Volkswagen admits emissions test cheating

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Assuming that the emissions cheating served a purpose of having engines that were better to drive (more powerful and tractable), while still “passing” tests, it seems like the owners of these cars are entitled to not just repairs, but to a car that legally matches what they thought they purchased. VW may not actually make such a car, so a full refund, plus some sort of punitive damages seem in order.

For the executives and engineers involved in the fraud, criminal charges perhaps seem appropriate. It is not the harm to the car owners as much as harm to public health. OK, the statistical analysis to prove harm through increased emissions will be extremely difficult, but if intent to harm is shown, convictions and punishment will hopefully ensure. Corporate thuggery.


VW does in fact make such a car- and a ECU update should be able to turn on the emissions equipment all the time (the way it’s supposed to be…) and be good to go. My impression is that it’s not the driving experience that was impacted, but rather there was a piece of emissions equipment that has both a relatively short service life and a high replacement cost, and that this bit of cheating was mostly designed to prolong the life of that component. So we may find VW on the hook for an awful lot of those parts.

I am not justifying what VW did. It was wrong, and they deserve to be punished for it.

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Thanks for the explanation. That’s perhaps a little less egregious. But yes, VW will be on the hook for an awful lot of those parts. Our (non-VW) diesel car uses a chemical injection system as part of the emissions control system. It has to be refilled periodically (at least a year between fills, and done as part of routine servicing though). I wonder if it is this aspect that VW were trying to circumvent.

Update: Just read the Jalopnik link further down these comments. This is exactly what they were trying. (Our particular car is mentioned in the article as having been tested and passed. So no new car for us.)

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Not that I know much about cars, but I thought Europe had stricter guidelines than the US. Does that mean German emissions are that much higher that they had to cheat on the US ones?

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The story is being updated a lot. Here’s a good post on Jalopnik from this morning -

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Just shooting from the hip… My guess would be that differences in the fuel-grade/contents might make US diesels a bit dirtier.

Looks like they had lower standards for diesel - specifically, it doesn’t look like they had strict limits on NOx

n London, one hundred air monitors positioned around the city reveal air quality that is as much as 3-4 times higher than WHO guidelines.

“Mistakenly, Europe has allowed diesel vehicles to emit vastly more of the harmful pollutants than petrol vehicles in the same category in its pursuit for somewhat illusory CO2 emission reductions from diesel,” said Birkett.

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How much you want to bet the same mechanism is at work hiding true emissions in petrol based VWs, Audis, Porsches, and who else do they own - Lambo?

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I am having trouble finding any information on what specific emissions are the problem, or what the ECU is doing, but the US has some stricter emissions requirements.

From the jalopnik article it appears this is the case:

To actually meet emissions standards for the performance VW advertised they needed a common additional system to mix what is called AdBlue (urea) to the fuel. But this requires quite a bit more plumbing and components and reduces interior space due to that.

So this additional system of components makes the car much more expensive and decreases the ‘niceness’ of the interior cabin.

This it becomes obvious why they did it. (Never knew about AdBlue till today, but the only diesels I’ve driven were VW’s :smile: )

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Bentley, Bugatti, Skoda and others.
That’s a possibility, though if you notice it’s only the 2.0TDI engine and not the new ones that use the urea system.
The smaller cars like the Golf, Jetta and A3 TDI are their volume sellers they used to promote the “clean diesel” in the US.
All manufacturers pull shenanigans, but this really takes the cake when you think about it. They set out to cheat this from day one.
I’ve been a VW fan for a long time and though we don’t own one now, between my wife and me we’ve had 5 VW’s and an Audi over 20 years. This is rather disappointing to say the least.

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Read the link I posted from Jalopnik above.

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I wouldn’t be so sure. The mismatch in emission standards was much bigger in Diesel cars.

The gap is pretty much gone in the current standards for new cars, btw.

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Yes, I understand the gap they were trying to leap here. I’m just saying that this represents a premeditated act to lie to the consumer about the performance of their product. Don’t be the least bit surprised if this is not unique. In fact I’d be shocked if such a willingness to conceal the truth was applied to this single situation. If they thought it was ok to do this, what else have they done?

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I believe this study by the ICCT was the starting point for the EPA case.

real-world NOx emissions were found to exceed the US-EPA Tier2-Bin5 (at full useful life) standard by a factor of 15 to 35 for the LNT-equipped vehicle, by a factor of 5 to 20 for one, and at or below the standard for the second urea-SCR fitted vehicle over five pre-defined routes

Obviously it is a bad sign, but I still think the temptation to get highly successful cars designed for different markets onto a (to them) relatively minor market on the cheap was unusually great.

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You know, I just don’t see how VW is gonna deal with this. Replumb half a million cars, with parts not designed for it? Software update that works performance and a subsequent class action lawsuit?

And now that every emissions tester in the world knows, in major cities where you have to pass to register your car, are half a million near-new cars fucked?

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CO2 and soot was/has been their main focus. But given the amount of diesel vehicles it makes sense in an urban environment. The same as the US having a much larger ratio of gas to diesel makes sense that we focused on NOx emissions.


Let me clarify something here this ONLY can affect a diesel engine. There is no such thing as def/urea injection for petrol. You have a standard catalytic converter but that’s really it. In a diesel fitted with a urea/SCR setup you typically keep the catalytic converter add in plumbing for the urea injection system, and add in the SCR unit (which is sort of like a more expensive catalytic converter). The up side to all this added hardware is a cleaner diesel, the downside is a lot more upfront expense and the regular addition of urea fluid (DEF Blue, or your favorite brand) to it’s container (not in the fuel).

That’s it. A Lambo isn’t going to suffer from this issue nor a 911 Turbo. I mean they might have problems, but it shouldn’t be from emissions.

-to give some credibility to what I’m saying, I build Final Tier 4 construction equipment fitted with these systems. Our smallest SCR unit is about the size of a beer keg and it’s per unit cost is anything but cheap. Not to mention the urea injection system is more complicated than a tank, pump, injector…-


I work in engineering. Every company I’ve ever worked for has done testing for certain standards. For example, where I work now we test our products to mil (military specs) for drops to concrete, number of tumbles, and sealing against water. Our products are also tested to UL standards for things like electrical discharge or electrical leakage.

It is COMPLETELY unacceptable for an engineering company of any sort to cheat on their tests. There are all kinds of applications where people need devices or machines to meet certain standards for their own reasons, and Volkswagon doesn’t get to choose that a test is unimportant to one of their customers.