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Discussion > VW Notice of Violation/In Use Compliance case

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Sep 22, 2015 at 2:00 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

I can't even say I'm mildly surprised by these revelations.

Put tests in place and people will game the system. There can't be many people who believe that they'll get anything like the mpg claimed by the manufacturer. Having caught VW in the act one assumes that all cars petrol or diesel from all manufacturers will now be tested and found wanting. The mpg data giving the hint as lower mpg = higher emissions.

The interesting thing for me is just what the difference between real life and testing actually is.

Sep 22, 2015 at 7:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

I disagree Sandy. In the same way that I'm disgusted by recent corruption and hypocrisy in politics and in banking, I'm disgusted by the clear, wilful and systemic deceit of VW. Have you read the documents above?

Sep 22, 2015 at 9:41 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

not banned yet
I wasn't condoning it. Just that it wasn't surprised for the following reasons:
1. When you set targets which cost money and impact sales and profits then people/companies/accountants will look for ways to pass the targets at least expense.
2. If that cannot be done within the rules then it shouldn't be a shock that software is written in such a way as to pass tests. Is it so much different for parents paying for professional coaching for children to pass exams?*
3 There had been evidence that mpg performance was nothing like real life. Excuses that tests were guidelines didn't really explain it. If mpg was lower, in some cases by a large margin, CO2 would be greater as would all other emissions
4 There is a small proportion of the population who wouldn't regard this as cheating, if they are in a position to exploit the loopholes then they will.
5 The fact that disappointing mpg has been a complaint by motorist since day 1 of testing only makes you wonder why this sort of testing hasn't been done before.

I did catch something on BBC news saying that some BMW models had been tested in the same way and found to be OK.

I want VW and anyone else who has cheated to suffer the consequences. I am confident that the motor industry will move on and any manufacturers that go to the wall will be replaced by others with "better" products, again shouldn't surprise anyone.

* I don't condone, in fact the reverse, Socialist MPs who send their children to private schools whilst complaining about Tories supporting Academies, but I'm not surprised by it.

Sep 23, 2015 at 7:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Much of this deception is the result of companies preferring to jump on green bandwagons rather than seem like the bad guy for questioning them. Governments end up with a false idea of what is achievable or not.

Sep 23, 2015 at 8:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

I'm running a nine-year-old Picasso 1.6 diesel from which I still regularly get around 50 mpg even though I now do mostly trips of 20 miles or less. It regularly passes its contrôle technique tests and, as far as I am aware, is considerably less polluting than any of the previous petrol-engined cars I have driven and certainly more economical in its fuel use.
Governments have been (to some extent rightly) obsessed for decades with cleaning up the atmosphere which is regularly polluted by motor transport but seem incapable of taking a balanced approach and are fair game for every enviro-nutter around.
The lead content in petrol was never the hazard the activists claimed and, as we know, the threat to the planet from CO2 emissions is nowhere as serious as the claims either. A properly maintained diesel engine should not present any health problems beyond those that might (I stress) be attributed to the internal combustion engine in general.
Like SandyS I am not about to condone anyone breaking the rules but neither do I feel inclined to condone the practice of creating rules which are almost impossible to abide by while still allowing people to a. make a living and b. go about their daily lives in peace and quiet without being regulated by the latest eco-fad.
A better ploy would have been for the international motor industry to explain the facts of life to governments, do their best to limit emissions to an acceptable level, and refuse to abide by rules imposed on the basis of figures probably (like so may others) plucked out of thin air because they sounded impressive.

Sep 23, 2015 at 9:31 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

From looking at cars for sale for some time I continually found that Audi / VW fuel and emission figures for cars over 5 years old were considerably worse than competitors. Now that is anecdotal as opposed to researched but it did lead me to conclude that Audi / VW (VAG Group which also include SEAT and Skoda) were probably not as advanced in terms of engine development and efficiency as their competitors.

I wonder if there was a decision, as a 'quick fix', to use engine management software to 'overcome' a deficiency in advanced engine design technology. Whatever the reasons behind it this seems to me to have been a deliberate fraud perpetrated not just on the people who buy VW / Audi but also on the regulators. Criminal prosecutions must be forthcoming now that senior VAG personnel have admitted to it.

So far the focus has been on Audi / VW and I wonder when it will turn to SEAT and Skoda which are built on VW platforms using VW / Audi engines etc ?

Sep 23, 2015 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger

Copied from Unthreaded, it points out VW have known about this for OVER A YEAR and wriggled and wriggled:

What is surprising is this piece of news, about VW's procrastination, hasn't been spread more widely:
Volkswagen scandal: how two campaigners exposed the world's biggest car company
“ America had seemingly cracked the dirty fuel conundrum, its cars effortlessly passing pollution checks that were far stricter than across the Atlantic.

So enlisting the help of the West Virginia University, Mock and German, decided to drive a number of models 1,300 miles from San Diego to Seattle to show that emission-busting technology need not impact performance.
We were astounded when we saw the numbers,” said German of the Berlin-based International Council on Clean Transportation. “It was shocking. We thought the vehicles would be clean.

“We need to ask the question, is this happening in other countries and is this happening at other manufacturers?” "

On the road the VW Jetta exceeded US nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 35 times. The Passat was up to 20 times higher.

The pair contacted the Californian Air Resource Board and the US Environment Protection Agency who launched an investigation in May 2014.

There followed months of fencing by Volkswagen who insisted on repeating the tests themselves and claimed that the figures were the result of minor discrepancy software error which could be fixed easily with a recall.

It wasn't until the EPA and the CARB threatened to withhold certification for its 2016 diesel models that Volkswagen admitted its wrongdoing in early September."

It may turn out that diesel might have had its day, at least for the smaller engines.

And to think that all 'right minded' environmentalists had their eyes on that evil gas, carbon dioxide. What a distraction!

Sep 23, 2015 at 1:16 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Copied from Unthreaded, it points out that the Public don't understand, or remember, that CO2 is not a pollutant and doesn't kill people, unless it stops them accessing oxygen, and that the nitrogen oxides are dangerous, even in small quantities and the evidence points to them to being detrimental to health and causing early deaths:

TinyCO2 on Sep 23, 2015 at 8:14 AM
"... this is the result of companies refusing to admit they can't meet the latest governmental fad target."
Yes, CO2 is innocent! Relaxing the CO2 regulations may help with the NOX regulations. I have seen in posts, and heard on the radio, people saying that not meeting these regulations hasn't killed anyone. I thought that the whole point, in addition to improving quality of life, was to save lives. Either the regulators are being creative or the public don't understand, or both!

"That means governments never have to review whether their policies are realistic."
You can add 'CO2 is a pollutant'. Isn't that an untruth? Doesn't it make 'bending the rules' a little more that much easier, with reality already being compromised, even though it is wrong as well as breaking the law?
Sep 23, 2015 at 9:16 AM | Registered CommenterRobert Christophe

Sep 23, 2015 at 1:24 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

It has long struck me as bizarre that whatever measure cars are tested and categorised by is only determined by tests on prepared samples before they are put on sale. Since there is no follow-up, e.g. at MOT time, manufacturers can and will optimise the tests as far as possible, by pumping up the tyres, disconnecting ancillaries, taking out the brake pads, etc.etc. and the authorities let them! For said authorities now to complain that they have been misled is a tad specious - they have allowed emission/consumption figures that are unattainable in real life to be used both for taxation and advertising purposes, not unlike the claims of wind turbine manufacturers expressed in ‘number of houses powered’.

Unbelievably, the only ‘emissions’ test a diesel has to pass for MOT is a smoke test, which is easily prepared for by a high-speed blast before the test to burn away the soot...

Sep 23, 2015 at 3:28 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

"CO2 is innocent"

Indeed. I suspect that many people, including MP's and BBC interviewers, still confuse CO2 with CO...

Sep 23, 2015 at 3:30 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

CO2 is innocent JamesP

and carbon capture, and storage, is imprisonment without trial, or testing, or evaluation, or evidence.

We must credit VW with bringing global warming to a halt. No climate science theory can explain it, so it must be the people's car. Quite a result for an idea born before WW2, as a consequence of the failures of the Third Reich.

Sep 23, 2015 at 4:34 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie


The great Green advantage of diesels has been their ability to burn biofuels, ie fuel grown as a crop. Getting people to accept noisy smelly diesels encouraged a huge amount of investment to produce equivalent performane to petrol, but better economy, and reduced noise and smell.

Electronic chips are now used to control engine performance, and produce the required optimums for performance, power, economy, and emissions as deemed required, by the consumers in any political environment.

Diesels show greatest benefits, when matched with turbochargers, and diesels require fuel to be injected anyway. As the GTi badge became fashionable in the 80's, so DTi (Diesel Turbo injection) is the way to go faster, more economically and with reduced emissions when required

DTi requires an electronic chip, and electronic chips are easy to modify, and control. If an engine was designed for modification, by manufacturers or users, it would be a DTi.

VW were the first to get caught, but I doubt any of their customers have complained, until now.

Google dti chip tuning. You do not have to have any knowledge of computing, or know one end of a con rod, from a con trick.

Sep 23, 2015 at 5:09 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

I have driven VW diesels for many years. When working, 40k miles a year was not unusual and the VW was an excellent work horse.

Legislation/taxation through higher fuel cost and the CO2 emissions-based VED road tax bands forced/directed people to diesel power. The magnitude of the problem with real emissions is directly related to legislation. The VW machinations are bang out of order and retribution upon those responsible will rightly follow. But who is responsible for 50% of new cars being diesel that are now being banned from our major cities? Who?

On the actual VW issue, when I retired and mileage plummeted I encountered a warning light never seen before "Diesel Particulate Filter " the technician explained I needed to drive the car up and down the bypass at least one a week. Doing extra miles just to keep a warning light out didn't sit well, though I did understand the reasoning. So when I changed to my latest Passat I inquired if this was still the case. I was ensured the issue had improved but still required some thought if constantly doing short journeys. After two years of mostly short trips I have not seen the dreaded light. However occasionally the car carries out some sort of filter/converter cleaning operation. This happens after the ignition is switched off, sounds like a cooling fan (noisy) and runs for quite a few minutes. I am told under no circumstances to interrupt (which can be done by restarting) the operation? Car is great, short and long.

Sep 23, 2015 at 5:09 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

we need to remember this issue is about NOx not CO2

also the group that tested VW's also tested at least one BMW (a x5) which passed. no NOx defeat software.

Sep 23, 2015 at 5:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

This issue is about NOx not CO2. True.

But does anyone believe the mileage figures are accurate? By which I mean "reflective of distance per fuel consumed in optimal on-road conditions".
I don't. And not just for VW.
That's a CO2 issue.

And worse. As I know they faked NOx emission tests and have grave doubts about the mileage tests, why should I believe their safety tests?
It's cheaper to skimp on safety cages too.

Sep 23, 2015 at 7:44 PM | Registered CommenterM Courtney

Barry Woods,

The International Council on Clean Transportation put out a statement that included a link to their May 2014 report. I can't claim to understand much of it but the X5 seems to have come out of it looking quite good.

Through various routes it was only rural hilly ones where the average NOx emissions were a problem for it. And this despite the X5 weighing more and being 4wd compared to the Jetta and Passat being 2wd.

The results for the Passat are the ones that intrigue me. It had a urea injection system just like the X5 did but produced far more NOx.

Sep 23, 2015 at 8:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

The potential for these transgressions has been around for a long time.
As noted above, the requirements of MOT testing for diesel emissions are rudimentary compared to the testing regime the manufacturers face for a new engine. Years ago sharp-eyed engineers noticed this and realised that it was a market opportunity.
The first products were "boosters" - black boxes which plugged in between the injection system and the engine management system. They derestricted the engines, allowing them to produce far more torque - and hence power. This gave better performance or, with restraint, better fuel economy. The engines would meet MOT requirements but would have failed the new-car tests.
I had a couple of these units on VWs. They were very effective.
More recently the same result has been achieved by adjusting the programme of the engine management system. I have had this done to a couple of cars, again with very positive results.
The manufacturers have always been aware of this loophole. Indeed one company I bought a "booster" from was founded by ex-VW engineers. Clearly, at some point, the temptation to use these techniques from new became too strong.
That said, afaik the situation here in the UK has not changed. The battery of requirements for testing new cars is not enforceable once the car has been on the road.

On the broader question of test performance versus reality, it has been my experience that diesels get pretty close to the claimed fuel consumptions and anecdotal info from friends etc says much the same. Certainly my own car does - and I have verified the dash computer by brim-to-brim measurements.
Conversely petrol cars usually fall well short, especially some of the latest hybrids. I read a test of a Mitsubishi which had a claimed consumption of around 140 mpg. The testers got around 50 mpg. Then they did the best they could with plug-in charging, economy driving etc and managed to get close to 80 mpg - still almost twice the manufacturer's claim.

Sep 23, 2015 at 10:48 PM | Registered Commentermikeh

Greensand, the "drive it on the bypass" advice, is good advice, if a little defeating in terms of time and economy. It is also known as an Italian tune-up, ie rev the hell out of the engine to get it hot, to burn out any accumulated deposits.

I first drove farm tractors before I had a driving licence 35ish years ago. Stamping on the throttle would produce a cloud of black exhaust smoke (mainly unburnt diesel) until the engine was revving fast enough to burn the amount of diesel being injected.

Travelling in and out of London on the M4, a regular sight in the 80's would be London taxis driving as fast as possible to/from Heathrow, belching clouds of black smoke. They may have been delivering late fares, but more likely, was the Italian tune-up, for vehicles not used to revving high. Modern electronics were supposed to have ended this problem, but the advice to you for an Italian tune up, suggests otherwise.

I acknowledge the comments above about NOx not CO/CO2.

Greens preferred diesel over petrol for economy, AND because they could burn old chip oil etc which is the future apparently

Diesels (especially turbo's) can be exploited by electrickery, to the advantage of whoever is paying. It is that simple. No spanners required.

I would happily buy a turbo diesel VW, to replace my petrol one. VW have conned the system. Their reputation is damaged. Other manufacturers have lost competitiveness. Customer consciences have been damaged.

Lawyers will now be looking for proof of damage caused by excess NOx, a subject I have no knowledge of. But US lawyers are all experts now.... Do the sums, and think of the legal fees ....

I am not an engine designer, or connected with the motor trade, however through yotting, I have some experience of diesel engines (all without electronics, the beauty of MARINE diesel engines, based on engines designed in the 1970's)

Sep 23, 2015 at 11:57 PM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

M Courtney 7:44 crash safety tests are carried out independently of the manufacturers, and consist of smashing concrete etc into cars or vice versa. This is used to establish crash safety for the occupants. The ease of repairing a car is then a major factor in determining the Insurance Group rating.

The notable exception was the Mercedes A Class in 1997?, which passed all the tests, but a Swedish? Motoring magazine had its own "elk test" to establish what happened when you swerved at speed. The Mercedes did an impression of the Reliant Robin. Mercedes withdrew the car, and hastily re-engineered the front suspension.

Sep 24, 2015 at 1:09 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

golf charlie
I reckon you'll be able to pick up a heavily discounted VW diesel fairly soon.

Yes the NOx question is interesting, I'm not certain whether we're talking N2O or NO2 or both, or even some of the other more complex variants. When I was at school, the reaction N2-> 2N ; 2N+ 202-> 2NO2 caused by lightening was good because it fixed nitrogen which this was used by plants as part of the growth process.

Sep 24, 2015 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS


Elk'n'safety strikes again!


"used by plants as part of the growth process"

A bit like CO2, then...

Sep 24, 2015 at 1:04 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

SandyS, in the context of emissions removed by the addition of urea, it won't be N2O as this is chemically rather unreactive (it also being used as an anaesthetic). The other oxides are more reactive and toxic.

Sep 24, 2015 at 1:07 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

What ? Someone cheated to make their green credentials seem bigger than they acually were.
... surely not

- The people who caught out VW bmight want to investigate a who lot of Green Industry claims.

- If people are to be compensated for believing green claims, then a lot more organisations besides VW will be paying out.

Sep 24, 2015 at 1:38 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

So if we have a cold winter and they need to bring on-line those emergency diesel generators to avoid power cuts when the wind doesn't blow, who is going to be measuring the diesel emissions?

Sep 24, 2015 at 2:24 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart