back to article NOxious VW emissions scandal: Car maker warned of cheatware YEARS AGO – reports

Volkswagen was reportedly warned about rigging emissions tests on its vehicles years ago, not only by one of its suppliers but also the German car giant's own engineers. According to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung newspaper, VW's technicians flagged up concerns about the engine management software the company was …

  1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      i upvoted you because i realized you had your tongue in your cheek. So far 7 others haven't!

      A.C. because i'm a coward.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Headmaster

        TODAY ONE CAN NEVER BE SURE.

        This really could be a 100% honest statement by any of the US-american presidential hopefuls.

        Yes, we are living in those times.

        DOWNVOTED!

        1. theModge

          Poe's law

          It's time to repeat poe's law isn't it?

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law

          "without a clear indicator of the author's intent, parodies of extreme views will, to some readers, be indistinguishable from sincere expressions of the parodied view". It could be satire. He could mean it. Who knows.

          Much like recent headlines in the UK, sometimes the line between news and satire is so blurred as to be invisible.

          1. Captain DaFt

            Re: Poe's law

            "Much like recent headlines in the UK, sometimes the line between news and satire is so blurred as to be invisible."

            Try listening to news in the US.

            Satire (Daily Show, Colbert Report) actually gives a more realistic rendition of the news than the proper news agencies (Fox, CNN).

            We done sailed over that line between news and satire like the Duke brothers, full throttle, whoopin' an' hollerin', with the horn playin' Dixie.

            1. Likkie

              Re: Poe's law

              "Proper", Fox? HA!

            2. Primus Secundus Tertius

              Re: Poe's law

              @ Captain Daft

              Whereas I rely on The Onion, which describes itself as America's finest news source.

              1. asdf

                Re: Poe's law

                >Whereas I rely on The Onion,

                You and FIFA.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Poe's law

            Hate is Hate.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ac 17:40: Which tells

        you quite a lot about some of the blinkered commentards who frequent this site...

        You can see them frothing at the mouth, hammering on the down vote button whilst the irony simply passes them by...

    2. Harry the Bastard

      some of my ancestors escaped the nazis, i reckon my grandad would've found this hilarious, and i couldn't give a shit whether the nazis find it funny or not

      upvoted

    3. Ilmarinen

      At least they made the busses run on time,

      ... something which would have been imposible had they had to fit them with emasculated engines compliant with joyless EPA diktat ;-)

  2. horsham_sparky
    Black Helicopters

    First rule of engineering.. cover thine Arse!

    I've seen many practises in my time as an Engineer that could be described as dubious as best and downright dangerous at worst. These always seem to involve management pressuring engineers into fudging results or designs, particularly when it comes to things like EMC compliance and regulatory/safety compliance.

    I've been overruled more times than I care to count by managers/business owners who simply don't understand the implications of the decisions they make. As a contractor I have the luxury of being able to state my professional opinion and objections without affecting my career prospects (there are lots of contracts around for engineers like myself).

    However what worries me is the permanent staff who do have to worry about it, and don't object.. the problem for them is that if something goes wrong, the law is that whoever signs off on the safety/regulatory aspects is the one most likely to be prosecuted and jailed.. particularly as instructions from management are nearly always verbal.. getting them to commit it to paper/email is like getting blood out of a stone.So this shoves the permanent staff between the proverbial rock and hard place

    In this case it sounds like the engineer involved, did what I have always done.. commit it to paper/email, so there's a record when the smelly stuff hits the rotating air cooling device. The first rule of engineering is to cover thine arse! bravo to whoever the engineer was :-) I bet you they never find out who did the overruling...

    1. Mike 16 Silver badge

      Re: First rule of engineering.. cover thine Arse!

      Long ago and far away I refused to sign off as "Responsible Engineer" on a modification that I thought was the near occasion of a potential safety hazard (but could save almost $2 on a $1000 product). They got some other chump to do it and went into production only to find that some countries (including one of our largest markets) would like nothing better than to use the slightest whiff of such things to block imports that potentially competed against local stuff.

      If only management could be persuaded that good engineering could actually be more profitable than "the least we can get away with".

      Fewer years ago I left another large company because (among other things) of their intense allergy to having anything discussed in email.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: First rule of engineering.. cover thine Arse!

      Yep, there is no greater advice to a young engineer. Take heed!

      For things that are particularly worrisome it's well worth committing it to an email, sending it to management chain and peers. Then print out the email and any read notifications that come back your way. Make sure the print outs contain all headers, etc. Take the print outs away from the office (don't tell anyone) and lodge them with your lawyer.

      Reason why? These things can come back to haunt decades later, long after you've left. When the shit does hit the fan you may not be in a position to pop into the office and print it off.

      Even if you are still there you will be depending on the company IT system to i) let you log in, ii) browse email archives and iii) print it out. If the the shit has hit the fan in a really big way you will also be depending on the management "doing the right thing" instead of frantically running round deleting any emails and archives they can lay their hands on. There's no guarantee that management will do the right thing; remember they already made a dubious decision all those years ago, why wouldn't they cover things up now? Afterall, it might be their liberty at stake too, and desparate people have a habit of throwing the rule book out the window straight away. No, there's no guarantee that the company will strive to secure your on-going personal liberty.

      Examples? Well, there are journalists who have been jailed recently whose boss was not convicted, and apparently there was quite a lot of hardware destruction achieved before the rozzers came in with a warrant. Ok, so that's not engineering, but shitheads are, fundamentally, shitheads. Don't expect them to become knights of honour...

      Nope, you want to be able to get your lawyer to say in court "this email was lodged by my client back in yada-yada-yada, I think that gets my client off the hook nicely". Ok, it's not absolute proof, but the fact that you went to all that trouble all those years ago will count for an awful lot if investigators are otherwise face with trashed email archives. Just keeping it at home doesn't really count; you need the date of lodgement to be undisputable.

      Better still, if it's really dodgy (e.g. people are definitely going to get hurt), it's probably time to call it a day with that employer. That's when you start getting in touch with the authorities yourself and turn whistle blower.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: First rule of engineering.. cover thine Arse!

        I can't disagree but it sounds like the engineer's version of "crazy preparedness".

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Deepwater Horizon

      http://www.systemsengineeringblog.com/deus_ex_machina/

      There's quite a bit more on systems engineering on Les Chambers 'blog that's worthwhile too.

    4. Bernd Felsche
      Thumb Up

      Re: First rule of engineering.. cover thine Arse!

      As a contractor, I always "minute" verbal discussions and instructions along with my interpretation of what I am being asked to do; and if I object then I advise them of the potential consequences. This is simple to do nowadays and much less time consuming than it used to be 35 years ago. But no less onerous if your job is on the line.

      Still; I'd rather lose my job than my professional reputation.

  3. GW7
    FAIL

    VW reportedly warned about rigging emissions tests years ago

    So that would be wilful misrepresentation then. People can go to prison for that, though the suits always seem to get away with it. Prison sentences won't fix what VW (and possibly others) did, nor will it compensate vehicle owners for the deception, though the message that a spell behind bars would send might make big companies behave more ethically in future.

  4. gerdesj Silver badge

    Today VW ...

    I wonder if any other auto manufacturers are having a quick shufti at their engine management systems for errr quality control reasons?

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Today VW ...

      They are ALL in trouble, just a matter of time.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Re: Today VW ...

        Reading The Economist last night (PT) and that was their main point albeit from a political-economy perspective. My read from the engineering perspective is the scale (size) required for a "proper" diesel is larger than a personal vehicle. Also high upkeep in terms of time/resources than other solutions. Consumers just aren't interested into maintain the system.

        Basic point is that something different is going to get the nod as the next consumer vehicle preferred. Whether it's going to be the optimum? I seriously doubt it. Diesel was pushed forward as the great reducer of CO2 by pressure groups, politicians, and the buying public heeded their "wisdom." Oops!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Today VW ...

          "My read from the engineering perspective is the scale (size) required for a "proper" diesel is larger than a personal vehicle. "

          I think it is more that the cost of producing a "proper" Diesel for car duty (which is mostly quite low with occasional bursts) is uneconomic compared to spark ignition. Small Diesels exist and make a lot of sense for long run generator and small marine applications, but they are expensive. Over a lifetime of maybe 20000 running hours or more the amortisation of the cost is reasonable, but over the 2-5000 running hours of a typical car engine, not so much. When the first car Diesels appeared they were basically hardened spark ignition engines rather than downsized proper Diesels, and this was to save money. There is a huge difference in weight and durability between, say, a marinised van engine and a Bukh, but it is the Bukh that will probably still be going 25 years later.

          If cars ran at a fairly constant duty and were not expected to have available huge bursts of power for acceleration, it would be possible to make them cheaper, cleaner and more reliable.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Today VW ...

            >If cars ran at a fairly constant duty and were not expected to have available huge bursts of power for acceleration, it would be possible to make them cheaper, cleaner and more reliable.

            Yeah who needs 0-60 in less than 10 seconds? Hey why have engines at all? Why not just do what the Flintstones were doing and use our foot power?

    2. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Today VW ...

      Seemingly VW are fairly unique in the diesel world in not using urea in the exhaust system to reduce NOx emissions. From what I hear, urea injection definitely works, so if other manufacturers (which I gather is all of them) have used it then they should be in the clear.

      The real problem they have is that these systems need to be properly looked after. They wear out, run out of urea, get fouled up. A diesel car when it's brand new is pretty clean, but after a 100,000 miles who knows? Especially if you run it on cheap diesel.

      And of course, things like diesel particulate filters, catalytic converters, exhaust gas recirculation valves, etc. all cost serious money to replace, especially if you take your old car back to BMW, Mercedes, Renault or whoever. I get the distinct impression that the manufacturers push the renewal costs upwards as a ploy to get you to buy a new car. Who would spend £1000 on a car worth £1500?

      So I think the real scandal is that the major atmosphere protecting components are not built to last or be econmoically replaced throughout the true lifetime of the car. There must be many a diesel that gets to 100,000 miles only to then start spitting out soot and fumes, yet no owner can reasonably justify the expense to get it fixed. So they don't, and they just drive it around anyway.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Today VW ...

        Who would spend £1000 on a car worth £1500?

        Anyone who doesn't want to spend £10'000 on a new car?

        The repair cost has naught to do with the resale value (which, in the example above, would be more like £500 with a CD deck thrown in, amIrite?)

      2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: Today VW ...

        Seemingly VW are fairly unique in the diesel world in not using urea in the exhaust system to reduce NOx emissions. From what I hear, urea injection definitely works, so if other manufacturers (which I gather is all of them) have used it then they should be in the clear.

        No, they are not. At least for Euro 4 and Euro 5 Isuzu has a TDI which is urea-less too. I do not know if their new unit (in the new D-Max) is with or without as mine is the older one. As it is Euro 6 I suspect it needs urea.

        The old design with various modifications also shipped in Honda and the same technology was used by Toyota.

      3. Chemist

        Re: Today VW ...

        "run out of urea"

        Just to put it in context many (all ?) urea injection systems have a limit to the number of engine starts that can happen after the urea runs out.

        For example : "If the tank reaches one gallon, the car notifies the driver. It does so again with only 20 starts remaining. To reset the system, at least two gallons of AdBlue--or four half-gallon bottles, at $7.75 each--must be added. Roadside assistance plans cover AdBlue, however."

        http://www.businessinsider.com/adding-urea-to-clean-diesel-cars-can-i-just-pee-in-the-tank-2011-5?IR=T

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Today VW ...

          No reason to ever run out of urea...just stand the customer on a tray and tell them how much the replacement cost is.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Joke

            Re: Today VW ...

            No reason to ever run out of urea...just stand the customer on a tray and tell them how much the replacement cost is.

            You're just taking the piss.

        2. Ilmarinen

          Re: Today VW ...

          Taking the p*ss, but: can you just add water?

          or does it have to have a certain density/pH/conductivity??

          (inquiring minds, etc.)

        3. DanielN

          Re: Today VW ...

          $15.50/gallon is crazy expensive. Urea costs only $300/tonne, which is about $1/gallon. Someone must be wiping their bottom with silk. Mr. Web Search says you can buy it at truck stops from a pump for $2.50/ gal.

      4. x 7

        Re: Today VW ...

        we have a fleet of Citroens and they certainly don't use urea. Mix of C3/C4/C5

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Today VW ...

          The new ones do.

          Citroën refreshed the engines in all of them earlier this year, and now even the 1.6 litre takes AdBlue.

          That said, it's pretty cheap stuff. Just in daft amounts - seems that the storage tank is not "warning level plus a whole number of bottles", so you either don't top it off or have to store a part-used bottle for a few months.

        2. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Today VW ...

          I wouldn't mix C4 into an engine exhaust.

        3. Rob Daglish Bronze badge

          Re: Today VW ...

          Or is it hidden in the C3/C4/C5? SWMBO has a nice diesel Peugeot, and I never twigged it had an AdBlue tank hidden in the boot floor until I needed to change a tyre...

      5. Chairo
        Meh

        Re: Today VW ...

        The real problem they have is that these systems need to be properly looked after. They wear out, run out of urea, get fouled up. A diesel car when it's brand new is pretty clean, but after a 100,000 miles who knows? Especially if you run it on cheap diesel.

        CARB has made it quite difficult for the car owner to cheat on this one. If the urea tank is empty, the vehicle will warn you a few times politely and then will refuse to start the engine. They call it "inducement action". Also if some wise guy fills in water (or any other fluid) instead of urea, the system will detect it and politely gives the driver a wedgie. As for long term emission stability, CARB forces the vehicle makers to do the homologation with aged components in the first place. In the second place they regularly check aged vehicles from the "real world", just in case. As for the bad fuel, OBD asks for quite strict emission diagnostics. You have NOx and particulate mass sensors that will find out about if the emissions drift too far out of the window.

        They are quite clever chaps and take into account that vehicles are sold to normal people that might want to "cut expenses".

        What they didn't account for was active cheating from the manufacturer's side.

        I suppose that will change in the future,,,

      6. mark 177
        Alert

        Re: Today VW ...

        I'm very confused by this urea/non-urea controversy. I have driven Euro 5 Golfs in the UK and they are "BlueMotion" models that use AdBlue (i.e. overpriced urea solution).

        Similarly here in Oz, the Euro 5 models use AdBlue.

        Where are the Golfs that don't use it?

      7. launcap

        Re: Today VW ...

        > Who would spend £1000 on a car worth £1500?

        Well - we have just spent over £4K on a car that has a writeoff value of £2500..

        It depends on the car - in this case it was a 1966 Morris Minor and well worth the repairs. Would I spend that on a modern tin box? Probably not.

        1. perlcat

          Re: Today VW ...

          I dunno, but the horsemeat scandal triggered a lot of people,

          IGMC

    3. LittleTyke

      Re: Today VW ...

      Not just auto manufacturers, but *all* manufacturers should have a eye cast over them. A couple of years ago we had the horsemeat scandal. Does anyone really know what the situation is today with regard to what's in the processed food we eat every day? One minute the newspapers are all over the campylobacter in chickens story, next minute the story is no longer current as the papers move on to other shock, horror revelations.

      Another example: My sister-in-law was badly injured when a party dress she was wearing caught fire and went up like a Roman candle. Apparently there were strips of magnesium in the fabric to make it glitter. That was four years ago, and then recently we heard about the young daughter of a TV presenter suffering the same kind of thing. Did anyone think of banning such fabrics?

      My assumption is that MOST manufacturers spend every waking moment trying to invent new ways to part us from our money, and I also assume that they will be not too bothered if what they do is skating on thin ice legally.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Today VW ...

        >My assumption is that MOST manufacturers spend every waking moment trying to invent new ways to part us from our money, and I also assume that they will be not too bothered if what they do is skating on thin ice legally.

        Which is why about the only protection we have in the US from the corporates (since they often are their regulators next employer) is class action lawyers. Yes they are Saul Goodman incarnate and only in it for the money but punitive damages are one of the few things that get some of the asshat sociopaths in the C Suite to think twice about selling broken glass brownies.

    4. asdf

      Re: Today VW ...

      >I wonder if any other auto manufacturers

      Didn't read full chain (tsk tsk on me) but from what I understand no other manufacturer claimed to have as clean a diesel with as much power in such a small size and now we know how VW "magically" did it.

  5. EL Vark

    Magical Thinking

    One unverified report I heard was that the actual emissions were forty times of those rated (spec), which is horrifying no matter how one parses it. Hopefully we'll get some hard, verifiable data on the subject sooner rather than later. Listening to a CBC lunch hour phone-in, the other day, it was amusing to hear the high number of current VW owners (of the offending vehicles) who... don't so much not care as aren't concerned in a broad sense and won't let the issue affect their future purchase of a new VW, despite having been so blatantly deceived.

    The irony is that this is all next to irrelevant in North America, where "clean diesel" is a Snark hardly more tangible than "clean coal". I gather that there is such a thing in the EU, but over here it's really just the same stinky crap but with one or two fewer rendered puppies and kittens. I'm not criticising diesel as a thing, and appreciate it's present necessity, just the idea that it's been transformed into something "green" over here. Don't believe the hype.

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Magical Thinking

      It's only horrifying if emission limits some 20 years ago were not 40 times higher than today's limits.

      A big number doesn't automatically make it "horrifying".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Magical Thinking

        Well, the Euro 3 standards in 2000 had NOx emission limit at 0.5 g/km (for diesels).

        Reading the articles about this, the highest emissions were around 0.9 g/km

        So the emissions were something you could reasonably expect from a Euro 3 certified diesel, say a Golf IV 1.9 TDI (a new one, mind). Not "horrifying" as such, except there seems to have been no real progress since 2000 when it comes to VW diesel engine emissions.

        Question: if all the manufacturers had taken the regulations seriously, would major city air quality have improved much more quickly? And if so, would there have even been any need to continue implementing the ever-stricter emission limits?

        VW and fellow cheaters, I am blaming you for overly strict emissions regulations and the extra expense caused by them - no matter what the brand of car. Good job.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Magical Thinking

          Whoa, I seem to have misread the 0.9 g/km figure, it must have been ~0.9 g/mile if the charts below are any indication:

          http://www.citylab.com/crime/2015/09/the-study-that-brought-down-volkswagen/407149/

          So more like 1.5 g/km NOx and well over the Euro 3 standards even.

          1. Ilmarinen

            Re: Magical Thinking

            "well over the Euro 3 standards even"

            IMO anything with a "Euro ..." prefix just deserves to be taken behind the (green, subsidised) bicycle shed and quietly strangled.

            (your milage may vary)

          2. Peter Higgins 1

            Re: Magical Thinking

            Firstly, 0.9 g/mile is more like .6 g/km NOT 1.5 g/km

            or that's how maths worked when I went to school

            Secondly, I can't see a level of 0.9 ANYTHING in that report

            Thirdly, the axes are clearly marked as g/km

          3. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. EL Vark

        Re: Magical Thinking

        I don't usually reply to trolls but since there's some sort of strange dog-pile happening in both directions vis-a-vis thumbs and their relative direction, a reply seems necessary.

        I offered an unsupported news report, not a fact, and presented it as such. You offered a "fact" with no attempt to support it, in order to belittle my unverified report. Your second statement is just... fine, let's run with it (ad absurdum, for emphasis): a single child killed from accident, neglect, or abuse is terribly sad; a million dying from starvation isn't "horrifying" because big numbers signify nothing.

        The more curious issue lies in the implication that both emissions and attempts to limit them are irrelevant other than to add cost. The inference being that there never was a problem, anywhere. I can readily call to mind several cities whose inhabitants would be wont to disagree.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Magical Thinking

        "A big number doesn't automatically make it "horrifying".

        Well, for numerate people, that is true. But the whole anti-CO2 "industry" is based on the fact that most people aren't. A million tonnes sounds BIIIIIG and must be horrifyingly BAAAAAD, right?

        1. asdf

          Re: Magical Thinking

          >A million tonnes sounds BIIIIIG and must be horrifyingly BAAAAAD, right?

          A million here and million there and pretty soon you are glad you don't live near the coast.

      4. Havin_it
        Alert

        Re: Magical Thinking

        Plenty of 20-year-old VWs still on the roads today, I should imagine, further complicating matters.

        I saw a Jetta t'other day. Upright, moving and everything!

    2. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: Magical Thinking

      They probably had no idea what the NOx emissions were and don't care - it's the small print at the back of the brochure that nobody reads. Are they going to care that a number they paid no attention to anyway happened to be wrong?

    3. Bernd Felsche
      Mushroom

      Re: Magical Thinking

      2 g/km sounds really terrible until you're stuck in a summer traffic jam with nothing to do but to pick your nose. At that point, a combustion engine is producing an infinite amount of NOx per kilometere travelled.

      That's why cycle totals are relevant; not instantaneous ones.

  6. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Holmes

    Obligatory icon

    That is all.

  7. J. R. Hartley

    As my teacher used to say...

    It's not looking good, is it.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least it has given the SJWs something to get on their high horse about considering that most of the regulations are being driven by the green environmentalists that fudged the figures and lied about the danger of the plant food CO2.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Email retention

    Good thing German documentation/email retention is 6 years.

    We should get to hear all the juicy bits on this story, eventually.

  10. Snowy Silver badge

    I wonder...

    If this started out as a system to improve the fuel economy when the engine was running but the car was not moving. For example at traffic lights or stuck in a traffic jam. In these examples losing power would not be a problem. Then someone extended its use for something else not considering the full ramifications of doing so.

    However it started it does look like someone decided to break the law on engine emissions and do so but quite a large margin.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nobody will be held accountable apart from the German motor companies for the benefit of the NSA sponsored American motor companies.

    Anyone else think it's a bit strange that we find out about mass surveillance then all of a sudden a competitor of an American business gets fudged over royaley and in a way they will be made bankrupt.

    Who decided to test emissions outside a test environment and why?

    I'm currently watching britains great bake off on my pvr using tin foil as a cake liner, I greased it but it didn't work out.

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Better yet, why this came out soon after the EPA decided to dump toxic mine waste into a river in Colorado? This smells of a diversion to make the EPA look good for a few weeks.

      One item that is puzzling to me is the actual test protocol has not been discussed or referenced in any articles I have seen. Ultimately what is requires and how it is done is the key to whether this is mostly smoke & mirrors or a real scandal. I am inclined to believe when the dust settles this affair is combination of VW being a little too sharp and the EPA (mostly) having a mostly worthless test protocol.

      1. GW7
        Thumb Up

        Worthless test protocol

        "I am inclined to believe when the dust settles this affair is combination of VW being a little too sharp and the EPA (mostly) having a mostly worthless test protocol."

        It will be interesting to see the results of the official US and Euro emissions tests when the "defeat device" is defeated and the vehicles are running on the user engine map for the test. I would expect that engineers at VW already have those figures, otherwise they would not have made the concious and deliberate decision to cheat (way beyond "sharp", btw). It will also be interesting to know how much cost they thought they were saving by avoiding AdBlue/DEF.

        The real world emissions testing that has been done (driving up hills etc) by researchers doesn't really demonstrate VWs non-compliance with the official tests, since they weren't actually performing the offical tests. The results just showed that there was a big discrepancy between the official emissions test results and what happens when you thrash a diesel. And that led to the revelation of the cheat.

        All vehicle emissions tests, whatever hydrocarbon fuel they use, need revising so manufacturers can't cheat the test. And VW need to do something about the mess they've made.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      From what I understand it started with some European countries trying to figure out how VW was able to post the good numbers on their American cars. Unless someone was tipped off, it was just to see how it worked. It took a while to realize it didn't actually work and a bit longer to figure out exactly why it wasn't working.

  12. zebm

    Will new technology solve the problem?

    Valeo are supplying their electric supercharging tech (N.B. numpties refer to this as electric turbos) to VAG - http://europe.autonews.com/article/20150413/ANE/150419988/valeo-says-audi-will-use-its-supercharger-to-reduce-lag-and-save-fuel

    Not certain that this will address NOx as I've been out of automotive for about 15 years now (so don't really do physics any more) but it will give greater control over combustion so one could but hope. Note this is actually British tech owned by a French company.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    VW had been cautioned not to rig the tests by its software supplier Bosch

    So am I interpreting correctly?

    Bosch essentially said to VW

    "This gun we're giving you with the serial number filed off and scratches in the barrel, pleas don't use it to commit any crimes"

    1. Cpt Blue Bear

      Re: VW had been cautioned not to rig the tests by its software supplier Bosch

      I doubt it.

      To stretch your simile, it took a while for the authorities to find the Bosch made weapon used in the robbery and trace it via the serial number to VW. Bosch are saying sure, we sold VW the gun but we told them quite explicitly not to use it to commit any armed robberies.

      1. mark 177
        Coat

        Re: VW had been cautioned not to rig the tests by its software supplier Bosch

        Exactly right because as we know....guns don't kill people, etc etc

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The VW Diesels pass the emissions test

    The VW diesel engines pass the require emissions regulations. Where VW erred was by adding emissions test detection code which is illegal. Thus the software will need to be upgraded sans the test detection code. In addition if the ECU programming does not provide compliance to the emission laws 100% of the time then it will need to be altered. California is the only place where it has been demonstrated that the VW Diesels may allow higher NOx than allowed. The allowed NOx values are so low in CA however that it's difficult to accurately measure it with the portable equipment used and also test exactly as specified by CA emissions laws.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: The VW Diesels pass the emissions test

      Agreed. They passed the tests. That much is fact.

      Also a fact, they don't emit levels of NOx when driven that match the tests.

      So, does the regulation actually say that although they pass the test, they must ALSO maintain the same levels of NOx emission when being driven, or is that an assumption.Or does it specifically say that you are not allowed to do anything different in the test to real world conditions?

      1. Chemist

        Re: The VW Diesels pass the emissions test

        "Agreed. They passed the tests. That much is fact.

        Also a fact, they don't emit levels of NOx when driven that match the tests."

        The test value can only be a marker of the possible emissions in real driving conditions allowing (if no cheating) some comparison of make/model and some rough prediction of likely effects on short-term air pollution. Given how fuel consumption varies over a large range with such variables as length of journey, stop start driving, high or moderate steady speeds and so on how could it really be anything else.

        The 'easy' alternative would be to issue the worst case measurement for any model and that wouldn't reflect real-life use either.

        After all take Euro6 - the test value is 80 milligrams of nox /km for cars whereas the environmental limits of nox are concentration measurements so are not directly correlatable - put another way it's some function of other sources of nox + vehicle density & usage pattern ( & wind speed/direction & rain ) for any location

  15. KitD

    Common knowledge

    I was speaking to an ex-Lotus engineer recently.

    With a regular churn of engineers among the main car manufacturers, it is apparently common knowledge on the inside that all makes adjust their emissions according to whether they are being tested. It is part of what their engine management systems do anyway (adjust to the conditions). A bit like MPs expenses, there is some bewildement that this has created such a storm when it was just considered "one of those things that everyone else does, so we should too".

    I think the main issue for me is how far out of kilter the VW test and real-world emissions were, not that it was being done at all. You can bet your life they all do it to some extent.

  16. TRT Silver badge

    How many VW engineers does it take to fix a lightbulb?

    None. We'll fix it in software.

  17. photobod

    Mandatory open source?

    Does anyone recall a better example of a software-controlled system, subject to regulation, blatantly hiding behind secret, proprietary software to sidestep those regulations.

    I seem to remember a certain RMS warning about the pitfalls of using software which fails to respect the user.

  18. Bernd Felsche
    Holmes

    Everybody knew in 2007

    Well, everybody near the industry who wasn't sleeping.

    EPA had caught Catterpillar, Cummins Diesel, Detroit Diesel, Mack Trucks, Navistar International Transportation, Renault SA and Volvo Truck doing it in the USA in 1998. The total penalty was about USD$1000 million.

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