back to article Auto emissions 'cheatware' scandal sparks war of words between Italy, Germany

The latest “cheatware” scandal to rock the auto industry has escalated to cause inter-government tension, with Germany and Italy trading snipes over Fiat Chrysler's claims about emissions. It's hardly surprising that once regulators discovered the Volkswagen cheat, they'd take a look at other car-makers to see if their …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, Why Did...

    ... the Americans stop short of calling this a defeat device? Is it because it's on American designed and manufactured trucks?

    After all, the vehicles have passed whatever the testing regime threw at them, just like the VWs, but now there's a question mark. Something is clearly wrong with how the vehicles behave outside the test lab, just like the VWs.

    In VWs they called it a defeat device, but in Chryslers they've not done that, yet.

    Could it be that the relevant authority knows Trump and his climate-change denying chums are days away from being their boss?

  2. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Germany has form in telling Italy what to do. Check 20th century history, maybe around the late 30's/early 40's.

    1. RAMstein

      2nd post, Godwin's law invoked

      well done you!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 2nd post, Godwin's law [strike]invoked[/strike] REVOKED

        No no. You've got it wrong. Godwin's Law refers to an internet argument descending to name calling &/or comparing someone to Hitler/Nazi's.

        Germany controling Italy doesn't even come close, regardless of who was controlling Germany at the time.

  3. Filippo

    "companies are more-or-less separate to the state"

    Not in Italy, they ain't.

    1. Buzzword

      separate to the state

      Fiat directly and indirectly provides hundreds of thousands of jobs for Italians. Unsurprisingly, the state therefore has a vested interest in protecting the company from menacing foreign governments.

      1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
        Meh

        Re: separate to the state

        Same as for Germany, then.

        Indeed car makers have great political power over here (via lobbying, of course).

  4. tr1ck5t3r
    Trollface

    Oh look all the car manufacturers have been caught with their hands in the "emissions" cookie jar, what a surprise.

    Still its only a side show when you look at how much oil the US Military machine consumes on a daily basis, the same amount as Sweden.

    Just by getting rid of the US Military machine, you could save the planet in more ways than one, but hey what do I know, there's so many criminals running top organisations and top govt departments telling me what to think and do; I do know it wouldn't take much to eradicate the 1% that need some pest control.

    1. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      "...by getting rid of the US Military machine..."

      For all their faults, the 'US Military machine' was quite useful during the early 1940s.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Don't Mention it....

        Oh no, two posters have separately mentioned the war.

        But I think they may have got away with it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Don't Mention it....

          They would have got away with it too, but for those meddling kids...

        2. Myvekk

          Re: Don't Mention it....

          https://youtu.be/yfl6Lu3xQW0

      2. salamamba too

        Re: "...by getting rid of the US Military machine..."

        " For all their faults, the 'US Military machine' was quite useful during the early 1940s."

        Eventually.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "...by getting rid of the US Military machine..."

          ST offered "eventually".

          There's a story that the USA parked a large number of aircraft outside, quite far north, along the Canadian border, for some very long duration "Paint Tests". Around 1940. Really really really close to 49°N. Maybe a foot inside the USA.

          After the war, most of the "Paint Test" aircraft were still there. Many with what seemed to be battle damage. No, the Canadians did not borrow them, starting while the USA was still officially Neutral. Honest. Never happened.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "...by getting rid of the US Military machine..."

        Matter of fact, back then it wasn't really a US military machine. More like a US military gadget.

        It was 180k soldiers, ranked 19th worldwide in size, in 1939 and it was ramped up when the threat became evident. No one would use the term if it had been ramped back down after WW2, but alas, it was too profitable so the perpetual crisis cycle started... communism, cold war, Korea, Vietnam, proxy wars, ...

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      "Oh look all the car manufacturers have been caught with their hands in the 'emissions' cookie jar, what a surprise."

      When the U.S. EPA calls CO2 a "pollutant", it's hard to take them seriously...

      Hopefully the Trump administration will "fix them" and we'll get proper standards, proper enforcement, and proper respect.

  5. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Careful where you tread Mr US Regulator...

    Fiat effectively baled out Chrysler in 2014 before it completely sank. If the US was to hit Fiat Chrysler hard it could cause all sorts of US-centric repercussions if the small US Chrysler manufacturing arm once again folded. This one is NOT USA against Europe, it's far closer to USA against USA ... it'll be interesting.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The clock was always ticking ...

    Didn't think VW would be the only car manufacturer that couldn't work out "çlean" diesel (and all the others were clever enough).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The clock was always ticking ...

      OK, but I'm still waiting for a public evaluation of how well US built cars do in these tests. The US has lagged literally *decades* in environmental protection measures, and I can't believe they'd be able to catch up that quickly. Just for reasons of balance, such testing must commence, right now.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        public evaluation of how well US built cars

        Are there the same pressures to hit arbitrary emissions levels? In the UK, the annual car tax is based upon CO2 emissions. Big selling point if you can get your emissions down one notch.

        I've no idea how it works on the other side of the Atlantic.

        1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

          Re: public evaluation of how well US built cars

          In the UK, the annual car tax is based upon CO2 emissions. Big selling point if you can get your emissions down one notch.

          ... mainly ... and until April when a new system of confusion and convolution results in a leccy Tesla costing a fortune to tax compared to a £30k diesel-guzzler that's smellier than a smelly thing ...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: public evaluation of how well US built cars

          I've no idea how it works on the other side of the Atlantic.

          Oh, that's now very easy. You can cut through any legislation, rules, red tape and possible fines by quickly complimenting Trump on Twitter and staying at any of his hotels. Say what you want, but he does seem to simplify the US an awful lot, even before he's inaugurated..

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: public evaluation of how well US built cars

          Hi AMBxx,

          In the US, the manufacturer's tax is based on fuel economy in miles per gallon on an average basis per manufacturer in each of four vehicle categories (CAFE standards, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_Average_Fuel_Economy). For end users, the punter's tax is based partially on the specific model's variance from Energy Tax Act standards (which differ from CAFE: see Gas-guzzler tax, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_Tax_Act#Gas_Guzzler_Tax) as well as potential state penalties for emissions or benefits at the state and federal level for alternative fuels and electrics. These differ from state to state, while the feds only give tax credits to new buyers of specific models of electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids (https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/taxevb.shtml).

          After that, I'm sure you'll understand completely how it works in the US...

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: The clock was always ticking ...

        "The US has lagged literally *decades* in environmental protection measures, "

        Trump doesn't believe in climate change and thinks pollution control is a Chinese commie plot to cripple US industry.

        "such testing must commence, right now."

        Yeah, right. What will happen is the limits will be relaxed but all those furriners who sell cars in the US will be held to the "old" standards and fined Beeeelions while the US companies quietly get on with Business As Usual using the newer, cheaper emissions standards.

    2. joed

      Re: The clock was always ticking ...

      I can recall edition of "Drive it" that aired soon after the VW scandal broke out where a "scientist" praised Jeep/Fiat's new 2.0l diesel engine for meeting emission standards without the need for SCR. Too late to scrap it and I guess nobody could foresee full extent of liabilities it could bring upon auto maker(s). Still, while cheating is bad it'd be better if environmental zealots went after heavier or modified vehicles that get free ride (at least in US).

  7. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    But did they actually break any rules ?

    As AC says right at the top - these vehicles passed the legally mandated tests<period>. Unless the law very very clearly states that "X, Y, and Z are not allowed" then that's that. No, I don't know what the actual regulations are, perhaps someone knows where to dig that up and translate it into real world English !

    If the cars then emit much more in real life than they did in the tests, well then the test parameters don't represent real life well enough. It was always fairly predictable - impose emissions limits that are hard (impossible ?) to meet, use a testing regime with a well known subset of real driving conditions, manufacturers are going to design the cars to pass those tests. I'm sure that if a real user were to drive the car in a manner that matched the test, then they'd get the low emissions the test requires.

    1. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

      Re: But did they actually break any rules ?

      > these vehicles passed the legally mandated tests<period>.

      Yes, they passed the tests. But completely disabling some of the cleanup-measures during normal driving is VERY likely still illegal. Note they were always allowed to disable cleanup in high-load situations.

      Hence your <period> is very arguable.

      I do suspect that nearly all car makers are doing something like VW did, maybe to a lesser extent.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: But did they actually break any rules ?

        Yes, they passed the tests. But completely disabling some of the cleanup-measures during normal driving is VERY likely still illegal.

        And that's reasonable, the cars isn't being driven as tested. It's not so very different to removing the catalytic converter, putting it back only for the annual government inspection.

        Note they were always allowed to disable cleanup in high-load situations.

        That's interesting. Could Fiat Chrysler's problem simply be one of poor parameter choices rather than code deliberately designed to deceive? Or is it just a more subtle deception? No doubt time will tell.

      2. nijam

        Re: But did they actually break any rules ?

        > Hence your <period> is very arguable.

        Hmmm, not so sure - the problem would be a mismatch between the regulations and the test, and that is the regulator/testers fault.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: But did they actually break any rules ?

      "manufacturers are going to design the cars to pass those tests"

      it's happened with computers regarding various performance evaluation tests. no surprises here.

      [it also happens in college classes when you give the prof what he wants, to get the grade, regardless of whether or not you believe it - useful for surviving lefty-lib indoctrination without caving in - "for the test" then brain-dump]

  8. Sleep deprived
    Holmes

    Defeat device?

    From the point of view of the embedded software, if the car is not moving but just turning its wheels, thus not fighting air resistance, why not reduce power, and thus emissions?

    Wouldn't it make sense that those tests be performed on actual roads, thus accounting for air resistance and road handling? After all, these cars are to be used on roads, not in test labs. This would yield more realistic results (i.e. attainable in real life).

  9. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
    Pint

    Fix It Again, Tony!

    I'm impressed that the combined engineering prowess of Chrysler and Fiat came up with this, independently of the boys at Volkswagen.

    I would have liked to be a fly on the wall in the pub at whatever international auto show it was where these guys met and compared notes:

    Hans: "Hey, Tony - have you ever thought of changing the ECU code a bit?"

    Tony: "My round"

  10. Mark 85 Silver badge

    So Brexit won't destroy the EU, but it sounds like Volkswagon/Chrysler might?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    >>> His Italian counterpart Graziano Delrio, forgetting perhaps that companies are more-or-less separate to the state [...]

    With Germany and Italy it is a case of "less separate".

    Italy just got over the hump of recession in 2015, with the main drivers being automobile exports and the manufacturing systems investments stemming from retooling for new vehicle models. When the economy is fragile you defend the branches that are most likely to pull up domestic demand tooth and nail.

    And, well, Germany... the state Lower Saxony owns around 17% of the VW stock. How's that for separation of state and company?

    Evidently, both countries are involved in looking the other way when it came to certifications and emissions regulations. They have very strong incentive to...

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