to cheat emissions tests and disclosed it would take a charge to earnings and cut its outlook for the year…
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 1.1% Tuesday…
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/auto-stocks-skid-on-volkswagen-1442954118
    from Deutsche Welle: VW’s share price, already reeling from a difficult day’s trade on Monday, was down almost 20 percent on Tuesday at around 106 euros ($118) per share. In March this year, the same stocks were selling for more than 250 euros each.
    22 Sept: Vox: Brad Plumer: Volkswagen’s appalling clean diesel scandal, explained
    Regulators didn’t notice this ruse for years. The problem was only uncovered by an independent group, the International Council on Clean Transportation, which wanted to investigate why there was such a discrepancy between laboratory tests and real-road performance for several of VW’s diesel cars in Europe. So they worked with researchers at West Virginia University, who stuck a probe up the exhaust pipe of VW’s clean diesel cars and drove them from San Diego to Seattle…
    As Frank O’Donnell of Clean Air Watch pointed out to me, the EPA caught a number of truck manufacturers, including Caterpillar and Volvo, doing something similar back in 1998 — programming their diesel trucks to emit fewer pollutants in lab tests than they did on the road…
    Clean diesel appears to be a genuinely promising technology — in theory, such vehicles could get both excellent mileage and lower emissions. But this whole scandal raises serious questions about how well automakers can actually achieve both goals in practice…
    http://www.vox.com/2015/9/21/9365667/volkswagen-clean-diesel-recall-passenger-cars

  57. This was caught by a couple of citizens who were curious about why the North American VWs seemed to be much better than the European ones. It seems that the EPA would never have caught this on their own.
    Citizen science rocks!

  58. Readers might be interested to know how this sort of technique started.
    It was initially developed in the consumer software industry, where ‘standard’ tests became widely publicised amongst industry sectors. Two areas which stand out were the anti-virus industry and the graphics card manufacturers.
    When software looks for viruses, it needs to balance speed of scanning files against depth of scanning. A good AV product will scan fast, but also investigate a whole file thoroughly for multiple viruses. That takes time.
    Now, if a system is infected, it usually has just one or two viruses, and the software should examine all files closely. However, if an anti-virus package is pointed at a system which has 100,000 viruses, all different, in separate small files, it is a reasonable assumption that it is being tested against a virus database, and there were a number of scandals in the Virus Testing community with AV packages containing code to recognise that they were being tested, and silently reconfiguring themselves to just find one virus per file, which speeds things up a lot.
    Similarly, Graphics card manufacturers are often tested with standard tests that the software can recognise, and it can then overclock itself for a short time to speed up the test, or perform some other optimising action.
    In theory, this can be within the letter of the law. If you are required to ‘pass a test’, then it should not matter how you pass it. But if the aim is to ensure low emissions in ‘average driving’, then this trick will obviously fail to meet that aim….

  59. The upside is the greenies that bought the “clean diesel” can suffer the guilt of driving a not so green car. If they keep it they are guilty of the sin of excess pollution. If they sell it they are still guilty, only moving the sin out of sight. The only ethical thing to do is destroy the car so it can pollute no more.

  60. The fraud carried out by VW is as nothing compared to the frauds being perpetrated by the EPA and the Obama government. $51 million in green car subsidies for Volkswagen diesel vehicles based on falsified pollution test results looks like money well spent when compared to money wasted by the EPA.

  61. I wonder how the serial rent seeker, Elon Musk, would go with his ‘trading’ in certificates based upon battery claims?

  62. Who knows what the actually fine will be, but undoubtedly it will large. Will it be in relation to the actual damage caused by this — no one was killed or injured, and the damage to the environment probably isn’t even measurable.
    I’m not defended VW, what they did was wrong and they should be punished, but in the whole scope of corporate malfeasance how serious is this? Today, a man that knowingly sold salmonella infected peanut butter was sentenced to 20 years in prison — 9 people died from this.

  63. A comment on the photo accompanying the article:
    Would it not be better to have a photo of one of the (modern, diesel engined) VW models being discussed, and NOT a 40-year-old air-cooled ‘Beetle’?

    • Would it not be better to have a photo of one of the (modern, diesel engined) VW models being discussed, and NOT a 40-year-old air-cooled ‘Beetle’?

      Geez JimBob I kinda think that may be the point. A carbureted air-cooled VW would have polluted a lot … much like the new diesels.

      • Air-cooled V-Dubs were some of the worst polluting vehicles ever built. The garage I worked at during college did smog inspections, we stopped doing smog checks on them because they would never be able to pass. They also leaked oil, so much so that oil top ups were a regular part of ownership.
        Funny how the VW Beetle and Van became symbols of the Hippy Generation, and are still that today.

    • Would it not be better to have a photo of one of the (modern, diesel engined) VW models being discussed, and NOT a 40-year-old air-cooled ‘Beetle’?

      I guess you need to work in the software industry to understand the humor of “it’s a feature, not a bug” that the picture represents….
      Peter

      • OK Pete, ya got me!
        I saw the plate, but the little dim bulb never flickered on that there even WAS a joke.
        I guess I’m getting to be an old fogey…..

  64. My ecoloon leftists associates are outraged, not comprehending that everything VW has done, and the personal wealth reduction suffered by the fools that paid more for a green-dyed useless product, applies equally to the fake green carbonbaggers from Big Wind who they idolise and whose wealth they spend their lives embiggening for no environmental benefit (or indeed net harm).

  65. Convert one or two coal fired power plants to natural gas and you’ve offset pretty much all the NOx emissions from these little cars. Anyway I think condemning thousands of cars to the scrap heap decades ahead of their useful life because they’re so clogged up with sludge from these emissions controls is a worse environmental disaster.

  66. Disclaimer – I am in a sarcastic mood.
    If H2O is a bigger driver of temp than CO2.
    What would happen if all the motor vehicles became hydrogen cell powered and started outputting H2O rather than CO2? Would we have a H2O rich environment which would cause the planet to heat up disastrously? 😉
    It would be funny to see the calculation on that one – total number of vehicles in use x H2O output from a hydrogen cell car + fudge factor for trucks = hot weather and new thongs.
    Also – if CO2 is the biggest driver of global temps as stated by some folks, why is the whole planet not all the same temperature?? It just seems illogical….

  67. Only half O/T, but what actually happens to EPA fines?
    I assume that they don’t actually go into the spending-purse of the EPA. But do they end up being considered as credits to the EPA’s account in the general scheme of government auditing?

    • I saw an article where some of the huge ($Billions) paid by some of the big banks (some of the mortgage-selling scandal from years ago) went into an Obama slush fund that was then doled out to the renamed-Acorn groups and some of Obama’s other left-wing activist buddies. According to the article, the money did NOT go to the US Treasury!

  68. You can reflash you car computer.
    Here is an off shore company that has written new software that allows you to gain access to your computer, modify the settings, and give the EPA the middle finger. Hi EPA.. see my middle finger?
    http://www.jkm.org.uk/performance/index.htm
    The EPA psychopath overlords,….This will be as easy as putting a custom key in the ignition.
    Put a customized key in the ignition, and drive your boosted car. Put the original OEM key in the ignition and you get to drive.. and test at inspection, your P.O.S. EPA-mobile and pass.
    There are people who work for the EPA and BRAG (yeah brag) about forcing people into compliance. In another time they would be the half-wits who torture the innocents on the rack or twisted the thumb screws in the name of “the law”. The EPA relies on the willing participation of these “compliance” jerks to implement their tyranny.

    • You can reflash you car computer.

      I’m amazed at some of my eco-weenie friends have installed new pipes and firmware and gained about 50BHP on their cars. There’s a mode on those firmware patches to allow you pass emissions…
      They then bitterly condemn VW for what they are doing…
      Maybe I shouldn’t be amazed, but I can’t help it…
      Peter

  69. I’m amused that VW didn’t just copy Subaru’s perfectly legal EPA test cheat: “SI-Drive”.
    http://www.subaru-global.com/tec_sidrive.html
    Also Ford, GM, et. al. as something similar:
    https://owner.ford.com/how-tos/maintenance/engine/drive-vs-sport-mode.html
    http://www.challengertalk.com/forums/f5/can-someone-explain-sport-mode-71892/
    And I bet if I kept looking most manufacturers have some way of delivering all the requirements of MPG, emissions, and user performance – just not all at the same time. VW just tried to make this modal system automatic, which is then considered an illegal circumvention device. Whoops. (“Device” in bureaucratese means hardware+software). (Though from the above comments I guess MPG and emissions are in physical conflict for diesels, so making this user-modal is a tad harder than “sport” mode).
    You can be assured that in EPA testing of Subarus, Dodges, Fords et. al. this mode is in the default state – clean emissions, crappy horsepower, good MPG – the “Intelligent” or “economy” mode of the car. You can also be assured that when I drive, it’s in “Sport Sharp” mode spewing all sorts of good stuff out the back as I blaze past Priuses driving slow in the left hand lane or slow starting hypermilers at stoplights. (endemic problem around here in the PNW). Time is money, after all, which is something antithetical to bureaucrat culture…
    Hybrid cars cheat by outsourcing 5-25% of the emissions from mileage gains to whoever manufactured the batteries (note, if you do reading on this you’ll find it’s not the lithium part, it’s the whole package especially the electrodes that require the built in energy). It’s a wide range because it depends on how you do the calculations. (Note the partial derivative of MPG is a 1/x^2 function so very sensitive to MPG assumptions). On the good side, regenerative braking really truly is an energy and emissions saver in city driving.
    In the end, like the air conditioning example above, the economical physical part of the car has been completely optimized, and in order to meet the increasing efficiency and emissions requirements imposed by bureaucrats (and those who worship them), while still meeting end-user requirements, you have to cheat in some fashion using software or “moving” the emissions to China.. Some cheats are legal, and some are not. VW was stupid and chose the illegal route.
    The good news for me is my teenager needs a car soon, and I anticipate the secondary market for a TDI will be quite good in the near future…
    Peter

  70. The Honda approach was to just lie and pay the fine later, after millions of Hondas were sold for their great fuel economy to hapless working class commuters. EPA was asleep or busy with form-fit science projects to meet agendas. There is no need to stand in line to cheat those stupid Americans, right Dr. Grubber? All are welcome all the time and by any group. No one is really on the job watching anything. That is the lesson of financial regulation, veterans health care, fuel efficiency standards, campaign finance reform in name only, and health insurance shell games.

  71. How about a wireless emissions test from home with an app. That would save time in going to permit inspection stations and the cheating could be done from the comfort of home on a sofa. The carbon savings would be enormous.

  72. interesting thread.
    for the first time automotive
    technicians state ‘These conditions no one can meet.’
    why have they been silent 40 years.
    ‘hard’ science frozen to humble everydays cheating themselves.
    lost 40 years.
    Hans

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