Interesting letter from the California EPA (CARB) to Volkswagen covering the Nitrogen Oxide being emitted by its vehicles during normal driving conditions on the road. What is “really” interesting about this is VW put into play software which detects when the vehicle is being tested causing the vehicle to pass testing. Hat Tip to Bear Poster Tom Bozzo.
At the end of the first page and the beginning of the second page to Volkswagen, CARB Chief of Emissions Compliance for Automotive Ms. Annette Herbert makes the CARB’s case. “concerns of elevated oxides of nitrogen emissions in ‘real world’ driving.” Ms. Herbert goes on stating, “This prompted CARB to initiate an investigation and discussions with the Volkswagen of America Group as to the reasons for the high Nitrogen Oxides emissions from their 2.0 liter engine observed during real world driving.” In this 2nd paragraph, Volkswagen admits in September of this year to having employed a mechanism since 2009 to “circumvent CARB and EPA test procedures.”
The rest of the 2nd page gets interesting as this is not the first time CARB called Volkswagen attention to the Nitrogen Oxide emissions. In the later part of 2014, Volkswagen recalled ~500,000 in the US from 2009-2014 with Gen1 and Gen2 technology. The recall was to have fixed the Nitrogen Oxide emissions. While it did lower the emissions somewhat, the emission rate was still higher than CARB and EPA standards. Beginning at the end of the 2nd page and the beginning of the 3rd page, Volkswagen admits during a September 3rd meeting, the vehicles were designed and manufactured with a defeat mechanism to over ride the emissions system. The mechanism was in place to “bypass, defeat, or render inoperative elements of the vehicles emission control system.” Oh, to be a bug on the wall during this meeting! I can not imagine the stunned silence. Having worked in automotive doe decades, this type of flaw happens through mistake, carelessness, or age. It is rare to see a failure of pollution or safety systems by design-intent or at least I have not seen it.
On the last page near the end, CARB states it will “initiate an enforcement investigation of Volkswagen regarding all 2009-2015 vehicles equipped with 2.0 liter engines.” Since the US does not jail bankers, it will probably not jail Volkswagen executives. Look to huge fines.
Matthew Daly of Talking Points News appears to have been one of the first to break this story on Friday, September 18, 2015. Matthew states Volkswagen faces ~$38,000 in fines per vehicle (2009-2015 Jetta, Beetle, Passat, Audi, and Golf) for the ~500,000 vehicles having this technology and defeat mechanism installed in them. The fines equate to ~$18 billion.
References: “EPA Orders Volkswagen Recall Nearly 500K Cars That Dodge Emission Rules” TPM, Matthew Daly, September 18, 2015
Puzzling that they thought they might have gotten away with this. People are really inquisitive and there would be hundreds of thousands of cars out there, at least 100 for every OCD geek-mechanic. After the disasterous incident of the Sony root-kit scandal (one reason I think twice or more before buying any Sony product, even a decade later) one would think that nobody would expect this sort of thing to escape notice. Are managers really so dumb?
The TPM article and the letter mentioned 500,000 vehicles affected by this intended failure of emissions systems. At $38,000 per vehicle, Volkswagen might be better off to give each owner a new vehicle so as to maintain goodwill.
There must be nothing like waking up one morning and learning that your management has bet one-seventh of the market value of the firm to avoid meeting pollution regulations and lost. Forbes listed Volkwagen as having a market cap last year of $126B and an $18B fine totals – hey, one-seventh exactly. Should the US government take the payment spread over time or as a lump sum, since this is almost like winning one of those multi-state lotteries. Maybe the better bet would be to force VW to cough up all of the advanced technologies patents and trade secretes they’ve been developing to the US government so it can make them available to whatever US firms they want to punish VW going forward.
This type of egregious behavior has to stop. I say maximum fine per vehicle AND prosecute the executives. Only in a Randian world does free market capitalism function by deliberately flaunting the law. The rest of us choose a civilized society.
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Gotta love that German Engineering!
Never ran into something like this with German companies; however, none were this big.
It is said that we have gone in the past 100 years from 300ppm to 400ppm CO2 in the atmosphere. Today it is said that we could go from 400ppm to 500ppm in the next 50 years. many bad things are predicted to happen from this further increase ,man made or not. The oceans will become acidic and much ocean life and food supplies will die supposedly. The fight-argument has become many independent studies-research vs. Exxon and Koch Brothers research-money. Many feel that China is the big polluter now but we cannot have large corporations or China willfully polluting with contempt for the rule of law to increase market share or profits at the expense of the rest of the world. I have to believe that again like with the GM ignition switches, this was most likely silo’s of unchecked power in the VW culture that broke the rules.
It is honestly kind of hard to imagine that this would happen in a German company without oversight., based on my experience with our own German businesses.
Almost without exception I’ve found the German managers to be everything the stereotypes of Germans indicate (studious, thorough, exacting). I’m sure not every person in Germany is that way, it may be a peculiarity of the way finance and management talent is trained, but in a big company like VW…this should not be able to happen.
I don’t understand why VW did this. Did it save them money? Did their cars perform better? I don’t get it.
The TDI was supposed to be the best diesel out there and VW delayed bringing it to the US. I guess we could say, “now-we-know-why” they delayed. It did not pass US clean air standards. It is unfortunate as many people thought they had bought the best and cleanest diesel around. We shall have to see what the EU does also.
A few years ago, there was a local gas station that had jiggered with the gas pumps in a way that it would short you on gas UNLESS you were buying the amounts used by the state weights and measures inspectors to test the pumps…