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VW Emisaions: This Will Be Expensive I Expect

Paul McLellan

Active member
The EPA has caught Volkswagen spoofing the clean air compliance by making the engine control unit detect when it is being tested for compliance (by noticing that the steering wheel is not moving, for example) and then being compliant, while delivering more torque and acceleration and pollution during normal driving. Here is the key paragraph from the letter (sorry, the PDF is set up so you can't cut and paste (I think it is actually a scan) and so this is a screen capture).
View attachment 15377Read the whole complaint here (pdf).
 
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Daniel Payne

Moderator
This reminds me of how CPU, GPU and SoC designers know exactly which benchmarks will be run on their chips and then optimize the chip architecture to produce stellar benchmark results.

Is this approach by VW unique to just that one auto maker, or does everyone else do it also and VW just happened to get caught first?
 

Daniel Nenni

Admin
Staff member
At least they apologized:

VW CEO Says He's 'Deeply Sorry' About Emissions Cheating » AutoGuide.com News

“I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public,” said Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG. “We will cooperate fully with the responsible agencies, with transparency and urgency, to clearly, openly, and completely establish all of the facts of this case.”

I'm not sure an American company would...
 

Paul McLellan

Active member
At least they apologized:

VW CEO Says He's 'Deeply Sorry' About Emissions Cheating » AutoGuide.com News

“I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public,” said Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen AG. “We will cooperate fully with the responsible agencies, with transparency and urgency, to clearly, openly, and completely establish all of the facts of this case.”
Haha. I'm deeply sorry that my bonus this year won't be very big...and I may get fired.
 

Daniel Payne

Moderator
The specific models using this avoidance technique are:

  • 2009-14 Volkswagen Jetta, Beetle and Golf
  • 2014-15 Volkswagen Passat
  • 2009-15 Audi A3

Other car makers paying penalties because of Clean Air Act violations:

  • MTU America (Rolls Royce), $1.2M, March 2015
  • Hyundai and Kia, $100M, November 2014
  • Edge Products LLC, $500K, Jan 2013

This violation by VW could reach the billions in penalties.
 

Arthur Hanson

Active member
This is no mistake, but a deliberate criminal action that should be treated as a felony. It should be traced to the specific people involved and they should be brought to trail. Anything less, is giving a free pass to deliberate and calculated criminal behavior. If VW management is truly innocent, they should investigate who bares direct responsibility for these actions and who if anyone ordered these actions and turn over these findings to appropriate authorities for criminal action.
 

Daniel Payne

Moderator
This is no mistake, but a deliberate criminal action that should be treated as a felony. It should be traced to the specific people involved and they should be brought to trail. Anything less, is giving a free pass to deliberate and calculated criminal behavior. If VW management is truly innocent, they should investigate who bares direct responsibility for these actions and who if anyone ordered these actions and turn over these findings to appropriate authorities for criminal action.
The EPA issues fines for violations, there is no criminal penalty.

I suspect that some middle-level manager asked the engineering department to auto-detect when their diesel cars were being tested on a dynamometer and then change the emissions to more easily pass the EPA tests.
 
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zkhan

New member
Recently GM got out of a pickle when they were just fined when >100 deaths were attributed to a defect in their cars that were known to the company but not disclosed. No employee was held personally responsible. I suspect VW would use the same blue print and get off on fines. No employee will likely be held responsible.
 

Arthur Hanson

Active member
Daniel, I have no idea how they can correct the violations that is usually required as part of a settlement. If not correctable, will they grant a waiver for illegal vehicles? This would be an intersting precident. Intent will establish if is criminal or not. This is a real can of worms legally, ethically and a real blow to reputation. I like VW and their full line up and hope they deal with this in an appropriate manner.
 

Paul McLellan

Active member
It looks like VW was the one that got caught first:
Through trickery, the gap between official fuel economy figures and those achieved by an average driver have grown to 40%. For new diesel cars nitrogen oxide emissions are typically five times higher on the road than the allowed limit and just one in 10 cars meets the required level on the road. But for some models the gap is so large T&E suspects that the car is able to detect when it is tested using a “defeat device” and artificially lowers emissions during the test. For example, a diesel Audi A8 tested in Europe produced nitrogen oxide emissions 21.9 times over the legal limit on the road; a BMW X3 diesel was 9.9 times over the limit on the road; an Opal Zafira Tourer, 9.5 times; Citroen C4 Picasso 5.1 times. All these vehicles passed the laboratory test.

In CO tests, on average almost every Mercedes model achieves levels on the road over 50% higher than the laboratory tests; the BMW 5 series and Peugeot 308 achieve just shy of 50% higher than in the lab. For virtually every new model that comes onto the market the gap between test and real-world performance leaps. With the launch of the VW Golf Mark VII the gap between test and real-world CO[SUB]2[/SUB] emissions jumped from 22% to 41%. The gap for the new Mercedes C Class rose from 37% to 53%; for the Renault Clio IV the gap almost doubled from 19% to 34%. These changes are unlikely to be caused solely by the increased use of test flexibilities – the more sinister and illegal defeat devices may also be in use and T&E has initiated a testing programme to demonstrate this as the US authorities have done to expose VW.

From here.
 

Daniel Payne

Moderator
It looks like VW was the one that got caught first:
Through trickery, the gap between official fuel economy figures and those achieved by an average driver have grown to 40%. For new diesel cars nitrogen oxide emissions are typically five times higher on the road than the allowed limit and just one in 10 cars meets the required level on the road. But for some models the gap is so large T&E suspects that the car is able to detect when it is tested using a “defeat device” and artificially lowers emissions during the test. For example, a diesel Audi A8 tested in Europe produced nitrogen oxide emissions 21.9 times over the legal limit on the road; a BMW X3 diesel was 9.9 times over the limit on the road; an Opal Zafira Tourer, 9.5 times; Citroen C4 Picasso 5.1 times. All these vehicles passed the laboratory test.

In CO tests, on average almost every Mercedes model achieves levels on the road over 50% higher than the laboratory tests; the BMW 5 series and Peugeot 308 achieve just shy of 50% higher than in the lab. For virtually every new model that comes onto the market the gap between test and real-world performance leaps. With the launch of the VW Golf Mark VII the gap between test and real-world CO[SUB]2[/SUB] emissions jumped from 22% to 41%. The gap for the new Mercedes C Class rose from 37% to 53%; for the Renault Clio IV the gap almost doubled from 19% to 34%. These changes are unlikely to be caused solely by the increased use of test flexibilities – the more sinister and illegal defeat devices may also be in use and T&E has initiated a testing programme to demonstrate this as the US authorities have done to expose VW.

From here.
OK, that scenario makes more sense to me that all of the diesel auto makers were optimizing emission results during testing, and that real road testing shows a large disparity.
 

Brianhayes

New member
I suspect that some middle-level manager asked the engineering department to auto-detect when their diesel cars were being tested on a dynamometer and then change the emissions to more easily pass the EPA tests.
So who wrote the software and who signed off on it? Should not be difficult to find out. I wonder somehow if we will be told!
 

Paul McLellan

Active member
Another interesting thing. Petrol engines produce less nitrous oxide but they produce more CO2 than diesels since diesel fuel is more efficient energy-wise (per gallon and per carbon atom). So if the effect of this is that sales of diesel cars decline then N2O will decline but CO2 will increase.
 
This reminds me of how CPU, GPU and SoC designers know exactly which benchmarks will be run on their chips and then optimize the chip architecture to produce stellar benchmark results.
Even worse, I've seen reports of GPU drivers detecting being run from a benchmark and taking shortcuts when the case.
 

Arthur Hanson

Active member
Staf, People love to cheat period. It's just like politicians who promise a free lunch, which means someone else pays, legalized theft. It has been shown repeatedly if people are given the opportunity and ability to get away with it and even a gram of rationalization, the vast majority of people will lie, cheat and steal. Democracies throughout history have become welfare states of multiple types on their way to collapse. People will vote for someone else to pay the bill and then the debt piles up since no one wants to pay and then collapse. We are now seeing many countries collapse currently and many more on the way. As you have stated no field is immune, in fact the more money, the more corruption.
 

Arthur Hanson

Active member
Authorities in various jurisdictions around the world are already looking into a number of criminal prosecutions for deliberate fraud.
 
M

msporer

Guest
I drove across country in mid-August and saw a whole truckload (car carrier) of vehicles with emission equipment installed in the tailpipe. Notable in that it looked to be secured in place and that all the vehicles on the carrier were different. Didn't notice that brand, but thought this was odd... I should have guessed to short auto stocks....
 

Brianhayes

New member
It is worth a mention that the ECB has stopped buying VW customer backed bonds so the cost of providing "Zero interest" finance loans has gone from 0.79% to 2.17%. VW is said to have €45 billion or so outstanding.
 
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