richardf8: (Ensign_Katz)
[personal profile] richardf8
For those who may not know, VW is having a scandal because the software controlling the TDI engine was written to note when it was being emissions tested, and operate the engine in a way that it would pass, but under normal operating conditions, it was out of compliance, emitting 40x more of some pollutants than permitted.

I can only imagine that this happened because someone concluded that driveability and compliance were mutually exclusive.  At this point, US sales of TDI equipped vehicles are on hold while VW fixes the software.  In my eyes, if VW did not think that it could produce a driveable, compliant diesel engine, it should have said to the EPA, "your requirements are unreasonable; waive them or no TDI for the US Market."  Instead it created an ECU that behaved well when being watched.

Now VW President Winterkorn has stepped down, despite saying that he had no awareness of the program.  There are those who will say that it was his responsibility to know.  That is true.  But now that he does know, isn't it his responsibility to investigate?  What does his resignation do to advance the goal of making this right?  It seems to me that this particular move crosses the line from drama into melodrama.

Are EPA Standards for passenger vehicles too stringent?  Probably; diesel's selling point has always been higher mpg than gasoline.  It's certainly not cleaner. But VW has taken a pass on making that argument.  Instead, by choosing situational compliance, it not only cheated at the game, but it also participated in the fiction that the standards were achievable at the time they were set.

Where do things stand now?  Owners are afraid that any fix will cost them either mpg or performance or possibly both.  VW may need more than a software patch to achieve compliance.  It will cost them a lot if they need to upgrade these cars to include Urea injection, but that may be where things go.

Does this affect my attitude toward VW?  Not really; it's a corporation, corporations are all sociopathic, and failure to comply with EPA regs does not lead directly to customer's deaths, so in my book they're ahead of GM with its ignition switches, and FCA with it's remotely hackable CAN bus.

Date: 2015-09-27 04:08 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Pretty much in agreement with all your points above. VW is screwed, likely Porsche is as well, and guilt by association industry wide is possible.

Useless red tape regulations will be passed and costs will be driven higher to no benefit of anyone, including the environment.

The big wigs will get to testify and dodge jail terms of course. In the end I suspect we will just pay more $ to get less car.


Date: 2015-09-27 01:48 pm (UTC)
jamesb: (Simmie)
From: [personal profile] jamesb
This may actually be the beginning of the end for diesel passenger vehicles.

There's some discussion that much of Europe is discovering that diesel technology is a dead end for passenger vehicles, and they are reluctantly admitting that they have backed the wrong horse. Even before the VW debacle, France was considering banning new diesel passenger car sales due to their problematic NOx exhaust levels, and the urea injection that practically all automakers (except VW) have had to fit to reduce the NOx levels to a level that will pass the environmental agency testing, is just a stop gap at best.

Date: 2015-09-29 01:50 am (UTC)
jamesb: (Simmie)
From: [personal profile] jamesb
The new Euro 6 regulations set different standards for petrol and diesel cars. For diesel cars, they dramatically drop the permitted level of NOx emitted down to a maximum of 80mg/km compared to the 180mg/km level that was required for cars to meet the previous Euro 5 emissions standards.

The limit for NOx from petrol cars remains at 60mg/km, the same as for the Euro 5 standard.

Where VW is in trouble is that their NOx figures in real world conditions (as opposed to the "Testing" conditions that the software was designed to fool) are at least an order of magnitude worse than the figures they were required to meet. Yes, the software trick lets them meet the figures, but at the cost of both power and economy. We're not talking about a small change here. We're talking about enough change in the vehicle's performance to destroy its driveability and create a serious increase in fuel consumption.

Even VW's latest diesel models that have DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid AKA AdBlue) injection have software that drops back the amount of DEF injected when the vehicle is not in a test cycle. The end result is that the DEF equipped VWs are only half as polluting as the non-DEF models, but still way outside the legal levels.

Retrofitting older VWs with the DEF system will be expensive (in some new models, VW had to totally re-engineer the rear suspension to provide room for the 5 gallon DEF tank), and there's an extra gauge needed to monitor the DEF tank levels. Figures of $2500 + labor per vehicle have been mentioned. For older VWs, a buy back of each vehicle at market value would cost less than retrofitting the DEF system.

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