Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Toontime: When the Wheels Come Off

Update: VW's US executive was told in 2014 that there was "possible non-compliance" with emission standards after a West Virginia University study was published. However, in testimony to Congress he stated it was not until September 3rd this year that Volkswagen told regulators about the testing "defeat device". The scandal affects about half-million cars in the US. Michael Horn also said that the responsible parties will be identified and held accountable. The company announced a massive recall of diesel powered cars to begin in January and completed by the end of 2016. The fix will be approved by the German government. A software update will be sufficient for most cars, but other vehicles will require new fuel injection and catalytic converters. The EA189 engine was used widely in several models with country-specific variations. The effort will be hugely expensive for VW. The new CEO Matthais Müller warned workers in Wolfburg, the company would try to avoid layoffs, but that its entire 86 billion expansion plans were under review. The company will take a charge-off of $7.33 billion to pay for repairs. The damage done to the VW brand is incalculable.

{2.09.15}A corporate brand that stands for reliability and value got a rude shock this week when it was revealed Volkswagen cheated on emissions test to get its popular diesel engine models accepted by regulators. The company's CEO, Martin Winterkorn has already resigned and more resignations by company executives are expected. The cheating is international in scale with as many as 11 million diesel vehicles containing software that allowed the company to evade pollution standards in the United States. An independent investigation by CAFEE, Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emission detected the software "fix" when it was asked to study US models of European diesels under US conditions since these vehicles were emitting 4-7 more pollution than permitted under less stringent European standards. The US Justice Department is now beginning a criminal investigation.

The New York Times reports that VW diesel engine models as well as Audi models made by VW contained programs for detecting when the engine was undergoing emissions testing. The programming turned on all of the vehicles exhaust scrubbing mechanisms to insure a passing score and then turned them off when testing was completed, allowing significantly more pollution to enter the atmosphere than detected. The standard at issue is the NOx, or nitrous oxide emissions that is noticeably more stringent in the US than Europe (0.04g/km compared to 25g/km). Nitrous oxides are responsible for creating smog and depleting the ozone layer.

credit: Jeff Stahler
Wackydoodle sez: An' a bad case of dirty oil too!