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Discussion > VW Notice of Violation/In Use Compliance case

I got just a banner advert for Volvo at the top of the page. It boldly stated (my italics):

"Made in Sweden. Tuned for Britain".
I couldn't suppress a chuckle.

Sep 27, 2015 at 1:45 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

"Made in Sweden. Tuned for Britain".

Just like Abba.

Sep 27, 2015 at 9:12 AM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

Rob Burton, golf charlie;

I'm away from home at the moment, travelling in my Volvo V90 so I have its handbook with me to consult. I'll update the consumption figures (given here from my unreliable memory) when I'm back home early next week and can look at my records.

claimed mpg
The Volvo V90's handbook states (engine model B6304S2, automatic transmission) that its fuel consumption is 11.7 litres per 100 km, equivalent to 24.1 mpg (UK), according to

I have (somewhere) the handbooks for the 940's, so it should be possible to see what was the claimed mpg for them too.

actual mpg
I record the volume and mileage at every filling and so (back at home) I have accurate data on the actual consumption over several years for each car. From *memory*, here are the actual consumption figures (averaged over several years).

Volvo 940 2.3 litre turbocharged petrol automatic: 24 mpg
Volvo V90 2.9 litre non-turbocharged petrol automatic: 22-24 mpg
Volvo 940 2.4 litre turbocharged manual: 35 mpg

- The V90 has essentially the same bodywork as the 940's.
- All three cars were manufactured 1994 - 1998.
- I believe the Volvo automatic gearboxes are relatively efficient, locking to give 1:1 direct drive at cruising speeds°°, so manual/automatic will not make a big difference. The V90 handbook states around 6% better fuel economy for the various S/V90 models with manual transmission.

* The petrol V90's claimed consumption (stated by Volvo in its handbook) is close to what I get from my car.

* The diesel 940 gives about 50% better mpg than the similar petrol models.

°° Added correction. I noticed that top gear on the V90 automatic is 0.75:1 overdrive, not 1:1. But I think it is correct that the system locks, so no torque converter losses at cruising speeds.

Sep 27, 2015 at 9:36 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

More Volvonomics...

OK - back home so I can look at my actual consumption figures and the stated figures from the 940 handbook. So here are the actual fuel economy figures, rather than from memory.

Volvo 940 (2.3 litre petrol LPT = low pressure turbo) automatic
Stated mpg:
Urban: 20.4 mpg
56 mph: 36.1 mpg
75 mph: 29.7 mpg

Actual mpg:
Increasing uniformly from 25.1 mpg in 1999 to 26.2 mpg in 2004 (regression straight line fit to actual tankful-by-tankful mpg. 150 fillings)

Volvo 940 (2.4 litre diesel turbo) manual
Stated mpg:
Urban 30.1 mpg
56 mph: 47.1 mpg
75 mph 35.8 mpg

Actual mpg:
Increasing uniformly from 34.5 mpg in 2005 to 36.6 mpg in 2015 (regression straight line fit to actual tankful-by-tankful mpg. 308 fillings)

Volvo V90 (2.9 litre non-turbocharged)
Stated mpg: The Volvo V90's handbook states (engine model B6304S2, automatic transmission) that its fuel consumption is 11.7 litres per 100 km, equivalent to 24.1 mpg (UK). Driving conditions not mentioned

Actual mpg 23.9 mpg (average of tankful-by-tankful mpg 2010-2015. 16 fillings)

- Diesel 940 (manual) gives roughly 50% better fuel economy than petrol 940 and V90
- My actual fuel consumption figures give no reason to doubt the stated figures from Volvo.

In addition to better fuel economy from a diesel car, the price of diesel fuel in France is about 15% less than petrol, so the overall saving can be quite significant.

Sep 28, 2015 at 10:07 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

In addition to better fuel economy from a diesel car, the price of diesel fuel in France is about 15% less than petrol, so the overall saving can be quite significant.
Martin, should we tell them that diesel over here is currently as low as 80p a litre or would that be unkind?

Sep 28, 2015 at 11:39 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mike, it would be unkind. And they might retaliate by mentioning the price of good quality paint in Wyckes.

Sep 28, 2015 at 3:29 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

But I'll see your paint and raise you a bottle of excellent Bourgogne Grand Ordinaire (whatever that means) for £2.70.
The bottom line, of course, is 'some you win, some you lose' but something like the price of fuel for transportation feeds through into just about every aspect of daily life.
Now if young Gideon had the wit to extend the use of 'red' diesel to bona fide haulagae contractors as well as farmers and construction plant, think what sort of a boost that would give to the UK economy.

Sep 28, 2015 at 4:31 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

I have found some Euro data:

Amidst all the data is an interesting bar chart that says that road transport is the largest contributor to NOx, however it is unclear to me whether this lumps together cars and trucks/buses etc.

There is an intriguing discussion of the NOx trend, which suggests that the VW issue was showing up in the official figures:

"Road Transport: Since 1990, a considerable reduction in NOx and other ozone precursor pollutants has occurred in the road transport sector, despite the general increase in transport activity within this sector over the period. This sector alone has contributed to over 40% of the total NOx reduction. The emissions reductions have primarily been achieved as a result of fitting three way catalytic converters for petrol-fuelled cars (driven by the legislative Euro standards11).

Although the largest emissions reductions since 1990, in absolute terms, have occurred in the road transport sector, ambient urban concentrations of NO2 in EU-28 countries in recent years have not fallen by as much as reported emissions. Disparities between trends in NOx emissions and ambient NO2 concentrations (see CSI004) is due in part to the increased penetration of diesel vehicles, and the ‘real-world’ emissions performance of modern diesel vehicles not showing the improvements that were initially suggested by the test cycle emissions factors used in emission inventories – although this is now being addressed in national emissions inventories. It is also due to the increased proportion of NOx emitted directly as NO2 from the exhausts of more modern diesel vehicles, which use catalyst systems for controlling emissions, particularly of particulate matter."

Sep 28, 2015 at 6:11 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

re France and NOx, the same report shows:

"The following six Member States - Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and Luxembourg - exceeded their NOx emission ceilings in all years from 2010-2013. In 2013, Germany and France reported the highest exceedances of NOx limits with 218 kilotonnes and 180 kilotonnes, respectively. In percentage terms, Luxembourg (41%) and Austria (32%) exceeded their NOx emission ceilings by the greatest amount in 2013."

and Table ES 1: EU-27 Member State progress in meeting NECD emission ceiling, shows that the UK is one of the few countries to be on track against all defined pollutants.

It all seems to me that there is now a concerted effort to divert focus from CO2 towards NOx and I am not sure why. I am sure there is much gold in this data, for those who care to dig:

Sep 28, 2015 at 6:21 PM | Unregistered Commenterdiogenes

Yes, I'm waiting to see if my 2009/10 Volvo is affected by similar cheating. I'm not really fussed about the NOX as I'm not likely to enter London or Leeds but I'll be cross if my tax or fuel goes up. I haven't checked the manual for the official figures but it reads a pleasing 55.5 mpg at the moment.

Sep 28, 2015 at 11:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterTinyCO2

Martin A plus others

Your figures tend to support the turbo diesel injection. UK taxes did too, so taxi drivers drove diesels, and those wanting more oomph, added the turbo. UK taxes have made the fuel less advantageous.

In the early 80's, the accepted wisdom (???) was only buy a diesel car, if it is French. The French had always been more diesel friendly than the Brits, was that a tax thing? Fuel and/or price for a new car?

Now VAG have opened up their records a bit, will VAG diesel owners rush to have their chips reprogrammed to make their cars slower and less economical, and try and sue for the lost oomph, aswell as the lost NOx production? I would own a VAG DTI in original factory spec, but I wouldn't want a detuned one.

Sep 29, 2015 at 1:34 AM | Unregistered Commentergolf charlie

diogenes said: "It all seems to me that there is now a concerted effort to divert focus from CO2 towards NOx and I am not sure why. I am sure there is much gold in this data, for those who care to dig:"

Thanks for the links.

It just so happens that the Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicles Test Procedures have been drawn up by the UNECE World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations with the aim of ratification later this year.

I am sure though that it is entirely coincidental that regulators from many countries have been quietly working on addressing the problem of unrealistic vehicle testing only for a major story about unrealistic vehicle testing to blow up before they meet in November.

Sep 29, 2015 at 11:36 AM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

It seems it never rains but it pours:
Concerns Volkswagen's latest cars have extra suspect software
Scandal over Volkswagen emissions grows with car maker admitting 2016 cars have software which could help them improve pollution emissions

Oct 14, 2015 at 8:44 PM | Registered CommenterRobert Christopher

Mrs GS has just recalled that about the time this started VW were running an ad campaign:-

Volkswagen Golf: Great Pretender


Oct 14, 2015 at 10:40 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

2 November 2015
EPA, California Notify Volkswagen of Additional Clean Air Act Violations
WASHINGTON – Today, EPA is issuing a second notice of violation (NOV) of the Clean Air Act (CAA) to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. This NOV is also being issued to Porsche AG and Porsche Cars North America. These five companies are collectively referred to as Volkswagen (VW). The NOV alleges that VW developed and installed a defeat device in certain VW, Audi and Porsche light duty diesel vehicles equipped with 3.0 liter engines for model years (MY) 2014 through 2016 that increases emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) up to nine times EPA’s standard. The vehicles covered by today’s NOV are the diesel versions of: the 2014 VW Touareg, the 2015 Porsche Cayenne, and the 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L, and Q5.

November 2 Notice of Violation Details:

As alleged in the NOV, VW manufactured and installed software in the electronic control module of these vehicles that senses when the vehicle is being tested for compliance with EPA emissions standards. When the vehicle senses that it is undergoing a federal emissions test procedure, it operates in a low NOx “temperature conditioning” mode. Under that mode, the vehicle meets emission standards. At exactly one second after the completion of the initial phases of the standard test procedure, the vehicle immediately changes a number of operating parameters that increase NOx emissions and indicates in the software that it is transitioning to “normal mode,” where emissions of NOx increase up to nine times the EPA standard, depending on the vehicle and type of driving conditions. In other tests where the vehicle does not experience driving conditions similar to the start of the federal test procedure, the emissions are higher from the start, consistent with “normal mode.”


Nov 6, 2015 at 3:49 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

OK The issue rolls on
#1 on BH there are 2 discussions on VW diesel
#2 So I'll post on the The main blog under Joshes cartoon

Nov 9, 2015 at 9:52 AM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

No worries stewgreen. I put the discussion up before Josh cartooned the topic and I wanted to provided links to the actual chapter and verse of the VW US charges. Plus IMO discussions are more long lived than blog items as people come back to them as and when new material comes up. In the VW case it will be a while before the full story emerges.

As you note in your blog comment, the news coverage is pretty short on detail and long on hyperbole. One thing that is consistently missing from the coverage I've seen is that the Euro6 legislation was framed with provision for a move to a "Real Driving Emissons" metric. This reflects the technical reality that a lab test is only able to provide a calibration point for emissions. This is a calibration point which should carry over to scale real world tailpipe emissions. However the VW US approach was an illegal "defeat device" engineered in software to detect the lab test environment and to then run settings purely for that test. Hence the real driving emissions are divorced from the lab test. Despite differences between US and European standards and test protocols, defeat devices are explicitly illegal in both the US and European legislation.

I haven't heard the CtA item but I'll bet a pound to a penny they cannot provide any auditable justification for claimed deaths due to VW cars' NOx emissions.

October 2015:

June 2013:

Nov 9, 2015 at 1:23 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Link rot at the EPA - alternative source for original EPA NoV letter 18 September 2015 here:

Dec 11, 2015 at 3:49 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Volkswagen AG Agrees to Plead Guilty and Pay $4.3 Billion in Criminal and Civil Penalties; Six Volkswagen Executives and Employees are Indicted in Connection with Conspiracy to Cheat U.S. Emissions Tests

VW to Pay $2.8 Billion Criminal Fine in Guilty Plea and $1.5 Billion Settlement of Civil Environmental, Customs and Financial Violations; Monitor to Be Appointed to Oversee the Parent Company

Jan 19, 2017 at 8:38 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

How They Did It: An Analysis of Emission Defeat Devices in Modern Automobiles

Modern vehicles are required to comply with a range of environmental regulations limiting the level of emissions for various greenhouse gases, toxins and particulate matter. To ensure compliance, regulators test vehicles in controlled settings and empirically measure their emissions at the tailpipe. However, the black box nature of this testing and the standardization of its forms have created an opportunity for evasion. Using modem electronic engine controllers, manufacturers can programmatically infer when a car is undergoing an emission test and alter the behavior of the vehicle to comply with emission standards, while exceeding them during normal driving in favor of improved performance. While the use of such a defeat device by Volkswagen has brought the issue of emissions cheating to the public’s attention, there have been few details about the precise nature of the defeat device, how it came to be, and its effect on vehicle behavior. In this paper, we present our analysis of two families of software defeat devices for diesel engines: one used by the Volkswagen Group to pass emissions tests in the US and Europe, and a second that we have found in Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. To carry out this analysis, we developed new static analysis firmware forensics techniques necessary to automatically identify known defeat devices and confirm their function. We tested about 900 firmware images and were able to detect a potential defeat device in more than 400 firmware images spanning eight years. We describe the precise conditions used by the firmware to detect a test cycle and how it affects engine behavior. This work frames the technical challenges faced by regulators going forward and highlights the important research agenda in providing focused software assurance in the presence of adversarial manufacturers.

May 30, 2017 at 5:59 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet

Having read the paper from above:

It would appear the Bosch have a lot to answer for.

It looks like the ECU supplier, supplied an ECU that could have 2 distinct modes of operation that can not be selected by the driver.

Why would they do that?

Sport and economy mode yes, but 'secret' not so easy to explain....

May 31, 2017 at 2:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Richards

Steve - it is easy to explain: corporate criminal activity.

However, unlike VW:

'By entering into the settlement, Bosch neither acknowledges the facts as alleged by the plaintiffs nor does Bosch accept any liability,” said the company'

Watch the youtube video presentation for the Fiat solution (12m43s to 14m30s) if you are in any doubt as to Bosch's complicity.

Jun 1, 2017 at 1:34 PM | Unregistered Commenternot banned yet