Volkswagen scandal: How did the world’s most boring car company come up with this?

The Beetle was the official car of flower power, the Kombi remains a favourite of hippies, but Volkswagen has now become known for an environmental scandal that would make cigarette company executives doff their hats, writes Dominic Knight.

Of all the companies to get busted perpetrating massive environmental fraud, I would have thought Volkswagen the least likely. Even those skinny jeans-wearing eco-hipsters at Tesla might have seemed more willing to capitulate to the huge pressure to produce innovative green vehicles than Volkswagen, the world’s most boringly consistent car company.

How on earth has a company dull enough to name its two most popular models after the world’s two most bourgeois sports managed to concoct a scheme so dodgy that even cigarette company executives must be doffing their tar-encrusted hats?

The more I learn about the scheme, the more astonished I am. Their diesel system was clever enough to know when it was being tested by the likes of the US EPA; during these tests harmful emissions of nitrous oxides would be prevented, whereas under normal circumstances the cars spewed forth between 10 and 40 times the permitted amount.

(Which is incredibly dastardly, of course, but also yet another impressive piece of German engineering.)

The impact of these unauthorised extra emissions could be severe. It’s estimated that diesel-powered Volkswagens in the UK may be responsible for as many harmful emissions of NOx as all the country’s power stations put together. And the emission of nitrous oxides has been shown to cost thousands of lives annually.

The company’s reputations for safety in crash tests and innovations in collision-avoidance systems seem fairly moot if what’s coming out of its exhaust pipes is deadly.

And we’re talking about Volkswagen, for goodness’ sake! The company whose Beetle was the official car of flower power, and whose Kombi was so popular with hippies that it’s mandatory for drivers to exchange peace signs when they pass one another on the highway. (Seriously, this is a thing, based on my travels in my friends’ khaki model when I was a kid).

In recent decades, its cars have been predominantly associated with inner-city architect types who appreciate their Teutonic minimalism. I used to drive a dark grey Golf when I briefly lived in Surry Hills, and it was often hard to distinguish mine from the half-dozen other identical ones parked on the same street.

Sure, OK, the company has its roots in Nazi Germany, but that was a long time ago. Today’s Europe is environmentally conscious almost to a fault. In fact, the switch to diesel to reduce CO2 emissions seems literally to have been a fault, given the subsequent impact on health from all those extra emissions.

Volkswagen drivers are, above all, boring. After five years with a capricious Peugeot, I got one because I wanted a car that would keep me safe in a collision, never break down, and fit into inner-city parking spaces. In other words, for reasons so practical that I’m embarrassed to report them.

VW is known as a reliable, predictable, safe brand. And that’s perhaps what’s most surprising about the Volkswagen controversy – it seems so profoundly risky. Given the multitude of car tests performed around the world, surely somebody might have experimented with emissions outside a lab?

Surely questions like these were always inevitable. Scientists had already noted that improved diesel standards weren’t leading to the forecast reduction in deaths. And I discovered, after only a brief search, a 2014 study claiming that real-world diesel car emissions were much higher than reported.

And yet Volkswagen committed to a strategy that, if revealed, was always going to be devastating for both their bottom line and their reputation. They programmed their cars to evade detection. It wasn’t an oversight or an accident, it was a deliberate deception when their whole brand proposition is based on safety and environmental consciousness.

Think Blue embodies Volkswagen’s goal of creating environmentally friendly products and solutions, communicating and encouraging better environmental behaviour and getting involved in initiatives that contribute to a sustainable future.

The reason for this crisis was that Volkswagen was expected to deliver more fuel-efficient diesel cars, with sufficient power, at a reasonable price. Something had to give in this equation, and clearly, it was emissions. Their “clean diesel” cars were based on a falsehood.

But the same market and regulatory pressures apply across the industry, especially in Europe. Will Volkswagen be only the first manufacturer to get caught out?

There’s a German industry website called “Clearly Better Diesel”, which trumpets the kinds of breakthrough that got Volkswagen into trouble:

Clean Diesel technology has changed everything. From the pump to the engine, it’s remarkably improved the driving experience. Say goodbye to loud trips with dirtier exhaust. And hello to great MPG, powered with exhilarating performance.

Well, Volkswagen will now be forced to say goodbye to dirtier exhaust, to the tune of billions of dollars. What about all the other diesel manufacturers? Is current diesel technology itself incapable of producing low emissions?

If a company like Volkswagen can deceive supposedly tough regulators around the world so successfully for so long, it’s clear that the green bona fides of large companies like it cannot be taken for granted. In particular, as the Climate Change Authority has noted, the idea of self-regulation seems risible given what we’ve learned about Volkswagen this week.

Clearly, the price of environmental safety is eternal and independent vigilance – along with improved emissions tests in real-world conditions. Then Volkswagen drivers might once again be able to flash one another peace signs without feeling like they’re choking the planet.

A pity the ingenuity used to circumvent emission tests wasn’t used to actually reduce emissions. Shows that in a system based on greed and the ludicrous notion of perpetual growth, even the most well known and respected brands cannot be trusted. What a shame for the future of humanity.

Not that great a feat… an accelerometer, speedo and a couple lines of code to wind back the throttle/timing.Anyway they have a far more disastrous legacy…. there are tens of thousands of their old cars still on the road! I suspect the savings in terms of their long life and embodied energy was well spent many years ago in the form of blue smoke, dropping cylinders and leaks.

“What a shame for the future of humanity.”True IFAP. The future of humanity, if there is one, will include solar and electric (this is as far as my imagination wants to go today) and what might seem like another sign that I’ve completely lost my mind is manual power. Why not attach generators to the exercise bikes in the health clubs so that the energy that we humans are using as a part of healthy living and keeping fit can be harnessed productively to power some of our battery chargers &c. and give us even better motivation to pedal faster and stronger and healthier and less fossil-fueled? The Sun is the source of all the energy I can think up peacefully, which photosynthesizes into greenery which gets eaten and eaten and eaten and at the top of the food chain, there is power from the light of the Sun right there in your head flogging the neurons into activity, sunlight, via the food chain into your bicycle pedals. Sounds a bit Conan I know.

I think the gym energy wasted ought to be harnessed too. In fact, maybe long train commutes could double as gym workouts to power the train and get the ever broadening arses of the public to actually move and burn some of that fat they’re storing. Though maybe they’ll need it when climate change cuts food production to below subsistence.

Good morning Del and ‘From the Fortress’ and thanks for indulging some extraterrestial thought bubbles. Sometimes it’s not easy to determine the stupidity of a thought bubble without some contemplation (which is not good for the economy) or better still some sane friends to chat-choo-chuck it at. (and there’s still 27 hours and 17 minutes approximately before my pink elephant advisory council come back on duty so thanks for filling in at such short notice.)If we were to calculate the maximum profit and miltiply it by 0.9 and be satisfied with that, then we could find that extra six minutes in an hour for topoligical contemplation. Where the profiteer sees a hole, the Renaissance idiology sees a vacancy for a donut.For example, removing seating from public transport would be a wonderful authoritarian move to forcibly encourage commuters to exercise their legs thus preventing the possibilities of deep-vein thrombosis, but wait theres more!If a train is packed tight full of passengers packed in like sardines port in starboard home all the way from engine to the proverbial Caboose, then when there’s a collision, the collective will stand a better chance of defying Relativity and the ones at the back won’t get squashed either.All it takes is six minutes an hour to think a little long-term run off the tracks.—————->On bicycles, I had the most amazing luck a couple of weeks back, right here at this very desk one afternoon on a Wednesday because the yellow-lid sulo bin was there on the verge by the road where came the sound of a small 2-stroke similar to a lawnmower, but gentler, and I jumped to my feet in unparallellelled curiosity and there before my eyes right outside the door was Manuel on a black mountain bike with little back fuel tank like a mini-Harley and the cutest little air-cooled 80cc running a chain-drive to a largish (approx 44-50 tooth) sproket on the LEFT side. He paid $200 on E-Bay for the whole deal second hand and fitted the engine to his bike himself. Manuel understands bush mechanics.I coveted his bike for a week, but the noise of a 2-stroke is enough to give anyone PTSD and whilst I’m not about to poke a stick throgh Manuel’s front spokes, in my heart of hearts it’s crystal clear that infernal combustion is history, and electric is the future … combined with human power, from the sun. Thanks for reading if you have and please do what this madness what you think best.

Waxing lyrical today Ben?And yet you’re right, the humble bicycle remains the most efficient form of human transport. It even makes us healthier by going somewhere.That just leaves the roads for the transport of bulk goods.

Love the bicycle myself and the ability to mix it up with train use in Melbourne is quite wonderful. Sadly it is not always practical because of the need to get to meetings in a well presented state and the limited ability to transport things with you so a car is a nice back-up, especially now that club registration is available for those of us that have eschewed treating our cars as a disposable commodity and use them sparingly. As much as we all should be concerned about how our car use is affecting our environment I doubt very much that VW’s reported emissions were a significant part of the purchasing decision making process of the bulk of their owners. I also suspect that many other diesel engined cars will have similar gaps in their tested and on-road emissions so it is likely that criticism of VW by other manufacturers is likely to be muted.

Our local sun is certainly the most important source of energy for life on Earth. Tidal, hydro, geothermal, nuclear are of others useful for generating electrical energy for human use.

You’re a funny thing aren’t you, just like the Queen, sitting up there in your castle in heaven and never write, never call, not even my birthday, but you were there when you were needed and that’s what really matters, Dad. Thanks again.

Ben,”The Sun is the source of all the energy I can think up peacefully”Not quite. It is true that fossil fuels are, in effect, condensed solar energy, and that most of the forms of renewable energy harvesting with which we are most familiar harvest energy that had it’s origins in the nuclear furnace of the Sun. But the Sun is not the only source of renewable energy for harvest.When the Earth and the other rocky planets were formed, they gobbled up most of the heavy elements that were scattered through the proto-planetary dust cloud and the really heavy stuff has ended up mostly in the cores of the rocky planets – including large amounts of unanium and othe radiocative elements. The decay of these elements, combined with the compressive force of gravity, creates a huge amount of heat that drives the convection currents in the mantle that are responsible for “continental drift” and the stresses exerted on the crust by this process produce “geothermal energy” that can be harvested by drilling into the crust of the Earth.And, of course, we have a Moon, that orbits the Earth every 28 days and exerts a gravitational pull on our oceans, creating tides. There are quite a few places in the world where tidal energy is alrady being exploited.Of course, I suppose that you could say that the uranium and other radioactive elements buried deep in our planet come from a massive exploding star, so the energy that they are releasing comes from A star – but not from ours.I think that the really important point is that, if we are clever enough to change the way in which we currently (no pun intended) look at “making” and using energy, we need never have to worry about it again. It is all around us in all sorts of forms, just waiting to be harvested. All we have to do is accept the gift.

Hello V it’s great to read of you especially in this thread which exceeds my expertise by a few parsecs. Your intelligence is greatly appreciated as well as these surprises (thanks chemists).I hope I can accomodate this geothermal energy into the growing framework of energy sources. As Dad pointed out about tidal like yourself, it’s not solar but lunar, (howl), and when all the different variations of what is basically atomic fusion, and lunar power is not lunar power at all, I am sorry. Well it is, if this was the only planet and that was the only moon, but it’s the force of gravity which makes the oceans dance. I just realised that there is a good reason to have water on this planet even more than making beer out of it. What the water does is form a liquid mass, like a cushion, so that impact from a meteorite of the same mass as the water on the Earth, will create some kind of reaction to keep the planet in orbit. Are there any cosmologists in the house?

When you really consider all the details, tidal energy is ultimately not renewable, although it might take some time to deplete it.

Here I am dribbling through the comments section instead of doing something productive and behold! An idea! MANUAL POWER.As an egotistical gym-junkie peanut I can confirm that a system that turned cardio into ACTUAL POWER (looks more impressive in capitals) would be truly exciting. I would do all the exercise, ramp up the wattage to a million and then download all the apps so I could show long suffering friends how much power my biceps were putting into the national grid. I can also confirm that there would be a million other gym junkie idiots whose’ brains would literally explode with ego-driven excitement over this possibility… Best idea I’ve seen today. Let’s make it happen. Somehow.

Gym bikes that collect energy aren’t a new idea. I saw a tv show several years ago that showed off one such gym. I don’t recall that much energy was harnessed, but it would’ve offered some marketing appeal.

It wouldn’t have happened under a free market, since there would be no environmental inspectors – and hence, no need for a device that tricks them.

Hi Zing,Sounds like you’re confusing free market with the “tragedy of the commons”Actually, on second thought, maybe you aren’t. They could be one in the same. Maybe that is why Anglo-American economics created “externalities”. The numbers look much better if you remove reality!Stupid planet.

That’s right, Zing, because in a free market we assume perfect knowledge, perfect mobility blah blah, and in such a free market we would, unlike today, factor in the true cost of automobiles in terms of their emissions, the cost to the environment, the cost to the atmosphere, the cost as they rust in some landfill and the opportunity costs of what more useful things we could have built. In a free market we wouldn’t even be driving them

Hi Dove, nice post, but unfortunately, Zing is right, in a perfectly free market as dreamed by uber capitalists, there would be no environmental regulations and we the consumer would pay for it with our lives.The problem is that you’re referencing Adam Smith’s “ideal market” which in no way, shape or form resembles the uber capitalists’ wet dream “free market”.What has happened is we the people have been conned into thinking otherwise.It would be nice too if the powers that be would actually work towards an “ideal market”, particularly as an “ideal market” assumes perfect knowledge and so much of the “free market” is in actuality based on telling us as little of the truth as possible.

zing,”It wouldn’t have happened under a free market”As we can never know what would happen in a “free market”, this is just idle speculation.The “free market” is an abstract construction that has some limited usefulness as a conceptual tool in developing models of market behaviour. It is not something that can actually occur in “the wild”. The only society that comes close to having a “free market” in the real world is Haiti, and not many of us would be too keen to live there.The reason for the impossibility of the “free market” is quite simple: nature abhors atopia. In other words, there is no such thing as a “level playing field”. There will always be tiny variations that feed back on themselves to produce progressively larger peaks and troughs in market power that inevitably lead to the development of monopolies.The really cool thing is that this fundamental principle doesn’t just explain why a “free market” is impossible, it also explains how and why the universe suddenly burst into life from nothingness. The universe was just as inevitable as the free market is impossible.

What “free” market could it be that you are discussing ? Motoring is highly regulated, by incompetents, viz govt approved clowns who do what they are told, so that’s all right. Any control mechanism has to have a complexity at least as great as that of the system being controlled: and it costs. The motor industry is vast, well funded, and long established. Volkswagen alone deploys more engineering talent, more closely focused on their job, than any government deploys to supervise them: I do not know the figures, but am willing to bet that the US govt agency for monitoring the motor industry is outmanned by Volskewagen AG, so their “control” consists of no more than green intentions and sermons to the choir. Everybody happy ? You bet your life we are ! (drum roll.)

This was about find a way around government regulations, it has nothing to do with the free market. Plenty of corruption and rigging of outcomes in none capitalist economies.

ifap,”A pity the ingenuity used to circumvent emission tests wasn’t used to actually reduce emissions.”Just another example of how stupid we are to trust “the market” to do things that it was not designed to do. It is also a great pity that the extraordinary creativity, ingenuity and innovation expended on deceiving consumers into desiring things for which they have no need, is not used for some more noble purpose, like sorting out the epidemic of mental illness sweeping our young adult population. And it is a great pity that the immense brain power of tens of thousands of accountants and lawyers, currently devoted to the evasion and minimisation of corporate tax liabilities is not directed toward increasing the productivity of enterprises and amplifying the power of productive labour.The problem is that we let “the market” decide how to allocate resources, talent and effort, and it is clearly failing in this task. While this is not surprising,, what is a little surprising is how we have deceived ourselves into believing that, because the market is incapable of making these vital decisions, they are unimportant.If we wish to resolve these obvious contradictions, we must be prepared to take some responsibility for them and to act through our elected representatives to ensure a proper allocation of talent, effort and resources. The market has had over three hundred years to get it right and there are no signs that it is any closer than it was three hundred years ago.

monster,”We implemented regulations.”Not enough.We have implemented regulations where the incompetence of the market is likely to have disastrous consequences. For example, we have regulations governing how pharmaceuticals are made and marketed, because the consequences of unregulated trade in this area would be catastrophic. But we don’t go far enough. We still allow the drug cartels to decide which drugs are produced, how much is produced, how much they sell for and to whom they are available.A few years ago, this stupid oversight on our part led to an enormous disaster in Africa, when vaccines for encaphalitus were suddenly withdrawn from the market because the drug cartels could not make enough money out of selling them to poor Africans. Luckily there is one country in the world that HAS regulated its pharmaceuticals industry and COULD step in to prevent a total disaster by producing huge quantities of the vaccine at a mere fraction of the price that the drug cartels claimed was unviable. An epidemic of encephalitus was prevented simply because the Cubans had the good sense not to leave vital decisions affecting the welfare of real human beings to “the market”.Another good example is the fisheries of Peru, which are the richest in the world. But the problem is that these fisheries, thanks to a lack of market regulation, are controlled by multinational food corporations who use the entire huge catch in the production of cat food. Meanwhile, protein deficiencies are rife among the children of Peru.We regulate the market most strongly in areas where its failure would be most catastrophic. But that does not the huge waste caused by the unrestrained operation of the market in other areas. We have a huge problem with malaria in third world countries, but more money is spent on pet grooming in one country (the US) than in research on malaria in the whole world. In the past few years, six new flavours of Coca Cola have appeared, while huge swathes of once arable farmland turn to desert.WE need to get our priorities right – it is not up to the market to do it for us.

“harmful emissions of nitrous oxides”At first I never gave too much credit to this story because I assumed that emissions regulations would happen to be tightening and guessed that the emissions reported were simply last year’s regulations. I was wrong, and I should have paid attention, because I don’t remember hearing the word ‘diesel’ mentioned on the news throughout these stories on News24.Maybe nobody though to mention such a technical point.Now, I’ve checked out the article linked at the Guardian about these nitrous oxides, because nitrous oxide is laughing gas, and it’s harmless unless you happen to be standing in front of the drag racer when the lights go green.Nitrous Dioxide (NO2)is the one mentioned in the link. I don’t know the difference from a chemist’s perspective, but just in case there maybe kiddies reading this, let me reassure you that nitrous oxide is good fun. hehehehe.

unfortunately mixed with water forms nitric acid that can lead to acidic rain… bad for buildings and people and virtually everything else. Apparently also an irritant.

Crystal, thank you David. Now I see the problem with nitrous oxide as exhausted into the atmosphere. I am glad that this minor detail has been sorted out to clarity with your help.I guess next time I go a racing, I’ll have to go for the blower and stop the acid rain in Cockburn Sound (that’s where the nearest dragstrip to here is not far inland from).

Nitrogen oxides act as catalysts in the formation of ozone which in turn assists in the removal of CH4. NO2 and HNO3 absorb incoming radiation and have a localised greenhouse effect but this is limited to regions where emissions are high due to the relatively short atmospheric residence time. On a global scale they are basically temperature neutral.The major sink for nitrogen oxides is through deposition as HN03 (in acidic rain) or as nitrate or ammonium.Breathing air containing high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is associated with lung damage and is considered very harmful to asthmatics and can prove fatal. Levels in Australia and the southern hemisphere more generally are relatively low but in the northern hemisphere the estimated human and economic cost of nitrous oxide emissions is very high.

Thank you also Tony. I still have a few loose ends bouncing around at the back end of these fingertips about what appear to be two different chemical types, one of which has a long term negative effect on a macro-scale, (NO) and the other (NO2) which just kills people in the usual micromanaged ways. After the first very serious asthma attack I have had in a few months two nights ago and still recovering thanks to the prescribed burning going on near Perth this week, (bastards), I vow to stop drag racing be it normally-aspirated or supercharged, for the sakes of the lungs of my fellow asthmatics who possibly don’t have the practice with tobacco smoking to cope with a triple-whammy like acid rain in the middle of a man-made bushfire with a bonus dose of NO2 to really stick the boot in. See the non-political reason why I’m also reluctant to part with tobacco that keeps my lungs big enough and strong enough to handle that smoke from a distant fire? It takes very strong lungs to keep enough oxygen in the blood when it’s mixed with smoke and fumes and chemicals, even as innocent as cloves?Stop.

ben, if you spent half the time you take writing your orthogonal nonsense as you did researching the problem with nitrous oxides, you’d be informed, and we’d be spared your ignorant self-adoring diatribes.Though i did giggle at the obvious sendup of people who claim to be smoking to train their lungs to be more efficient – that at least was well done.

Well far be it from me to consider my friends as ancient, rotten grape juice that leaves a bitter tannin taste in my mouth, but perhaps you have pals from the far side of the vineyard with a more fruity texture.

If it might help us to synchronise our sckedules I feel it’s best to let you know I do plan on leaving this desk at somewhere around 22:00 GMT tonight and shan’t be back except for a quick check of the state of things between tours until just in 02:00 GMT tomorrow so if you wish you may feel free to reload this file at that time and I promise to leave you alone and not stalk you one bit for four whole hours, if that might suit you.

As another hint as what goes through these fingertips, ABC News24 is on all day in the background, and things come straight through the digital network at light speed, across the room at Mach I, in the left ear, through the neck to the fingers in around 3 seconds, and as you would be well and truly aware yesterday the morning mob were discussing the *’greatest songs of the decades’ and failed to mention the absolute finest piece of 1970′s music ever played in a studio by Sanford Townsend Band, but how would you expect the average reader to put such a complex jugsaw together without some good SLOW careful reading – haste makes misunderstandings.Think of me as your conduit between the ABC and reality.* and remember Hockey and Washington, so stars&stripes come through the optical nerve and bypass the occipital lobe completely, for the sake of the 24hr instant news cycle, straight down the arms to the fingers, like a finely-tuned masterfully excuted sax/guitar duo, don’t you agree?

NO is nitric oxide which on exposure to oxygen turns into nitrogen dioxide NO2 which is a reddish gas. This is the reddish colour you can see on the horizon of Port Phillip Bay.The more correct formula is N2O4 which is the molecular structure of nitric oxide.N2O is nitrous oxide or laughing gas. It’s still not good for you.When copper is reacted by nitric acid, it gives off nitric oxide (a clear gas) which reacts with oxygen forming nitrogen dioxide (the reddish gas).It takes time for nitrogen dioxide to turn into nitric acid.

I’m still getting some strange gut feeling about this. There was just another news story on the tele about the resignation, and I’ve checked briefly on Wiki about atmospheric residence time which I see now is a common parlance across several disciplines (excluding psycho school my apologies) and T=V/q athough it’s not an exact science according to wiki but a good rule-of-thumb as far as I can glean from 15 minutes research.The strange gut feeling starts with F for Ferdinand Porsche. How does a 78 year old pioneer of automotive genius suddenly not know how to build a diesel engine as clean as last year’s engine? Why would a successful company suddenly need to fudge the statistics @ 24*C sea level or did someone melt a few icebergs to put some pressure on? (yes that’s geometrically illogical but you get the point?) The conspiracist in me imagines that there are some greenies somewhere in California out to make a name for themselves and if they’re going to bother then why not aim for the top, sheep4lamb, and sacrifice the sacred kombi? Volkswagen are guilty but to borrow from Shorty Shorten someone’s moved the gold coasts.

The story I read elsewhere is that researchers from the Univ. of West Virginia were trying to collect data to evaluate diesels for some other purpose. They found emissions well outside the level expected, repeated the experiment, then notified the California Air Resource Board, who in turn notified the federal Environmental Protection Agency.The US NOx limits are very strict, one of the reasons diesels are not popular there. My guess is that VW could not meet the restrictions under normal conditions, but tuned the engine so it would pass under lab conditions. The cheat likely saved the jobs of several layers of engineers, so they did it.

“The US NOx limits are very strict,”Thank you too TFM this thread has really taught me a lot, and as Bonzono points out there’s not much time to really delve into the science which I’m not already aware, so this is great, although it takes a little trust in this fast-paced real-time fighting cage.If I had my way the World NOx limits would be zero, so please don’t take me wrong on the drag-racing jokes because it’s nitrous that started it, not me that’s just self-evident. If this might paint a clearer picture, the Volkswagen Golf has a range of different ratios for forward motion, and only one ratio for travel in the reverse direction. This is conducive to order and progress. The question is whether the Volkswagen Corporation have shifted into reverse, or whether the West Virginians are stuck in overdrive. and that’s long term order but beyond the schoolyard popularity contest lies chaos. To summarise, VW have a lot to answer for, but they can’t have had much of a reason to suddenly fall over in a pile of morbidity because their record does tend to speak for itself over 78 years. It’s a matter of opinion whether the EPA are moving too fast or too slow. I know what’s ideal, but idealism is a lovely way to get shot in the back when you least expect it, because profit and idealism are lifelong enemies. #2: minihissyfit eliminated. Msg rcvd.

ben,”because nitrous oxide is laughing gas”"nitrous oxideS” is not “nitrous oxide”. Or, rather “nitrous oxide” is not “nitrous oxideS”.Nitrous oxides is used as a generic term to cover the various oxides, oxates and other combinations of nitrogen with oxygen. It is a pretty slack use of the word, because the “ide” suffix is actually supposed to tell you something about the makeup of the molecule, and it probably does for chemists, but I am not a chemist.You are right about nitrous oxide being almost harmless. It is non-toxic, but it can cause hypoxia if you imbibe too enthusiastically.Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if nitrous oxide pollution did not cause acid rain. Then we could encourage car makers to make cars that emitted nitrous oxide only and the price of houses located beside motorways would soar. We would all be perpetually happy, and the scare tactics of the Tories would roll off us like water from a ducks back. And the government could attract infinite revenue with a new 5% laughing tax.But, when we are talking about vehicle emissions, “nitrous oxides” is used in its generic sense rather than its specific use in chemistry, so that includes all sorts of nasties that are bad enough on their own, but even worse when they start combining with other gases and particulates.

” nitrous oxide being almost harmless”This hurts to remember but I did attend the birth of my first son, (who was not my first child but my eldest today) and much as I try to forget that mad insane fatherly instinct and embarrassment afterwards when I had shown my newborn son around the entire building instructing him on the names of all the things and returned him to his mother, but she thought it was quite funny at the time, for some reason unbeknowns to the midwives but her reaction sure spared me some serious explanations for my ad lib performance.

Ben, notice that they use the term “nitrous oxides” which is a group of gases NO2 harmless laughing gas, NO3 and NO4, these are toxic highly corrosive compounds that will burn organic material including human tissue.

Here’s the prediction of the ramifications. VW negotiate a deal with the EU (via the German reps) to pay a pittance compensation and sack a couple of people who were ‘clearly’ doing something ‘against company policies’.The USA impose a much bigger penalty, but not so big that they would have to apply it to US car companies if they’re found to be doing the same thing.VW’s share price will rise again and apart from a brief hit to the bottom line and a couple of sackings (probably re-hired as consultants a year or two later) VW will be back to normal.Those who died from the exhaust fumes across Europe and the world and those who remain sick will remain so and nobody will really be held to account, after all, it’s a corporation, it couldn’t be doing something wrong, it must have been a person who did something wrong.No doubt the IPA will be posting something about the need for less government as a result of a corporation being caught poisoning people because they self-regulated.

Dean, I think the ramifications will be enormous.VW will now be consigned to the dustbin, as when you walk into a VW showroom now you can’t do so without thinking that everything about their cars is a lie.I reckon sales will drop down to almost zero. Who would buy one now? Trust is the most hard won attribute but now it is lost, forever tainted.I know I won’t buy a VW, knowing the level of evil that has permeated their ranks. Who knows if this is just but the tip of the iceberg?

Next your going to tell me your Apple computer does not take your private information and never gets viruses.I suggest everyone take a look at a dvd called the four horsemen. it can be found on the renegadeinc website.If you truely want to save the planet sell all your shares. bring back the gold standard and stop consuming at the rate you currently are.VW is only doing this because the people want it. We are so stupid that we cannot imagine a system not based on economic growth.Go forth, Breed and consume. The difference between yourself and all other animals is that you are so selfish you wil kill everything to achieve nothing.

“VW is only doing this because the people want it”no, they’re doing it because it makes the shareholders more wealthy. Don’t bother lumping me in with the WV shareholders who hung on to their shares.

Computers can do good things and a lot of them. Equally likely, in the hands of unscrupulous hombres, some rather creative and dodgy deals can happen too.I stopped briefly to speak with a neighbour of mine today. He now has a new BT-50 ute. Before that, he had a LandCruiser ute. I asked him about it, and was told that he got rid of it, despite the fact that it is still a new model. He reckoned since he installed a computer chip on it, it started drinking more diesel than it used to. To install a “performance chip” on a car is meant to give you better performance as well as improve fuel economy. It was not the case !So all those electronic gizmos on new cars may not actually be as effective or as environmentally friendly as it is claimed.The “chance” discovery by a chap by the name of, wait for it… “German” was quite incredible. He is one of those who doesn’t always believe in the official lines, or “lies”. His efforts caused some red faces among the government monitoring officials, and huge problems for VW. It goes to show that it is OK to be a skeptic.

“To install a “performance chip” on a car is meant to give you better performance as well as improve fuel economy.”It’s not that straightforward. Despite there being several interacting variables, the laws of thermodynamics hold sway and the only way to get more power out of any constrained system is to burn more fuel.

However, if you design the system correctly to improve the efficiency of the combustion process you can reduce the fuel consumption. Mercedes & BMW have done this. The engines are very complex but produce more power and reduce consumption and emissions.Same thing for modern trucks. Haul bigger loads more easily and lower fuel consumption & emissions; or do the same job with better economy and smaller (read lighter) engines).

“However, if you design the system correctly to improve the efficiency of the combustion process you can reduce the fuel consumption. “Also true, but that has to do with the design of the mechanical parts of the engine and gas flow through the engine. It is why modern Holdens and Fords produce more power and deliver better economy than the old agricultural engines used in the sixties.Once that is done, the engine can be tuned for economy or performance, but the two are conflicting requirements. Therefore, modifying the control system for more performance means it will used more fuel, which was my original point. Messing with the control system parameters in the chip cannot alter the mechanical design of the engine.

Wrong, when an engine is tuned properly it is at it most efficient in terms of economy and performance. Too rich and it just blows unburnt fuel out the exhaust, too lean and it is starved for fuel and won’t perform.

“Wrong, when an engine is tuned properly it is at it most efficient in terms of economy and performance. “So what happened with Mr Grumpi’s friend’s chipped diesel Land Cruiser, then? He got his extra performance but it used more fuel. Read the thread again!

Tracing back the ABC articles, wasn’t it the USA regulaters who were questioning the results they were getting, and the company had to own up to it, as the USA wasn’t going to allow the cars into the country until they were satisfied ?the problem lies in whoever ordered the computer to be changed to rig the tests.

The guy who opened the can of worms was trying to prove the real world benefits of high tech diesels VW have 2 problems now and a huge one in the future Tune them so they are legal and lose performand and economy an face the rage of owners who want their money back as its not what you promised and the lack of trust in the future The fines will be substantial too There are 11 million offending engines BTW VW make more than 2.0 diesels and they are used in other brands besides VW/Audi/Skoda/Seat brands

Grumpi,did you ask your neighbour why he thinks the manufacturers didn’t include such a relatively cheap modification in the sold product?here’s a tip – because it doesn’t work. As the discussion below shows, you can’t actually GET more energy out of a well-tuned engine.

As much as I hate to admit it, I am more of a politician than I want to admit… I believe all of the posters here are correct, in some ways.For a start, cars are made to meet many performance criteria. Longevity, power, torque, economy, emission, comfort, price, and of course, electronic gizmos to make them appealing to gadget enthusiasts.Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a free lunch. You raised the performance, fuel use may rise according. Not only will fuel usage a likely penalty, but the longevity of the engine as you try to squeeze more out of a block of metal design to last for a certain duration, all things being equal. There is one theory why adding a performance chip may improve the car’s outputs. Some car manufacturers intentionally tuned their cars “below” optimal, leaving room for future adjustment for better outputs. They can then make claims about their new models are better in performance than the previous. In fact, all they do is to re-program the on-board computer. Conspiracy? Ask Donald Trump !

And “After Market” chips are certainly not as effective as the OEM programs. The producers of “performance chips” do not have the resources of the OEMS – the people and the humungously expensive test facilities. The OEMs have to go through the tortures of the damned, with great time and expense to have their vehicles comply deliver a satisfactory compromise between environmental regulations, performance and economy. If you have been involved in this, and I have, the concept that an aftermarket chip maker can do better is preposterous. Whatever performance improvement they get is at the expense of non conformance with regulation – and even an huge OEM like Volkswagen is not immune to compromise for money.Sale of performance chips should be banned, and any cars fitted with them de-registered.

It just shows that there is no limit to which a large corporation will go in the pursuit of profit. And note this may not turn out to have been a very profitable decision but at the time, in the short term thinking of somebody, this seemed like a bright idea. Big corporations are not rational. Big corporations are the enemy. Not because there’s inherently bad people running them. Just because that’s the way it is. A mixture of profit maximising, lack of accountability, people justifying their existence by coming up with really stupid ideas and just plain old human fallibility make for a terrible combination.Without big corporations we don’t get those mass produced things that we love so much. They’re a necessary evil. But they need to be regulated. When you hear of red tape bonfires you should be worried.

‘Big corporations are the enemy. Not because there’s inherently bad people running them.’I think there are bad people running them. When ‘success’ is nothing but profit, the people who will rise to the top are those will will stop at pretty much anything to get the profits.I don’t believe that power corrupts, I believe that those who seek power are those who are corruptible. Or as is often said ‘those who seek power are the last who should get it’. I have no idea how to do anything about it though. But, as you say, people who think regulation is bad are kidding themselves.

It is said that corporations do not have ethics, people do. In my experience that is so true.And I would add that the bigger the pay, especially bonuses, the less ethical people tend to become.

Risk taking behaviour increases when a company gets rid of all the older workers.Young men in particular take less risks when there are a few old codgers in the office.Some young upstart took a risk in order to sell lots of cars in the lucrative USA market. The risk seemed OK compared to the likely bonus.

I agree Esteban it’s good to have a mix of ages, genders and orientations in organisations. Too much of one type can be troublesome. But bad behaviour, though, is not restricted to age. Look at Rupert Murdoch.I think the notion of a corporation being akin to a citizen in society has gone. We used to be able to call many corporates ‘good corporate citizens’ and that was because they had an understanding of the positive contribution they could make to society. That thinking is now dead and buried…it’s everyone for themselves. The GFC showed that in all it’s ugliness. It seems corporates now exist for the express purpose of hoovering money out of society by any means available, then concentrate and horde that wealth in just a few hands. Often we are the targets of these massive hoovering operations and sometimes we are collateral damage but we are never assets to be valued.

Well now they are a public menace because they lied to us about emissions.The modern diesel motor is damaging to public health because it burns fuel at a very high temperature and the subsequent particles are finer than petrol ones, and it gets into the lungs easier.This is common knowledge and has been ignored because the emissions of this stuff is supposed to be safer.Now, we know that Volkswagon has been cheating Public Health, and lying about its research and application.I am aware of California’s upbeat concern with environmental issues (60′s, is grouse) and Public Health which is a primary concern with America – a substance that will allow the common man to make of his life what he/she will – can get angry with Germany for making a fool of the rest of us.California should ban VW, permanently from 2016, and it is not good enough that the VW CEO says in response that … ‘we stuffed up’.ps sounds like Hitler, hey ?

Hmm, those clean green Germans, leading the way for a better industrial/environmental future, and for this company at least, its all smoke and mirrors (intentional pun).Makes me wonder though, as I have seen a lot of late model diesel cars across a few makes, spew visible smoke under hard acceleration. Wonder how their software reads under test?

VW could bid in the next round of the LNP Direct Action taxpayer give aways! They could offer to re-program all the cars they have sold as part of the normal service cycle and reduce emissions by zillions of tonne! How much could it be worth? $100m? $500m?? $1bn?

Dont give them ideas.especially since they will be saving emissions, and thus would qualify for money if we had a DA plan. Or just sell part of the emissions they saved to the market if we had a a ETS

Perhaps, but the reprogramming would doubtlessly reduce the engines horsepower and torque production considerably… Owners end up with a perfectly legal but undriveable car?

“Owners end up with a perfectly legal but undriveable car?”It seems obvious that VW wouldn’t care about that as long as they made some more easy profits.

Such improvements would not reduce performance to the point of being un-driveable. That statement is exaggeration in the extreme. All our cars would be perfectly driveable with half the power they have – they were in the past, and they are now. It is just that us punters have become so besotted with performance, which we hardly ever use and “need” even less frequently, to the great detriment of road safely and fuel consumption.

“Their diesel system was clever enough to know when it was being tested by the likes of the US EPA”….. What a waste of German intelligence!

You are incorrect … though the guilt may come from them !Production expertize does indeed generate from industry gossips from GM and Fiat/Chrysler (specifically, common floor plans that may in future models be incorporated to cut costs, as well as electric models – a form of traction which humbly, I believe, will be still-born) ; Ford has had some input to your proposal, but it is German expertize and subsequent greed that will, rightly, kill VW off.

and Bugatti, Rolls Royce and others as they are VW owned. I guess we can look forward to british cars and their historic reliability if there is such a thing.Samuel cant compete on intelligence so makes incoherent observations.

Fuel economy and emissions were a major priority when I bought my VW. I was so proud of their technical achievements. I now feel totally betrayed. I doubt that I shall ever buy another one.

I’m with you on that.If my car is found to be failing this, I want them to refund me the purchase price, because what they sold me did not match their sales documentation. I know that’s not going to happen, but it’s what they should be forced to do.

I was looking seriously to buy one of the VW cars in the next year, but not now.I wonder how many others will also not buy?

Cant help but laugh, two weeks after Volkswagen told DaS Energy to stick its revolutionary new Diesel engine, Volkswagen became Das Auto, but without a DaS Engine. Volkswagen cannot match DaS one moving part Diesel engine for performance or efficiency, so its brain boys set about to criminally deceive the public.

For all its dishonesty, the idea itself was brilliant and craftily achieved.The plan surrounding the idea wasn’t so clever. They must have known they would be discovered eventually and dragged over the coals. Did the plan go any further than scamming people and getting caught? They clearly forgot the bit where they’re supposed to take their ill-gotten winnings and flee to the Bahamas.The interesting question is how much the management knew. If someone talks to the engineers and says “make this smog machine pass an emission test” the engineers will find a way to make it so. Did the lawyers check to see if it was legal? Or was this a case of don’t ask, don’t tell?

I wonder how the regulation was written? If the wording just stated that the cars were to perform above a certain level during a specified test then they did.

A quick look at EPA and CARB standards indicates on operation life of years and kilometers/miles A simple check will show the cheats If 2016 models use more fuel and perform no better its likely a cheat on past models But the car companies do that cerification too…..

You could ask the engineers for an on / off switch. Just say its to test whatever at the different types of running.the tricky bit was to tell someone else to flick the switch automatically when its being tested

At least four people knew, the CEO, the operations manager, the software development manager and the programmer.

“to get busted perpetrating massive environmental fraud”Not the only ones doing it. Plenty of scientists and environmental groups doing it as well.

I assume you are alluding to climate change science? If so, some proof for your claims.? on the other hand, here is a massive corporation caught red handed cheating the environment on a global scale.

Climate modelling errors, the debate on relationship between CO2 and warming, Tree ring data. While some data is legitimate plenty of issues have been exposed as not later down the track. This all helps the snowball gather momentum at the time the data is released however. Media are quick to acknowledge some knew data confirming the sky is falling but very lapse in identifying the data that was incorrect. And given the scientific and social bullying on the issue no wonder. A study shows 97% of scientists agree with it, leaving 3% of the worlds scientists as not. That still leaves a lot of scientists who don’t agree and it only takes one to be right.

If you were diagnosed, in a teaching hospital by 97 doctors, with a terminal illness which could be contained if treatment started immediately and three others said you were well, would you be happy to do nothing?

I question German values as a whole. Angela overtly welcoming 80,000 refugees made me wonder if those people were being happily welcomed because she knew they would end up on a BMW…or VW factory floor, further boosting the German ecomomy with very little labour costs to the manufactorers

My thoughts exactly, the Germans are experienced in moving lots of people across Europe on trains, accommodating them in Camp style accommodation, then giving them “jobs” in factories!

Make that 800.000 migrants, saywhat, throw in a PR exercise gone wrong, a bit of Third Reich guilt and a chancellor who thinks of herself as the Queen of Europe and you’re there. But the short answer to your assumption is – that’s what it is.

They never said they’d welcome 800,000. They said they expected to receive 800,000 applications.Hype, hype and more hype…

Some facts, facts and more facts, Sea Monster. Paola Totaro on The Drum, September 15, in an article titled “European migrant crisis: Why Germany reinstated border controls”: “Yesterday, the German vice-chancellor, Sigmar Gabriel, flagged that a previous pledge to take 800,000 refugees over the next 12 months is now likely to rise to more than one million – all of them requiring housing, medical and emergency living resources as they settle and find work.” Feel free to check other sources looking for more hype.

I think Totaro got it it wrong. I don’t think any pledge has been issued. The only statements attributed to Gabriel are along the lines of: Germany expects “up to” 800,000 asylum seekers and other European countries must take their fair share.

“I question German values as a whole.”They were throwing people into ovens. Now they’re turning the planet into an oven with cars designed to spoof environmental inspectors. What is it with them and industrialised murder?

So here we have a bunch of conservatives who don’t believe in global warming and in support of coal making environmental statements. Jealousy is a curse isn’t it. I’ll set your mind at rest, unlike here, germany has and is a leader in many many many manufacturing sectors and owns about 33% of US manufacturing.

VW and BMW factories are manned mostly by robots and highly skilled technicians who manage them. Not much call there for for your average olive picker I’m afraid.

But of course corporations don’t need to be regulated. Government only ever gets in the way and makes things less efficient.When will Rand’s devotees learn? If there is a buck to be made doing something that kills lots of people then corporations will do it hand over fist.

Indeed tonypFor a home-grown VW story, Google Wittenoom, the mine that spawned the Hancock dynasty – it was simply abandoned by its then (later) owners and still hasn’t been cleaned up.

I work with a number of people in “embedded computer systems” and have for decades. Programming tricks to identify emissions testing or mileage testing and then “cheat” are quite common and have been around since the first embedded microprocessors started to be used as engine controllers. I would not at all be surprised if further investigation would reveal ALL the manufacturers are doing this.

LG did this a few years ago with their fridges. Cost them a lot of good will. They added a pre-programmed chip that worked out when energy testing was happening and reduced cooling to reduce energy use to get a higher star rating. Then claimed it was accidental before offering money back. They were caught out when some fridges moved into “test mode” which meant food started to go off.VW should at least offer full refunds on all cars because there is no way the cars will give the economy that purchasers expected when the cars were purchased, no matter what “fixes” they do during the recall to reduce emissions.

And who else is doing exactly the same? I am sure the VW emissions easily meet current Australian standards, which are nothing like those of California. California emission have been the toughest in the world for years in all areas and do not reflect those standards elsewhere.

The California emissions are impossible to replicate in Australia no matter what car you drive. I’ve been told that it is due to our lower class of diesel though. Euro and US diesels are much lower in sulfur than ours. And my European car ends up producing an emissions warning light every so often due to the diesel we have used to fuel it up the last time. It is only the ultra variants brands of diesel that don’t.

But to add some perspective, remember that your diesel uses about 50-60% of the fuel used by a comparable petrol car.

World standards are basically very similar Our standards are not 10 20 or 30 times lower than EU US or JP standards Other companies have met them legally VW sought a marketing edge Better economy and performance by fraud Most standards are self regulated The company certifies that the required standard is met

The USA standards for NOx and particulates are much stricter than anywhere else. They are based on a “per mile” emission. Only small cars could meet these requirements until the urea injection systems came along. But it appears VW wanted to forego the urea injection systems, so fudged the standard system.

I watched on TV a German race driver compare an HSV to a M5 once. His verdict? Well he wasn’t about to commit treason and career suicide. Ah… the auto on the M5 is much more precise. And then (his discomfort was palpable) but the HSV (although he called it for the Vauxhall badge it was wearing) costs a third of the price. So who are the better engineers? Holden or BMW? One minor deficiency at a third of the price. Take a brief look at reliability surveys and see where VW comes in compared to Toyota and Mazda. Then compare BMW and ask why a base 3 Series costs three times the price of Corolla or 3.Hype, hype and more hype. And unthinking nationalist prejudice.VW’s ruse wasn’t clever engineering. This is smoke and mirrors to further the hype.They couldn’t engineer the car they claimed. They couldn’t meet the mix of performance, economy and pollution control they were selling.

Can someone clue me in, do we have the same stringent emissions tests that the US has?Did they perpetrate this deception on us as well?I predict a high probability of really good deals on VW cars in the near future.

The US has much stricter NOx and particulate emission rules, particularly California. One of the reasons there are few diesels there.

Seriously, do you really think an HSV is a better car technically than an M5? Do you really think the handling is the only area that the M5 was better in? Regardless of the hype being thrown at VW over this issue, they still make really efficient cars (far better than any Aust or US car). My wife has a Golf which is claimed to return 5.7 l/100km on non-urban roads. We recently averaged 5.3 over approx. 200 kms – show me a holden that will get that sort of economy!

No I don’t think that. I’m relaying the opinions of the German expert who reviewed it. He thought the only minor advantage the M5 had was the auto transmission. And that advantage cost one about $100,000.VW is only making efficient cars because its cheating on emissions control. Output and efficiency suffer if the emissions control is on. Its not a fair to compare to rival brands who don’t have the defeat system. VW was selling an engineering lie. It could not do what it said it could do.People who pay too much for a German cars are emotionally invested in them. That’s simple psychology. They have to justify to themselves and others that their extra expenditure is worth it. Top of the line Mazda 3 with 2.5L engine and all bells and whistles $39,000. Base model BMW 316i. And Mazda is more reliable according to the JD Power dependability survey. VW is less reliable than the industry average according to the same survey.

monster,”They couldn’t meet the mix of performance, economy and pollution control they were selling.”Very neatly summed up.From what I understand the fraud was achieved by simply setting the engine management computer to achieve the stricter Californian standards while the tests were being carried out, but not on cars that were actually being sold. So they were effectively using the perfomance figures achievable under the less stringent European standards to market cars in the US that, if they complied with the standards, would not achieve these figures.I think that a little more digging is likely to reveal that this practice is not limited to VW.

And where does the money come from to pay the fines anf for the recalls? It comes from parts and new sales-so VW are going to have to have some more big price increases soon, to go with the last big warrany claim set. I won’t be paying them to be stupid. I definately won’t buy one now, I’d never afford to keep it going.

3-nitrobenzathrone is a highly carcinogenic component of diesel exhaust. I wonder if that is being spewed out in higher concentrations by these engines as well ?

There are many other carcinogenic components of diesel exhaust for example formaldehyde, benzene and ketones. Diesel exhaust is in the worst category of carcinogenic substances and has been described as 100 times more toxic than petrol exhaust by US government studies. The aromatic carcinogens cannot be filtered out or catalysed OR reduced by higher quality fuels according to studies by our own CSIRO. It is not really appropriate for passenger vehicles that make short trips. Why anyone would want a diesel car is beyond me.

They use less fuel, and in Europe diesel is generally cheaper than petrol as well.That said, whether diesel cars are justified for low distance travel is debateable.

The financial incentives for top management are so great that even stupid ideas like this can be made to seem reasonable. How on earth anyone thought that they could sustain a deception that relied upon no-one measuring the test result against the real-world result is the really astonishing point here. It reminds me of the scandal in the 1970s when we discovered that dangerous design faults in some US cars that were known to kill people were allowed to continue because the cost of fixing them was more than the cost of those lives lost. As long as you valued a human life at only a few hundred dollars, that is, which the car company, its insurers and it’s lawyers did.Now we have found out. VW is run by people more interested in their global property portfolios and their own self-aggrandisement than they are the performance and reputation of their cars. It’s not just American companies that do this kind of thing. An 80-year old company and billions of dollars of market value gambled recklessly for the enrichment of a few individuals at bonus time. Such greed and narcissism is now par for the course in global business. I think all companies should be assumed to be up to no good at the boardroom level and should face far closer scrutiny from regulators.

After reading about that VW debarkle I’m glad I’m driving around in a 30 year land rover I inherited from a good uncle, who installed a Perkins diesel engine in it, Modern vehicles just don’t cut the mustard compared to the older machinery whose simplicity was their strength.

I am amazed that people are surprised that real-world vehicle emissions are substantially greater than those in the lab. Just have a look at fuel economy figures to see that there is always a significant difference. There has always been a discrepancy, and likely always will because of the vast number of variables that cannot realistically be covered in lab testing. The fact that a car company will manipulate its engine programming to get around the tests is hardly surprising. I would be far more surprised if it turns out that every other manufacturer hasn’t done the same thing, to a greater or lesser degree. Besides, anybody who cares about the environment and who knows anything about relative emissions outputs wouldn’t be buying a diesel over a petrol engine in the first place.

In most vehicles I have owned, I have gotten better economy figures than advertised. Not worse. Apart from a v6 4×4 that I once had. It was the only one that used more. Emissions though…… I have no idea and you just have to be able to trust the claims. Mainly because it is so easy to test economy.

It is very very far from easy to test economy. There are so many variables. These days road testing is statistically inconclusive due to this. Testing is therefore done on computer controlled rolling dynamometers in climate controlled chambers – and even then variations between builds of the same vehicle are often greater than the performance change being measured.

G’day Dom,you do know that VW cars are named after winds and not sports, Don’t you. Of course you do, as do all other VW owners.

I can’t believe the outrage here. If anything is “illegal”, it will only be in California, which regulates nitrogen oxides (NOT “nitrous” oxides, as incorrectly mentioned in the article). I guess this only arose because VW was trying to sell EU-spec cars in the US as simply and quickly as possible. To demonise VW diesels specifically is ludicrous. All cars have dangerous emissions, if you want to drive with some performance. You might as well ban all engine-management systems. If governments produce difficult or impossible emissions legislation, all companies will respond in a similar way. I guess, in the end, electric cars will be mandatory.The hand-wringing in this article is solely about dangers to human health, NOT climate change. Nitrogen oxides, as noted elsewhere on here, are not too relevant to the latter. Diesels are indeed “dirty”, with the main health problem being particulate emissions, which the EU have cracked down on. Nitrous oxide (N2O) is not harmful, nitric oxide (NO) is deadly, but rapidly converts to the obvious brown nitrogen dioxide (NO2) on contact with air.This is nasty, but I find it hard to believe that one could be quietly poisoned to death by NO2 without noticing it and taking avoiding action. Considering the non-diesels, I’m much more worried by the cancerous benzene in lead-free petrol than the original lead.

Your statement that “All cars have dangerous emissions, if you want to drive with some performance” is not actually true. Indi 500 cars run on alcohol with nearly 0 dangerous emissions. The Lotus Exige 270E is a GEM car that runs on Gas, Ethanol and Methanol. With methanol fuel giving the best performance of all 3.In addition, the new electric cars, like Tesla, outperforms many (if not all) of the high performance cars. And Edmunds has learned that Tesla will enter the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2015!

Yes. I was intending to refer to the populace’s existing road cars. My main point was that there is nothing especially bad about VW diesels compared with the bulk of other existing cars. To make one “safer” it is not sufficient to simply change to another brand: something more game-changing would need to be done, not only on a personal level, but by the majority of other people as well.

You are so right. The NOx emissions are all about SMOG. I attended conferences in the US in the mid 90′s where engine manufacturers presenting papers showing reduced NOx and so on but with 5% or so INCREAS in fuel consumption to do this received a standing ovation!One wonders which is worse, smog or warming?

Just an example of the ‘new world’ we now face. A few hidden lines of imported computer program to get around environmental testing. A few hidden lines of computer program on imported sim cards/phones to spy on every user. A few hidden lines of computer program to make the printer stop working after 100,000 prints. A few hidden lines of computer program to skim a few cents off every e-card transaction. A few hidden lines to stop a motor on command. A few hidden lines to manipulate equipment for whatever reason the originating country or company supplying/writing the computer program wishes.This is already shown to be an economic and environmental issue. It goes well beyond a matter of regulation. It could quickly become/is a National Security/Sovereignity issue on ‘every’ purchase of overseas programmed, computer controlled equipment bought unless the Australian government is given copies of, and permitted maintenance of the programs. This will mean copywright/patent laws will need to be relaxed not tightened, and contrary to the what the US is demanding in the TPP.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Why are we surprised at what the “Peoples Car” have done? As the man said to the Washington Post journalists following and uncovering the “Watergate Break Ins” you must follow the money!The same situation prevails here!!!!Kind Regards.

Vehicle manufacturers surprisingly are not really concerned with the environment at all, and are definitely not too concerned with the drivers and their safety either. Global transport authorities wash their hands every year, of the many road deaths caused by vehicles, as they can’t solve the problem, and are very certain no one else can either. Ambulance officers, police officers and firemen see the failure of these authorities and manufacturers on a regular basis. Only educating the driver correctly, with the critical necessary knowledge required, will result in a significant change in outcomes. From ‘Driver’s Safety’ author James K Glaspy,

It is too early in the investigation to know how the defeat code was introduced into the engine management system.The actual version of the engine management code would have been signed off at a management level below the Volkswagen board. I really doubt the Volkswagen board initially put their signatures on a piece of paper that states they are going to knowingly cheat the USA environment laws. Although it will be interesting to know how long the board delayed or obstructed notification of the defeat code to the EPA.If you read the EPA letter date stamped 18 Sept 2015 the notification process to Volkswagen started in May 2014. Volkswagen initiated a voluntary recall in December 2014 to address the poor environmental performance. This recall failed to fully address the issues. Now in 2015 Volkswagen has finally been forced to admit the existence of the defeat code in the engine management software.The defeat code has been enabled for many years and it could have been removed by Volkswagen in the December 2014 recall. There is a chance that the Volkswagen person (or team) attempting to fix the problem reported in May 2014 did not know about or recognize the defeat code was enabled. The engineer(s) appear to have attempted to kludge the engine management code to address the reported problem in May 2014 without knowing the root cause of the problem. I also wonder if the problem had been passed down to a relatively junior engineer who had limited experience with the software. Once the USA advised the kludge failed to resolve the problem somebody at Volkswagen has finally looked for root cause and had an OMG (expletives deleted) moment. I wonder how long it took management to come clean to the board with the details of what had been done. The Volkswagen board is now involved with an external investigation. The results of all the investigations will probably be incorporated into future courses for students studying management or product liability.My guess is the defeat code was introduced into the initial version of the engine management code, enabled by a conditional assembly switch and been overlooked ever since. Nobody has disabled the defeat code because the engine management software has always been done that way. Nobody looking at the reported issue knew what the defeat code did, or if they knew of its existence they assumed it is not enabled for production vehicles.Conspiracy or stupidity is the billions and even more billions of dollars question. My bet is on stupidity. If it is a board level conspiracy to break the law then throw them all in jail.

Update:The CEO has now been forced to resign and he claims no knowledge of the defeat code. So the initial decision for incorporating the defeat code was taken at a lower management level.

Update:Yesterday the Australian Volkswagen web site allowed you to check options via a ‘Model and Pricing’ tab for a Golf with a TDi motor. Today the site throws up an error message:” Unable to load content.Sorry, there is a technical problem. We are working to resolve this issue so please try again later”On their web site there are still active links to to Golf TDi specifications and pricing.May be Volkswagen Australia is going to remove the option of a Golf with the TDi engine, or they are just having technical issues with their web site. My guess is they are removing the option of a TDi engine.I wonder what happens in Australia to dealer’s stock or people currently purchasing a Volkswagen with a TDi engine.

Update:The Australian web site for Volkswagen has stopped throwing errors and the TDi engine is still listed as an option.Volkswagen announced 11 million vehicles have the defeat code installed therefore the defeat code will be running on the Australian vehicles. It is still unclear what the effect will be on the emissions from the vehicles in Australia.

I just want to add that I think your post is the most knowledgeable comment regarding how this problem has developed – I agree with the post in its entirty. The two reasons I have are 1: people, including junior programmers just do not appreciate how code gets handed from one person to the next, and can soon become something that is not understood properly at all.and 2: that old saying, never suspect malice where stupidity is possible and more likely the culprit.

You can bet they are not the only ones who are doing it – and now it’s public knowledge that they have been found out, someone else will do a better job at concealing something else in the future. Just like the continuing battle between the hackers and computer security software.

There is absolutely nothing new or surprising about any of this. Much more mysterious is how Harley Davidson motorcycles presumably manage to pass noise tests while making walls shake and waking up and frightening babies everywhere they pass.

Ahhh… the sound of that deep throated rumble is music to my ears, but I admit that I am half deaf. When a Harley is around, you know it!. My pet complaint is against electric vehicles, I have stepped in front of a few dead silent modern cars that are entering vacant parking spaces (you can’t even hear their tyres on the bitumen).

I get a weekly motoring magazine in the email free and they talked about just this over 3 years ago, even before the VW DSG AUTO problem came to light. Its a known trick used by ALL the car manufacturers, not just VW and i just wonder why they have chosen now to discover it?Proof came from reverse engineering the blackbox engine management code which is illegal under the DMCA code of the US. Ironic, that the same process could be use to kill someone and make it look like an accident too (hence the reluctance to allow code to be viewable to hackers and consumers – ie, the much hated home ‘tinker’s)Its the reason your car never gives a true k/L figure too, they don’t want real life figures that contradict the feel good green/gold sticker on all new car windows screens. Even though they are worthless!

I can’t help but keep thinking “why?”Why spew out pollution unless: A) designing to meet these standards is so costly as to make it impossible to sell their cars or B) if emissions standards are complied with their cars are gutless and impossible to sell.Can anyone think of any different options? (Neither A or B excuse VW in the slightest, I might add, I just cannot for the life of me understand the motivation).

If/when you deal with individuals at an executive level, you will soon realise that they may be there due to their rat-cunning, or their ability to talk-the-talk, but they are most certainly not there due to their intelligence. Want to see what clever looks like? Work with engineers and scientists!

Scandals such as this lasts for decades – witness the scandal of Nestle promotion of baby milk formula over breast feeding in the 1970s which still resonates today. VW hopes of becoming the worlds largest car manufacturer is doomed – and rightly so.

The problem is that it is difficult to burn diesel fuel cleanly. It is also difficult to produce it cleanly. The solution is to change the fuel. Bio-Dimethly Ether (DME) burns 90% cleaner than diesel and does not require diesel particulate filters or diesel exhaust fluids to achieve this. And it has a higher cetane rating. These are some of the reasons that Volvo and Mach are now making engines powered by DME.Or, use bio-methanol for a fuel. When used in an engine designed for methanol, it is more efficient than the most efficient diesel AND is again 90% cleaner – both to burn and produce. Production of either of these fuels would return prosperity to rural areas that could both grow the energy crops and produce the fuels. And both have the least impact – and least cost – on the existing infrastructures to support their use.

Why do we Anglos ALWAYS have to go on about Nazi Germany’s past? Just because VW had its roots in the Nazi-period doesn’t mean that Hitler is responsible for the 2015 crisis. That’s like saying he’s also responsible for a dud Hugo Boss line-up Summer 2015/16. Just report it for what it is: a major corporate lie from one of the world’s most-trusted brands. There’s no need to bring Nazis in to it. Sorry, which country was it again which was accepting more asylum seekers in four years than Australia will ever see?

I know, and it’s even worse in Israel! Always banging on and on about the war. And that’s not to mention the Greeks. They seem a bit bitter about it all as well. Then there’s the French. They fought three wars with the Germans in a century to our two… and don’t they just go on about it!Then there’s Poland of course. Poor little Poland, like a nut in the jaws of a cracker! But I’m sure no one ever mentions the war over there, except on Sunday’s, when they visit their dead relatives at the cemetery! For the rest of the week it’s vorsprung durch technik das auto all the way! Then there’s Russia. I’m mean, they’re still going on about Napoleon, let alone Hitler… The company was started by Nazis, so there’s no need to bring Nazis into it.Sorry, which country was it again that was exterminating more asylum seekers in four years than Australia will ever see?

oh come on now, its nothing new, I drove an 80′s corona that had the infamous saturn engine from GM lurking under the bonnet, it had an air pump that at idle pushed extra fresh air in to the exhaust system to dilute the exhaust gases so that it managed to get under the maximum pollution levels within the exhaust gas. They all cheat the system in one way or another.

Someone independent decides to do some emission tests on a German brand on car that he thought would show how the European’s could make low emission diesel engine cars. These tests revealed a completely different result & brought out the startling fact that there was some very nasty things occurring, that had quite obviously been deliberately designed to defeat the legal emission requirements.Possibly the most ironical part of this whole thing is that the surname of the person making this discovery was a Mr German.

Every diesel VW needs to be taken off the road globally and then when the owners are forced to replace the vehicles the global economy will recover.The owners can then sue VW for their money back until there is nothing left of the company except a burnt out beetle shell.more likely it will be taken over by a company with access to 0% finance though and will become a par of GM or Ford.

Maybe VW should just buy Australia as its environmental policies are in support and its profits certainly better.

started to read this but quickly decided not to continue when I noted comments like ‘the kombi remains the favourite of hippies’. The author needs to do more proper research. Good kombis fetch astronomical prices in Australia and around the world – many LHD Australian models get snapped up quickly and exported to the UK which they are like gold. Most hippies would have sold off the kombi ages ago and bought a house with the proceeds ! A bit more research needed before going into print Dominic.

The marketers wanted some green washing and the engineers provided it. We fell for it. Who’d think that might happen :-) The German regulator should immediately make everyone redo their tests, under independent scrutiny. Where there is one, there will be another..

This scam is such a shame. Tarnishing a well respected brand and a well respected country. People, investors, will loose money.There’s some pretty corrupt unions around but for my money, for sheer size and scale of damage then look no further than the corporate sector, and governments too, for supersized ratbaggery.The free market…free to do what exactly?So the CEO resigns. Big deal, he won’t be paying much of a price in this sham. This happens time and time again. The more these corporate execs get away with it the more it happens. They can be as reckless as they want because really there are no ramifications for them.There are some good corporate citizens out there…they’re hard to find though and they’re getting rarer by the day.

Exactly. You have to look after yourself and be very careful with any purchase, share or vote.The days where you could trust a business handshake, government promise or advisers word are long gone.

Self regulation is a scam. The junk food industry in Australia has been caught out hundreds of times this year illegally promoting junk food during kids tv shows….all part of “self regulation” of that industry.This is what happens when you remove proper government regulations…or what the LNP call “red tape”. Wake up suckers!

When market share and commercial interests meet consumer’s concern for the environment, animal welfare and other matters we will see this type of manipulation and illegality to gain an unfair advantage. Self promotion attracts a very nice bonus for retailers and producers and so it is not surprising to see cheating going on.As a consumer I have always been somewhat sceptical of claims made for products which are charged at a premium over and above other goods of similar type. An example would be ‘free range’ eggs as opposed to ‘caged eggs’. Did anyone else note the recent fine of an egg producer for falsely claiming the ‘free range’ label when not entitled. Fined about $ 250,000 I recall.VW will pay a price for their dishonesty and no doubt heads will roll but it is unlikely that gullible consumers will be protected from their own naive view of the world of commerce.

The Company has been Jewish know-how for at least 8 years.That’s not bad … but it is not good for EU profits, either.

The best thing about VW is theit marketing department. That they can convince people to buy their over hyped, over priced cars. I actually don’t understand why there are so many on the road. Contrary to what the author says, their reliability is known to be questionable, their saftey is not any better than other manufacturers. They’re over priced & the cost of ownership is exorbitant.Growing up VWs were a joke, as you can tell, I still don’t think much of them. Yes, a great marketing department.

VW are hardly boring…..Bored wasn’t my state of mind when the computer in a VW Polo (wrongly) decided there was a loss of traction, and I could only get idle speed from the engine, regardless of pushing the go pedal quite hard.When this happens, on a freeway/motorway with a large truck close behind, it can, and has been, fatal.

All European cars these days are a ripoff.Too much computerisation, inbuilt obsolesence.The older cars were different look at the number of 1960′s VW bettles, Kombis, Volvo 144, 70′s 240′s etc are still ond the road with good body work. Frenchand italian cars are like their makers, flashy and unreliable.There were a few good british marques as well.Today if it’s not japanese , made in japan it’s rubbish. AVOID.

Combi drivers still give each other a wave when you see another combi. It happens all over the world all the time. You have to be very cool to drive an old bus and only other bus drivers know what it is. But I am a bus fanatic so I am biased. VW have screwed the pooch. Its sad that they doctored the numbers on their diesels. They should have released up updated bus design as a hybrid.

Quick fact check – VW does not name its cars after sports, bourgeoisie or otherwise. The cars are named after winds. Golf and Polo are both the names of seasonal prevailing winds.

Love it. Actually love the car and love the company.Like most things related to the environment it is yes from them and no from us. I really have no idea as to what is correct.I know environmentalists lie, but I was surprised to see VW tell one. Great company, great products.Nothing to see here, move on please.

The answer in one-fell-swoop is to simply change over to Bio-Diesel.. A non-toxic, environmentally friendly, carbon neutral and renewable diesel that makes around the same power as petro-diesel without all the harm to the environment or humans. Several Australian companies make and export Bio-Diesel right now but don’t get the support from the Federal Government they deserve…Being a true drop-in replacement for petro-diesel, you simply fill up with Bio-Diesel and drive away, no modifications, no conversion costs, nothing… if you need to use petro-diesel, you just fill up with that instead… This truly is an alternative fuel, we make it in Australia right now, but why isn’t it the cure to this bad news story…???

This aint nothing new people. Way back in 1998 several AMERICAN truck and diesel engine manufacturers were caught doing EXACTLY the same thing and were fined around 84m.( the world’s biggest car company was stupid enough to ignore the lessons of history, it’s a safe bet there are others!

It just goes to show that you cannot trust corporations! They have created huge ecological disasters world-wide including Australia corporations. Governments allow it to happen through bribes, blackmail and lower standards in foreign countries.

Europeans have always been liars. I don’t buy German products. They are crap but somehow many people think that they’re OK.

Good on the USA and President Obahma.We often forget or refuse to applaud the democratic USA for the benefits of their democracy shared worldwide. By enforcing their own EPA standards there and in the Gulf of Mexico dysfunctional competition is addressed. It is hard to imagine how many other car companies including in Australia were undermined by losing sales to the worlds largest car company with its claimed high tech engines that were actually polluting far worse than advertised.Now we are gaining an understanding of why USA car makers were so slow in converting from petrol to highly efficient diesel (but heavily polluting engines)they abided the rues!. And what aussie consumer wouldn’t join a class or start individual action on being mislead into purchasing such a high tech diesel .Unlike the gulf of Mexico where BPs failures to maintain led to equipment failure one would surmise in this multinational company failure it would be hard to claim a defeat code as accidental. There is one attempt above in all this commentary already trying. The resigned CEO admitted(spun) it “stuffed up” which by implication is accidental not deliberate. Dieselgate here we come.

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Post time: May-17-2019
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