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German Exporters: Keep the Euro

SS Pro­tege Lud­wig Ehrhard: Father of “Ger­man Eco­nom­ic Mir­a­cle”

COMMENT: Much con­ster­na­tion has been expressed by Ger­mans frus­trat­ed with hav­ing to bail out weak­er EMU economies. What has received less atten­tion is the fact that Euro was pre­dictably weak. That weak­ness has kept the price of   Ger­man exports low, boost­ing their econ­o­my to a lev­el unmatched since the ear­ly 1990’s.

This fact alone, makes it unlike­ly that Ger­many will be leav­ing the cur­ren­cy union any­time soon.

“Why Ger­many and its Automak­ers Won’t Let the Euro Col­lapse” by Neil Win­ton; Detroit News; 11/27/2010.

EXCERPT: . . . . The rea­son: Ger­man indus­try in gen­er­al and its auto­mo­tive busi­ness in par­tic­u­lar ben­e­fits mas­sive­ly from being a mem­ber of the E.U. and using the euro to price its exports. If the euro col­lapsed and Ger­many had to revert to its old cur­ren­cy, the mark, its auto indus­try would take a price hit of per­haps 25 per­cent. If Ger­many was forced to revert to the mark, car man­u­fac­tur­ers would quick­ly move pro­duc­tion out of high-wage Ger­many, caus­ing huge unem­ploy­ment. To a degree this is hap­pen­ing already, but it would become a dis­rup­tive and polit­i­cal­ly unac­cept­able stam­pede if the mark was called off the bench and the euro dumped.

“Whether Ger­many is will­ing to pay more for more bailouts ulti­mate­ly depends on whether Ger­man politi­cians can sell this to the Ger­man peo­ple,” said pro­fes­sor David Bai­ley of the Coven­try Uni­ver­si­ty Busi­ness School.

“There is a good argu­ment (for Ger­mans) for sup­port­ing periph­er­al Euro­zone coun­tries because Ger­many — via the euro — has had a huge boost to its com­pet­i­tive­ness,” Bai­ley said.

Even before the euro, when Ger­many’s cur­ren­cy was the mark, the coun­try racked up huge trade sur­plus­es. After it joined the euro on Jan. 1, 1999, it was pre­sent­ed with an effec­tive deval­u­a­tion, although this has fluc­tu­at­ed over the years as it strength­ened and weak­ened against the dol­lar.

“With the euro it has run huge trade sur­plus­es but its cur­ren­cy was fixed via its euro zone part­ners, giv­ing it at least, say, a 20 to 25 per­cent com­pet­i­tive­ness boost. No won­der Ger­man man­u­fac­tur­ing — and its car mak­ing indus­try — is doing well and why Ger­many would want to stay part of the euro zone,” Bai­ley said.

While many major glob­al economies are strug­gling to move out of reces­sion, Ger­many has been boom­ing. Ger­many’s gross domes­tic prod­uct in the third quar­ter rose a net 0.7 per­cent and by 3.9 per­cent com­pared with the same peri­od of 2009.

Econ­o­mists called this an export-led rebound, and said things would get even bet­ter for Ger­many because the ner­vous­ness sur­round­ing the euro was weak­en­ing the cur­ren­cy and boost­ing its sales out­side Europe. . . .

COMMENT: Indeed, the Euro­pean Mon­e­tary Union is the real­iza­tion of a plan for Ger­man world dom­i­na­tion devel­oped in the mid 19th cen­tu­ry by Friedrich List. Its imple­men­ta­tion fol­lowed upon the Ger­man eco­nom­ic con­quest of Europe dur­ing World War II; its real­iza­tion con­cise­ly  fore­cast by jour­nal­ist Dorothy Thomp­son in 1940.

Dorothy Thompson’s analy­sis of Germany’s plans for world dom­i­nance entails imple­men­ta­tion by the cre­ation of a cen­tral­ized Euro­pean eco­nom­ic union. Ms. Thomp­son was writ­ing in The New York Her­ald Tri­bune on May 31, 1940!

“The Ger­mans have a clear plan of what they intend to do in case of vic­to­ry. I believe that I know the essen­tial details of that plan. I have heard it from a suf­fi­cient num­ber of impor­tant Ger­mans to cred­it its authen­tic­i­ty . . . Germany’s plan is to make a cus­toms union of Europe, with com­plete finan­cial and eco­nom­ic con­trol cen­tered in Berlin. This will cre­ate at once the largest free trade area and the largest planned econ­o­my in the world. In West­ern Europe alone . . . there will be an eco­nom­ic uni­ty of 400 mil­lion per­sons . . . To these will be added the resources of the British, French, Dutch and Bel­gian empires. These will be pooled in the name of Europa Ger­man­i­ca . . .”

“The Ger­mans count upon polit­i­cal pow­er fol­low­ing eco­nom­ic pow­er, and not vice ver­sa. Ter­ri­to­r­i­al changes do not con­cern them, because there will be no ‘France’ or ‘Eng­land,’ except as lan­guage groups. Lit­tle imme­di­ate con­cern is felt regard­ing polit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tions . . . . No nation will have the con­trol of its own finan­cial or eco­nom­ic sys­tem or of its cus­toms. The Naz­i­fi­ca­tion of all coun­tries will be accom­plished by eco­nom­ic pres­sure. In all coun­tries, con­tacts have been estab­lished long ago with sym­pa­thet­ic busi­ness­men and indus­tri­al­ists . . . . As far as the Unit­ed States is con­cerned, the plan­ners of the World Ger­man­i­ca laugh off the idea of any armed inva­sion. They say that it will be com­plete­ly unnec­es­sary to take mil­i­tary action against the Unit­ed States to force it to play ball with this sys­tem. . . . Here, as in every oth­er coun­try, they have estab­lished rela­tions with numer­ous indus­tries and com­mer­cial orga­ni­za­tions, to whom they will offer advan­tages in co-oper­a­tion with Ger­many. . . .”

Ger­many Plots with the Krem­lin by T.H. Tetens; Hen­ry Schu­man [HC]; 1953; p. 92.

COMMENT: Writ­ing in the 19th cen­tu­ry, Friedrich List posit­ed the idea of Ger­man-dom­i­nat­ed cen­tral Euro­pean eco­nom­ic union as a vehi­cle for estab­lish­ing Ger­man eco­nom­ic and impe­r­i­al supe­ri­or­i­ty to Britain, Ger­many’s top geopo­lit­i­cal rival. List’s for­mu­la­tions are the basis for the Ger­man-dom­i­nat­ed Euro­pean Mon­e­tary Union. List under­stood that eco­nom­ic con­trol led auto­mat­i­cal­ly to polit­i­cal con­trol. That aware­ness is cen­tral to an under­stand­ing of the oper­a­tions of the Bor­mann Cap­i­tal Net­work.

“Many of the major ele­ments of eco­nom­ic impe­ri­al­ism were enun­ci­at­ed in the 1840’s by the ubiq­ui­tous Friedrich List. List argued that over­seas colonies were need­ed to sup­ple­ment his favorite scheme for eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment: a cen­tral Euro­pean eco­nom­ic union. He fore­saw an eco­nom­ic orga­ni­za­tion with an indus­tri­al­ized Ger­many as its cen­ter and a periph­ery of oth­er cen­tral and east­ern Euro­pean states that would sup­ply food and raw mate­ri­als for Ger­man indus­try and would pur­chase Ger­man indus­tri­al prod­ucts. A semi­au­tar­kic struc­ture would thus be cre­at­ed; it would have the advan­tage of per­mit­ting con­trol, or even exclu­sion, of British com­pe­ti­tion, thus allow­ing cen­tral Europe to indus­tri­al­ize suc­cess­ful­ly in an order­ly, planned man­ner.”

(The Ide­o­log­i­cal Ori­gins of Nazi Impe­ri­al­ism; by Woodruff D. Smith; Copy­right 1986 [SC]; Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press; ISBN 0–19-504741–9 (PBK); p. 30.)

Discussion

22 comments for “German Exporters: Keep the Euro”

  1. sor­ry to dis­agree. Yes cun­ning Ger­many kept her rates and wages low to increase her exports; but ensured all oth­er EU rates were at high­est lev­el, hence each falling into near bank­rupt­cy seek­ing res­cue from unfair­ly pros­per­ous Ger­many. I fore­cast in 2002, repeat­ed in my blue book Ger­many’s Four Reichs Page 56 that ger­many planned breakup of Euro leav­ing her in com­plete mas­tery. Then invite all into DMark under total Ger­man dom­i­na­tion in Super­state

    Posted by harry beckhough | January 3, 2011, 7:54 am
  2. Exact­ly. You’ve got it all cov­ered. The Euro­pean nations have fall­en for this trick, will­ing­ly or unwill­ing­ly, unfor­tu­nate­ly for them, and now they can’t get out of it. It is a trap. The union of all west­ern Euro­pean states was planned long in advance, as expressed here by Friedrich List. The bail out of weak­er mem­ber states economies is cer­tain­ly a bur­den on the Ger­man peo­ple but it is, after all, an oppor­tu­ni­ty for a take over: the one who pays calls the shots, like always. I love Europe and I am sor­ry that it has arrived to this mess.

    Posted by Claude | January 3, 2011, 10:19 am
  3. While it’s nev­er a good idea to inhale car exhaust, if you’ve pur­chase a new diesel-pow­ered Volk­swa­gen car in the last six years you real­ly don’t want to start huff­ing that tailpipe:

    USA Today
    EPA accus­es Volk­swa­gen, Audi of evad­ing emis­sion laws
    The Ger­man automak­er adopt­ed a “defeat device” to trick reg­u­la­tors, the EPA said.

    Nathan Bomey, 1:14 p.m. EDT Sep­tem­ber 18, 2015

    The Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency on Fri­day accused Volk­swa­gen of installing soft­ware on 482,000 diesel cars in the U.S. to evade fed­er­al emis­sion reg­u­la­tions, poten­tial­ly expos­ing peo­ple to harm­ful pol­lu­tants.

    The Ger­man automak­er adopt­ed what the EPA called a “defeat device” to trick U.S. reg­u­la­tors into believ­ing that its cars met Clean Air Act stan­dards, the fed­er­al agency said in a state­ment.

    The agency said the diesel cars that vio­lat­ed fed­er­al stan­dard were the 2009–14 Volk­swa­gen Jet­ta, Bee­tle and Golf, the 2014–15 Volk­swa­gen Pas­sat, and the 2009–15 Audi A3.

    Those cars emit­ted nitro­gen oxides, which can exas­per­ate res­pi­ra­to­ry con­di­tions such as asth­ma, at up to 40 times the stan­dard lev­el, the EPA said.

    Volk­swa­gen admit­ted to inves­ti­ga­tors that it had installed the defeat device, the EPA said.

    The automak­er said in a state­ment that it’s coop­er­at­ing with inves­ti­ga­tors but won’t com­ment fur­ther.

    Volk­swa­gen, whose brands include the lux­u­ry Audi line­up, may face fines or oth­er penal­ties, the EPA said. The max­i­mum Clean Air Act vio­la­tion is $37,500 per vehi­cle, mean­ing Volk­swa­gen’s fine could tech­ni­cal­ly be as high as $18 bil­lion.

    What’s more, the scan­dal could expose Volk­swa­gen to law­suits and penal­ties for mar­ket­ing its cars under the “Clean Diesel” moniker. An hour after the EPA announce­ment, the automak­er’s web­site still con­tained the “Clean Diesel” brand­ing.

    About 20% of Volk­swa­gen’s vehi­cle sales are diesel engines, AutoPa­cif­ic ana­lyst Dave Sul­li­van said.

    “It total­ly goes against all of the mar­ket­ing they have had of a clean diesel,” Sul­li­van said in an inter­view. “That’s one of the biggest sell­ing points for Volk­swa­gen.”

    The cars are still safe to dri­ve, the EPA said, and own­ers do not need to take imme­di­ate action. But agency offi­cials said they will require Volk­swa­gen to fix the cars for free, indi­cat­ing that a recall is like­ly.

    “We intend to hold Volk­swa­gen respon­si­ble,” Cyn­thia Giles, assis­tant admin­is­tra­tor for EPA’s Office of Enforce­ment and Com­pli­ance Assur­ance, told reporters in a con­fer­ence call.

    ...

    EPA reg­u­la­tors said that Volk­swa­gen adopt­ed a “sophis­ti­cat­ed” algo­rithm that turned on vehi­cles’ full emis­sions con­trols when it detect­ed they were being test­ed for emis­sions per­for­mance.

    EPA and Cal­i­for­nia reg­u­la­tors dis­cov­ered the device after researchers at West Vir­ginia Uni­ver­si­ty and the Inter­na­tion­al Coun­cil on Clean Trans­porta­tion “raised ques­tions about emis­sions lev­els” in Volk­swa­gen cars, the fed­er­al agency said.

    Giles declined to say whether the EPA has made a crim­i­nal refer­ral because of its find­ings. She said the inves­ti­ga­tion is ongo­ing and declined to say whether top exec­u­tives knew about the device when it was installed.

    “I’m sur­prised that it took this long for some­body to find this out, but it was actu­al­ly a very clever piece of soft­ware writ­ten to keep it hid­den,” AutoPaci­fic’s Dave Sul­li­van said.

    “It total­ly goes against all of the mar­ket­ing they have had of a clean diesel...That’s one of the biggest sell­ing points for Volk­swa­gen.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 18, 2015, 2:31 pm
  4. It turns out you don’t have to actu­al­ly inhale diesel exhaust to give your­self a major headache. Get­ting caught sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly hid­ing ele­vat­ed lev­els of exhaust pol­lu­tion for years will also do the trick:

    MSNBC
    VW’s stock plunges after diesel recall, with more woes to come

    By Paul A. Eisen­stein
    09/21/15 02:29 PM

    Accused of cheat­ing on emis­sions stan­dards, Volk­swa­gen saw a mas­sive sell-off of its stock Mon­day, wip­ing out $16.9 bil­lion of mar­ket val­ue on Mon­day.

    VW and its upscale Audi brand have been ordered to recall near­ly 500,000 diesel cars sold in the U.S. — but that is like­ly to be only the start of the prob­lems fac­ing the Ger­man mak­er.

    With­in hours of the announce­ment on Fri­day from the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, sev­er­al high-pro­file law firms had already weighed in, threat­en­ing poten­tial­ly cost­ly class action law­suits. That’s on top of mul­ti-bil­lion dol­lar fines Volk­swa­gen could be sub­ject to. The mak­er may also be tar­get­ed by the U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment for cre­at­ing a so-called “defeat device” to get around strict diesel emis­sions stan­dards.

    “I per­son­al­ly am deeply sor­ry that we have bro­ken the trust of our cus­tomers and the pub­lic,” Volk­swa­gen CEO Mar­tin Win­terko­rn said in a state­ment issued over the week­end. “We at Volk­swa­gen will do every­thing that must be done in order to re-estab­lish the trust,” he said, adding that the mak­er will work open­ly with author­i­ties inves­ti­gat­ing the alleged scam.

    The com­pa­ny also said it would stop sales of the 4‑cylinder diesel engines involved in the recall, includ­ing the VW Jet­ta, Bee­tle and Golf mod­els sold dur­ing the 2009 to 2014 mod­el-years, the Audi A3 sold dur­ing the same peri­od, and the 2014–15 VW Pas­sat.

    VW has been offer­ing con­sumers tech­nol­o­gy it claimed was clean, sporty and fuel-effi­cient. Diesel-equipped mod­els like the Jet­ta and Golf have account­ed for about 25% of the maker’s U.S. sales in recent years, and VW has been the leader in the reviv­ing Amer­i­can diesel mar­ket.

    But accord­ing to the EPA, a num­ber of Volk­swa­gen and Audi vehi­cles equipped with 4‑cylinder diesel engines were pro­grammed to detect when they were under­go­ing emis­sions tests. Oth­er­wise, the soft­ware deac­ti­vat­ed some of the onboard pol­lu­tion con­trol equip­ment. The process appar­ent­ly helped improve per­for­mance but result­ed in the vehi­cles emit­ting up to 40 times the allow­able lev­els of addi­tion­al par­tic­u­lates and smog-caus­ing oxides of nitro­gen.

    The agency has ordered VW to fix the cars at its own expense but said car own­ers do not need to take any imme­di­ate action. The EPA insist­ed that the vio­la­tions do not pose any safe­ty haz­ard and said the cars remain legal to dri­ve and sell while Volk­swa­gen comes up with a plan to recall and repair them. How­ev­er, it said the cars posed a threat to pub­lic health.

    The influ­en­tial mag­a­zine Con­sumer Reports almost imme­di­ate­ly sus­pend­ed its “rec­om­mend­ed” rat­ing from the Jet­ta and Pas­sat diesels until it can get a recall repair and re-test the cars.

    Nei­ther VW nor EPA offi­cials have yet said what it will take to fix the prob­lem, though it is like­ly to start with changes to the onboard engine con­trol soft­ware. The cost is expect­ed to run into the mil­lions of dol­lars. But that could be the least of VW’s finan­cial wor­ries.

    For one thing, the EPA could fine VW as much as $37,500 for each of the 482,000 recalled vehi­cles that vio­lat­ed clean air rules. That would work out to more than $18 bil­lion. And the Cal­i­for­nia Air Resources Board, or CARB, could levy its own penal­ties. Under U.S. law, Cal­i­for­nia sets its own, tougher auto­mo­tive emis­sions stan­dards.

    Volk­swa­gen is like­ly to also find itself in the crosshairs of the U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment, which has been tak­ing a more aggres­sive stance on white col­lar crime, and has come down hard on the auto indus­try in recent years. It has levied major fines and sent a num­ber of Japan­ese exec­u­tives to prison for price fix­ing in the auto parts indus­try. In March 2014 it levied a $1.2 bil­lion fine against Toy­ota for mis­han­dling safe­ty prob­lems and last week accept­ed a $900 mil­lion set­tle­ment involv­ing Gen­er­al Motors’ dead­ly igni­tion switch issue.

    Sig­nif­i­cant­ly, the EPA last Fri­day described the VW recall as an “open­ing sal­vo” into a broad­er inves­ti­ga­tion, and not­ed it is coop­er­at­ing with both the Jus­tice Dept. and the State of Cal­i­for­nia.

    What is unclear is whether that implies that oth­er man­u­fac­tur­ers may also have devel­oped ways to cheat on emis­sions tests. Diesels had all but van­ished from the U.S. mar­ket start­ing in the ear­ly 1990s, regain­ing momen­tum only recent­ly, and pri­mar­i­ly through Euro­pean brands such as Volk­swa­gen, Audi and Daim­ler AG’s Mer­cedes-Benz.

    “We heard of the EPA’s accu­sa­tions against VW from the press. The issue described by the press does not apply to Mer­cedes-Benz Cars,” Daim­ler said in an state­ment e‑mailed to reports. It not­ed it was not aware of any inves­ti­ga­tion involv­ing its own prod­ucts.

    Mean­while, the impact of the cheat­ing scan­dal could stretch beyond U.S. bor­ders. Michael Schroeren, a spokesman for Germany’s envi­ron­men­tal min­istry, told reporters in Berlin that author­i­ties there intend to “check whether com­pa­ra­ble manip­u­la­tion has hap­pened in Ger­many or Europe.”

    While Volk­swa­gen faces poten­tial­ly seri­ous prob­lems with fed­er­al reg­u­la­tors and pros­e­cu­tors, there could be a cost­ly civ­il side to the cheat­ing scan­dal. Sev­er­al law firms that spe­cial­ize in large class action cas­es have already announced plans to look into the prob­lem. That includes Seat­tle-based Hagens Berman Sobol Shapiro LLP, which took on both Toy­ota and GM over their safe­ty prob­lems.

    “The tin­ker­ing that Volk­swa­gen will have to do by law to fix these vehi­cles will almost cer­tain­ly degrade the per­for­mance to less than what Volk­swa­gen claimed when it orig­i­nal­ly sold these cars,” said Steve Berman, a man­ag­ing part­ner at Hagens Berman. He said that the use of a defeat device “blind­sided” con­sumers who “went to great lengths” who want­ed vehi­cles that were both clean and sporty.

    ...

    The EPA insist­ed that the vio­la­tions do not pose any safe­ty haz­ard and said the cars remain legal to dri­ve and sell while Volk­swa­gen comes up with a plan to recall and repair them. How­ev­er, it said the cars posed a threat to pub­lic health.
    That’s quite a nuanced warn­ing from the EPA. At least the affect­ed cars aren’t extra like­ly to run you over, but you prob­a­bly don’t want to be caught behind one while bik­ing to work.

    And note the oth­er warn­ing from the EPA, the direct­ed at the auto indus­try itself: This may not be lim­it­ed to Volkswagen....or US reg­u­la­tors:

    ...
    Sig­nif­i­cant­ly, the EPA last Fri­day described the VW recall as an “open­ing sal­vo” into a broad­er inves­ti­ga­tion, and not­ed it is coop­er­at­ing with both the Jus­tice Dept. and the State of Cal­i­for­nia.

    What is unclear is whether that implies that oth­er man­u­fac­tur­ers may also have devel­oped ways to cheat on emis­sions tests. Diesels had all but van­ished from the U.S. mar­ket start­ing in the ear­ly 1990s, regain­ing momen­tum only recent­ly, and pri­mar­i­ly through Euro­pean brands such as Volk­swa­gen, Audi and Daim­ler AG’s Mer­cedes-Benz.

    “We heard of the EPA’s accu­sa­tions against VW from the press. The issue described by the press does not apply to Mer­cedes-Benz Cars,” Daim­ler said in an state­ment e‑mailed to reports. It not­ed it was not aware of any inves­ti­ga­tion involv­ing its own prod­ucts.

    Mean­while, the impact of the cheat­ing scan­dal could stretch beyond U.S. bor­ders. Michael Schroeren, a spokesman for Germany’s envi­ron­men­tal min­istry, told reporters in Berlin that author­i­ties there intend to “check whether com­pa­ra­ble manip­u­la­tion has hap­pened in Ger­many or Europe.”
    ...

    It’s also worth point­ing out that VW over­took Toy­ota as the largest auto mak­er a few months ago, but one area where VW has been strug­gling in recent years, despite the deval­u­a­tion of the euro, is the US automar­ket and VW’s per­for­mance has been so dis­ap­point­ing in the US that the com­pa­ny’s CEO, Mar­tin Win­terko­rn, almost lost his job back in April. Yes, VW was­n’t doing that great in the US any­ways, but it also may have just implod­ed its US brand’s rep­u­ta­tion.

    So it’s look­ing like it’s going to be dam­age-con­trol mode for VW for the fore­see­able future as the com­pa­ny tries to explain why this was all just an inno­cent mis­take. Good luck!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 21, 2015, 2:39 pm
  5. Here’s an indi­ca­tion of how screwed Volk­swa­gen might be fol­low­ing its diesel clean diesel scam scan­dal: The cur­rent mega-fine being bandied about is up to $18 bil­lion, and that’s based on a max $37,500 fine for each of the 482,000 recalled cars. But as VW warns, the num­ber of cars using the same type of engine glob­al­ly, includ­ing the ‘spe­cial’ soft­ware, is clos­er to 11 mil­lion and most of the them are prob­a­bly in Europe:

    The New York Times
    Volk­swa­gen Says 11 Mil­lion Cars World­wide Are Affect­ed in Diesel Decep­tion

    By JACK EWING
    SEPT. 22, 2015

    FRANKFURT — A scan­dal that has under­mined Volk­swa­gen in the Unit­ed States spread to its core mar­ket of Europe on Tues­day, after the com­pa­ny said that 11 mil­lion of its diesel cars world­wide were equipped with soft­ware that was used to cheat on emis­sions tests.

    Volk­swa­gen did not pro­vide infor­ma­tion on where the affect­ed cars are, but the over­whelm­ing major­i­ty are prob­a­bly in Europe, where the com­pa­ny dom­i­nates the mar­ket and accounts for more than one of every four cars sold.

    The Ger­man automak­er said it was set­ting aside the equiv­a­lent of half a year’s prof­its — 6.5 bil­lion euros, or about $7.3 bil­lion — to cov­er the cost of fix­ing the cars to com­ply with pol­lu­tion stan­dards and to cov­er oth­er expens­es, which are like­ly to include fines as well as respons­es to civ­il law­suits from angry cus­tomers.

    The carmaker’s state­ment, on Tues­day morn­ing here, was its first admis­sion that diesel cars out­side the Unit­ed States may con­tain the soft­ware that led the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency to accuse the com­pa­ny of delib­er­ate­ly evad­ing pol­lu­tion tests. Pre­vi­ous­ly, Volk­swa­gen acknowl­edged only that the prob­lem affect­ed near­ly 500,000 vehi­cles in the Unit­ed States.

    ...

    The tam­pered vehi­cles use what is known as Type EA 189 engines, which are 2‑liter engines. The com­pa­ny said on Tues­day that “a notice­able devi­a­tion between bench-test results and actu­al road use was estab­lished” for the engines.

    Volk­swa­gen said it would also make “oth­er efforts to win back the trust of our cus­tomers.”

    The num­ber of cars involved sug­gests that the scale of the dam­age to Volkswagen’s rep­u­ta­tion and its finan­cial stand­ing may be even greater than thought.

    Volk­swa­gen shares fell by near­ly 18 per­cent through late-after­noon trad­ing in Frank­furt on Tues­day, after falling by 16 per­cent on Mon­day.

    The diesel cars were pro­grammed to sense when emis­sions were being test­ed and to turn on equip­ment that reduced emis­sions, accord­ing to Unit­ed States offi­cials. At oth­er times, the cars had bet­ter fuel econ­o­my and per­for­mance, but pro­duced as much as 40 times the allowed amount of nitro­gen oxide, a pol­lu­tant that can con­tribute to res­pi­ra­to­ry prob­lems includ­ing asth­ma, bron­chi­tis and emphy­se­ma.

    “Volk­swa­gen is work­ing intense­ly to elim­i­nate these devi­a­tions through tech­ni­cal mea­sures,” the com­pa­ny said.

    It is not clear, though, how ful­ly Volk­swa­gen might be able to cor­rect the prob­lem on the 11 mil­lion vehi­cles. The com­pa­ny could pre­sum­ably alter the engines, so that the cars on the road begin actu­al­ly meet­ing the required emis­sions stan­dards. But doing so would prob­a­bly degrade the vehi­cles’ fuel econ­o­my and per­for­mance, and might cause the engines to wear out soon­er.

    The E.P.A. has said it will ask Volk­swa­gen to recall almost a half-mil­lion vehi­cles sold in the Unit­ed States from 2009 to 2015. The affect­ed Golf, Pas­sat, Jet­ta and Bee­tle cars were equipped with 2‑liter diesel engines. Some Audi mod­els also use the same diesel engine.

    Volk­swa­gen has halt­ed sales of cars with the engines in the Unit­ed States.

    “It is not clear, though, how ful­ly Volk­swa­gen might be able to cor­rect the prob­lem on the 11 mil­lion vehi­cles. The com­pa­ny could pre­sum­ably alter the engines, so that the cars on the road begin actu­al­ly meet­ing the required emis­sions stan­dards. But doing so would prob­a­bly degrade the vehi­cles’ fuel econ­o­my and per­for­mance, and might cause the engines to wear out soon­er”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 22, 2015, 10:04 am
  6. BMW’s stock just took a plunge fol­low­ing reports that the diesel ver­sion of its X3 SUV exceed­ed the Euro­pean lim­it for air pol­lu­tion dur­ing a road test. It was 11 times the lim­it:

    Bloomber Busi­ness
    VW Scan­dal Threat­ens to Ensnare BMW as EU Urges Wider Probe

    Ger­man trans­port min­is­ter to check mod­els across indus­try
    BMW shares plunge as much as 9.7% on X3 diesel report

    Nao­mi Kres­ge Tony Czucz­ka James G Neuger
    Sep­tem­ber 24, 2015 — 6:02 AM CDT
    Updat­ed on Sep­tem­ber 24, 2015 — 7:37 AM CDT

    Volk­swa­gen AG’s diesel-cheat­ing affair deep­ened as the Euro­pean Union urged all 28-mem­ber coun­tries to start their own inves­ti­ga­tions and the scan­dal threat­ened to ensnare rival BMW AG.

    “We are invit­ing all mem­ber states to car­ry out inves­ti­ga­tions at the nation­al lev­el,” Euro­pean Com­mis­sion spokes­woman Lucia Caudet said in Brus­sels on Thurs­day. “We need to have the full pic­ture whether and how many vehi­cles cer­ti­fied in the EU were equipped with defeat devices.”

    In Ger­many, the trans­port min­istry said Thurs­day spot checks of vehi­cles would not be lim­it­ed to Volk­swa­gen, while BMW shares plunged after a report that a diesel ver­sion of the X3 sport util­i­ty vehi­cle emit­ted more than 11 times the Euro­pean lim­it for air pol­lu­tion in a road test.

    The entire auto indus­try and the meth­ods used for test­ing vehi­cles are com­ing under scruti­ny fol­low­ing rev­e­la­tions that VW’s “clean diesel” cars have soft­ware intend­ed to defeat emis­sions tests. The Euro­pean automak­ers’ lob­by group, the ACEA, on Wednes­day placed the blame in VW’s court, issu­ing a state­ment say­ing that “there is no evi­dence this is an indus­try-wide issue.”

    ...

    Ger­man Probe

    Germany’s motor vehi­cle admin­is­tra­tion “will con­cen­trate its inves­ti­ga­tions not only on the Volk­swa­gen mod­els in ques­tion but will also do spot checks of oth­er car man­u­fac­tur­ers,” Trans­port Min­is­ter Alexan­der Dobrindt told reporters in Berlin.

    Emis­sions mea­sured in road tests of 15 new diesel cars were an aver­age of about sev­en times high­er than Euro­pean lim­its, accord­ing to a study pub­lished last Octo­ber by the Inter­na­tion­al Coun­cil on Clean Trans­porta­tion, the same group whose tipoff led U.S. reg­u­la­tors to inves­ti­gate a gap between VW diesels’ emis­sions in tests and on the road.

    ICCT also found a gap between real-world and lab per­for­mance in BMW’s X3, Germany’s Auto­bild mag­a­zine report­ed. BMW said that there’s no sys­tem in its cars that responds to tests dif­fer­ent­ly than it would oper­ate on the road.

    “The BMW Group does not manip­u­late or rig any emis­sions tests,” the Munich-based com­pa­ny said in a state­ment in response to the report. “We observe the legal require­ments in each coun­try.”

    ...

    “Emis­sions mea­sured in road tests of 15 new diesel cars were an aver­age of about sev­en times high­er than Euro­pean lim­its, accord­ing to a study pub­lished last Octo­ber by the Inter­na­tion­al Coun­cil on Clean Trans­porta­tion, the same group whose tipoff led U.S. reg­u­la­tors to inves­ti­gate a gap between VW diesels’ emis­sions in tests and on the road.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 24, 2015, 9:07 am
  7. Here’s a reminder that as the VW scan­dal poten­tial­ly grows to include oth­er man­u­fac­tur­ers, the scan­dal just might start hit­ting gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tors too. At least, it should:

    The Guardian
    UK, France and Ger­many lob­bied for flawed car emis­sions tests, doc­u­ments reveal

    Exclu­sive: Coun­tries pub­licly call­ing for inves­ti­ga­tions into VW emis­sions rig­ging scan­dal have pri­vate­ly fought to keep loop­holes in car tests for car­bon emis­sions

    Arthur Neslen

    Thurs­day 24 Sep­tem­ber 2015 01.00 EDT

    The UK, France and Ger­many have been accused of hypocrisy for lob­by­ing behind the scenes to keep out­mod­ed car tests for car­bon emis­sions, but lat­er pub­licly call­ing for a Euro­pean inves­ti­ga­tion into Volkswagen’s rig­ging of car air pol­lu­tion tests.

    Leaked doc­u­ments seen by the Guardian show the three coun­tries lob­bied the Euro­pean com­mis­sion to keep loop­holes in car tests that would increase real world car­bon diox­ide emis­sions by 14% above those claimed.

    Just four months before the VW emis­sions scan­dal broke, the EU’s three biggest nations mount­ed a push to car­ry over loop­holes from a test devised in 1970 – known as the NEDC – to the World Light Vehi­cles Test Pro­ce­dure (WLTP), which is due to replace it in 2017.

    “It is unac­cept­able that gov­ern­ments which right­ly demand an EU inquiry into the VW’s rig­ging of air pol­lu­tion tests are simul­ta­ne­ous­ly lob­by­ing behind the scenes to con­tin­ue the rig­ging of CO2 emis­sions tests,” said Greg Archer, clean vehi­cles man­ag­er at the respect­ed green think­tank, Trans­port and Envi­ron­ment (T&E). “CO2 reg­u­la­tions should not be weak­ened by the back­door through test manip­u­la­tions.”

    Vehi­cle emis­sions are respon­si­ble for 12% of Europe’s car­bon emis­sions and by 2021, all new cars must meet an EU emis­sions lim­it of 95 grams of CO2 per km, putting accu­rate mea­sure­ments of real emis­sions at a pre­mi­um.

    The loop­holes would not only raise real world CO2 emis­sions from new cars to 110g CO2 per km – well above the EU lim­it – but increase fuel bills for dri­vers by €140 per year accord­ing T&E.

    Huw Irran­ca-Davies, Labour MP and chair of an influ­en­tial select com­mit­tee of MPs, the envi­ron­men­tal audit com­mit­tee, said: “Giv­en that the UK is strug­gling to bring down car­bon emis­sions and oth­er harm­ful pol­lu­tants from road vehi­cles it is extreme­ly wor­ry­ing that the UK gov­ern­ment appears to be try­ing to water down the EU’s pro­posed new road test­ing regime.

    “As well as cut­ting CO2 emis­sions, improv­ing the effi­cien­cy of vehi­cles can save lives by reduc­ing the ille­gal lev­els of air pol­lu­tion in UK cities, so the Depart­ment for Trans­port should be mak­ing these tests more rig­or­ous not less.”

    The WLTP test was sup­posed to remove loop­holes that had allowed a gap between real world CO2 emis­sions and test cycle ones to devel­op, which EU con­sul­tants have esti­mat­ed at up to 20%.

    But the UK lob­bied for car mak­ers to be allowed to exploit flex­i­bil­i­ties such as exter­nal­ly charg­ing their bat­ter­ies to full before test­ing. The Depart­ment for Trans­port also argued that the best avail­able tech­nolo­gies should be shunned in favour of out­dat­ed ‘iner­tia class­es’, which involve man­u­al­ly adding 100 kilo weights to the car to see what effect greater weight on the amount of CO2 the car pumps out.

    Research by the Inter­na­tion­al Coun­cil on Clean Trans­porta­tion has found that car man­u­fac­tur­ers often game these tests by opti­mis­ing test car per­for­mances at one pound below the desired iner­tia class.

    Ger­many went fur­ther than the UK, call­ing for the tests to be con­duct­ed on slop­ing down­hill tracks, and for allow­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers to declare a final CO2 val­ue 4% low­er than the one mea­sured. France sup­port­ed all the pro­posed loop­holes, bar the 4% low­er CO2 val­ue.

    Togeth­er, these flex­i­bil­i­ties would allow some 14% more CO2 to be emit­ted than EU reg­u­la­tions per­mit, accord­ing to an analy­sis by T&E. CO2 emis­sions con­tribute to cli­mate change, while the nitro­gen oxides (NOx) that VW rigged tests for are pri­mar­i­ly a cause of local air pol­lu­tion.

    In a let­ter to the Euro­pean com­mis­sion on 29 May, Bob Moran, the Depart­ment for Transport’s head of reg­u­la­tion and R&D argued that a ‘cor­re­la­tion tool’ between the old and new tests should include the old pro­ce­dures for iner­tia class­es and bat­tery recharges.

    “It appears to be a com­mon posi­tion under NEDC test con­di­tions that man­u­fac­tur­ers will (request to) recharge the bat­tery dur­ing the soak peri­od, or (request to) replace a par­tial­ly deplet­ed bat­tery with a ful­ly charged one at the start of the test prop­er,” he wrote. “We believe this com­mon­ly used approach should be reflect­ed in the cor­re­la­tion tool.”

    France backed this posi­tion for tech­ni­cal rea­sons, argu­ing that it pro­vid­ed “repeat­able infor­ma­tion”. But a ful­ly-charged bat­tery also pre­vents a car’s alter­na­tor from kick­ing in and releas­ing car­bon emis­sions dur­ing tests, as would hap­pen in real world dri­ving sit­u­a­tions.

    In a sign of grow­ing anger at the VW emis­sions-rig­ging scan­dal, which saw Mar­tin Win­terko­rn resign on Wednes­day, the Euro­pean parliament’s envi­ron­ment com­mit­tee vot­ed ear­li­er today for real world air pol­lu­tant emis­sions tests to begin no lat­er than 2017.

    The pan­el of MEPs also demand­ed that no loop­holes or devi­a­tions be allowed for pol­lu­tion lim­its.

    ...

    You have to love the “we just want to recharge our bat­ter­ies for the sake of repeata­bil­i­ty” argu­ment:

    ...
    But the UK lob­bied for car mak­ers to be allowed to exploit flex­i­bil­i­ties such as exter­nal­ly charg­ing their bat­ter­ies to full before test­ing. The Depart­ment for Trans­port also argued that the best avail­able tech­nolo­gies should be shunned in favour of out­dat­ed ‘iner­tia class­es’, which involve man­u­al­ly adding 100 kilo weights to the car to see what effect greater weight on the amount of CO2 the car pumps out.

    Research by the Inter­na­tion­al Coun­cil on Clean Trans­porta­tion has found that car man­u­fac­tur­ers often game these tests by opti­mis­ing test car per­for­mances at one pound below the desired iner­tia class.

    Ger­many went fur­ther than the UK, call­ing for the tests to be con­duct­ed on slop­ing down­hill tracks, and for allow­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers to declare a final CO2 val­ue 4% low­er than the one mea­sured. France sup­port­ed all the pro­posed loop­holes, bar the 4% low­er CO2 val­ue.

    Togeth­er, these flex­i­bil­i­ties would allow some 14% more CO2 to be emit­ted than EU reg­u­la­tions per­mit, accord­ing to an analy­sis by T&E. CO2 emis­sions con­tribute to cli­mate change, while the nitro­gen oxides (NOx) that VW rigged tests for are pri­mar­i­ly a cause of local air pol­lu­tion.

    ...

    “It appears to be a com­mon posi­tion under NEDC test con­di­tions that man­u­fac­tur­ers will (request to) recharge the bat­tery dur­ing the soak peri­od, or (request to) replace a par­tial­ly deplet­ed bat­tery with a ful­ly charged one at the start of the test prop­er,” he wrote. “We believe this com­mon­ly used approach should be reflect­ed in the cor­re­la­tion tool.”

    France backed this posi­tion for tech­ni­cal rea­sons, argu­ing that it pro­vid­ed “repeat­able infor­ma­tion”. But a ful­ly-charged bat­tery also pre­vents a car’s alter­na­tor from kick­ing in and releas­ing car­bon emis­sions dur­ing tests, as would hap­pen in real world dri­ving sit­u­a­tions.
    ...

    “But a ful­ly-charged bat­tery also pre­vents a car’s alter­na­tor from kick­ing in and releas­ing car­bon emis­sions dur­ing tests, as would hap­pen in real world dri­ving sit­u­a­tions.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 25, 2015, 10:00 am
  8. Accord­ing to a Ger­man Green Par­ty MP, the Ger­man gov­ern­ment told the MPs about this issue back in July. But that was­n’t all it did: “The gov­ern­ment worked with the auto indus­try, not to see that emis­sions lev­els were reduced, but so that the mea­sur­ing sys­tem was set up to allow the cars meet the nec­es­sary stan­dards on paper”

    The Tele­graph
    Ger­man gov­ern­ment ‘knew VW was rig­ging emis­sions test’
    Oppo­si­tion par­ty claims the Ger­man gov­ern­ment knew that Volk­swa­gen had fit­ted cheat devices to its cars

    By Justin Hug­gler in Berlin

    11:56AM BST 23 Sep 2015

    The Ger­man gov­ern­ment knew Volk­swa­gen was rig­ging its emis­sions tests and did noth­ing to stop it, an oppo­si­tion par­ty has alleged.

    The Ger­man Green Par­ty claimed Angela Merkel’s gov­ern­ment admit­ted that it knew about VW’s test rig­ging soft­ware in an answer to a par­lia­men­tary ques­tion in July.

    “The gov­ern­ment told us in July that it knew about this soft­ware, which has been used in the USA, and it’s clear they knew the soft­ware was wide­ly in use,” Oliv­er Krisch­er, the deputy leader of the Greens told N24 tele­vi­sion.

    “The gov­ern­ment worked with the auto indus­try, not to see that emis­sions lev­els were reduced, but so that the mea­sur­ing sys­tem was set up to allow the cars meet the nec­es­sary stan­dards on paper,” Mr Krisch­er alleged.

    The claim cen­tres on a writ­ten answer the Ger­man trans­port min­istry gave on July 28 to a ques­tion from the Greens about “defeat devices”, the indus­try name for the soft­ware that allowed VW to cheat emis­sions tests.

    ...

    The claim that Mrs Merkel’s gov­ern­ment knew VW was rig­ging its emis­sions tests was backed by a forum of Ger­man envi­ron­men­tal busi­ness­es.

    “The fed­er­al min­istry of trans­port has not once checked the infor­ma­tion pro­vid­ed by the man­u­fac­tur­er in recent in years,” Jür­gen Resch, the head of Deustche Unwelthil­fe, said.

    Alexan­der Dobrind, the trans­port min­is­ter, has denied the gov­ern­ment failed to mon­i­tor the car indus­try.

    “Again and again we con­duct test­ing. If there are irreg­u­lar­i­ties, we dis­cuss them imme­di­ate­ly with the auto man­u­fac­tur­er accord­ing to the rules,” he told reporters on Tues­day.

    Mr Dobrint has ordered an imme­di­ate inquiry into the VW scan­dal.

    “Our inquiry will inves­ti­gate whether the vehi­cles in ques­tion were built and test­ed with­in the exist­ing Ger­man and Euro­pean leg­is­la­tion,” he said.

    But the Green Par­ty stood by its claims.

    “It is sur­pris­ing to see how Mr Dobrindt acts shocked at the news in recent days, when in July he was very well informed about the sit­u­a­tion,” Mr Krisch­er said.

    “The VW emis­sions scan­dal is the result of a pol­i­cy in which envi­ron­men­tal and con­sumer pro­tec­tion are no longer impor­tant, and tricks and deceits are accept­ed with a wink.”

    Keep in mind that when you read:

    ...
    “The gov­ern­ment told us in July that it knew about this soft­ware, which has been used in the USA, and it’s clear they knew the soft­ware was wide­ly in use,” Oliv­er Krisch­er, the deputy leader of the Greens told N24 tele­vi­sion.

    “The gov­ern­ment worked with the auto indus­try, not to see that emis­sions lev­els were reduced, but so that the mea­sur­ing sys­tem was set up to allow the cars meet the nec­es­sary stan­dards on paper,” Mr Krisch­er alleged.
    ...

    that soft­ware has­n’t just been used in the USA:

    Reuters
    VW Emis­sions Test Cheat­ing More Wide­spread in Ger­many: Offi­cial

    Sep 25 2015, 11:58 am ET

    WOLFSBURG, Ger­many — Volk­swa­gen rigged emis­sion tests on about 2.8 mil­lion diesel vehi­cles in Ger­many, the coun­try’s trans­port min­is­ter said on Fri­day, near­ly six times as many as it has admit­ted to fal­si­fy­ing in the Unit­ed States.

    His com­ments, point­ing to cheat­ing on a big­ger scale than pre­vi­ous­ly known, deep­ened the cri­sis at the world’s largest automak­er as its super­vi­so­ry board held a cru­cial meet­ing.

    The board is wide­ly expect­ed to name Matthias Mueller, the head of its Porsche sports-car divi­sion, as chief exec­u­tive to replace Mar­tin Win­terko­rn, who quit on Wednes­day, and at least four senior exec­u­tives are expect­ed to be purged.

    ...

    The scan­dal keeps grow­ing. Ger­man Trans­port Min­is­ter Alexan­der Dobrindt said on Thurs­day Volk­swa­gen had also cheat­ed tests in Europe, where its sales are much high­er, and on Fri­day put the num­ber of affect­ed vehi­cles in Ger­many at 2.8 mil­lion.

    Reg­u­la­tors and pros­e­cu­tors across the world are inves­ti­gat­ing the scan­dal.

    The wider car mar­ket has been rocked, with man­u­fac­tur­ers fear­ing a drop in sales of diesel cars and tighter reg­u­la­tions, while cus­tomers and motor deal­ers are furi­ous that Volk­swa­gen has yet to say whether it will have to recall any cars.

    “VW needs to be very open about what has hap­pened, how it was pos­si­ble that this could hap­pen to make sure that this nev­er hap­pens again in the future,” said a lead­ing Volk­swa­gen share­hold­er, under­lin­ing the impor­tance of the board meet­ing. “These are pri­or­i­ties that should over­ride all oth­er con­sid­er­a­tions at the moment.”

    The task fac­ing Mueller, if his selec­tion is con­firmed, is huge.

    The com­pa­ny said on Tues­day 11 mil­lion vehi­cles world­wide were fit­ted with the soft­ware that allowed it to cheat U.S. tests, while adding it was not turned on in the bulk of them.

    Ana­lysts hope that on Fri­day it may at last say which mod­els and con­struc­tion years are affect­ed, and whether cars will need to be refit­ted. They also expect it to announce a full inves­ti­ga­tion of the scan­dal, with Ger­man news­pa­per Han­dels­blatt say­ing it planned to hire U.S. law firm Jones Day to lead a no holds barred inquiry, and to give the out­lines of a new man­age­ment struc­ture like­ly to be less cen­tral­ized, but with a clear­er sys­tem of checks.

    Volk­swa­gen has long been seen as a sym­bol of Ger­man indus­tri­al prowess and the auto indus­try is one of the coun­try’s major employ­ers and a key source of export rev­enue.

    Ear­li­er this month, Volk­swa­gen deliv­ered a pre­sen­ta­tion to investors at the annu­al Frank­furt motor show enti­tled “Sta­bil­i­ty in Volatile Times.” Now Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel is urg­ing it to act quick­ly to restore con­fi­dence in the Volk­swa­gen name.

    So over 400,000 cars are run­ning that soft­ware in the US, and 2.8 mil­lion in Ger­many appar­ent­ly, but VW asserts that, while 11 mil­lion vehi­cles world­wide were fit­ted with the soft­ware, it’s not turned on in the bulk of them:

    ...
    The com­pa­ny said on Tues­day 11 mil­lion vehi­cles world­wide were fit­ted with the soft­ware that allowed it to cheat U.S. tests, while adding it was not turned on in the bulk of them.
    ...

    And this, or course, rais­es the ques­tion of whether hav­ing the “defeat device” soft­ware turned off just leaves the cars in high-emmis­sion mode or low-emmis­sion mode per­ma­nent­ly. It’s not real­ly clear:

    Reuters
    Fact­box: Diesel engines and how VW’s ‘defeat device’ worked
    Mon Sep 21, 2015 4:46pm EDT

    Ger­many’s Volk­swa­gen (VOWG_p.DE), the world’s largest automak­er by sales, has admit­ted it had rigged emis­sions tests in diesel-pow­ered vehi­cles in the Unit­ed States and U.S. author­i­ties said on Mon­day they would widen their probe to oth­er automak­ers.

    The fol­low­ing are some facts about diesel car engines, the tailpipe pol­lu­tion they emit and the “defeat device” soft­ware that fed­er­al reg­u­la­tors say VW used to cir­cum­vent emis­sions stan­dards set by the U.S. Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) and the state of Cal­i­for­nia.

    ...

    COST — Because of the extra equip­ment and process need­ed to clean their diesel exhaust, diesel cars are more expen­sive than their gaso­line coun­ter­parts.

    VW’S DEFEAT DEVICE — The soft­ware switched on when the auto­mo­biles were being test­ed for com­pli­ance with EPA stan­dards, turn­ing off dur­ing nor­mal dri­ving to allow max­i­mum engine per­for­mance. The algo­rithm used infor­ma­tion about how the car was being steered, how long the engine ran and atmos­pher­ic pres­sure to “pre­cise­ly track” the con­di­tions that cor­re­spond­ed to a fed­er­al emis­sions test, accord­ing to the EPA.

    So for the bulk of the 11 mil­lion cars that have the “defeat device” soft­ware installed but appar­ent­ly not “turned on”, would­n’t the per­for­mance of those mod­els have been far worse than the same mod­els in US or Euro­pean if turn­ing “off” the soft­ware some­how neu­tral­ized? Don’t for­get that the “defeat device” allowed those cars to meet their adver­tised fuel effi­cien­cy and per­for­mance, so if that soft­ware was “turned off” for the bulk of those 11 mil­lion cars, should they have been dras­ti­cal­ly under­per­form­ing their adver­tised per­for­mance? And would­n’t con­sumers have dis­cov­ered this by now that was the case?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 25, 2015, 1:36 pm
  9. Accord­ing to a Ger­man Green Par­ty MP, the Ger­man gov­ern­ment told the MPs about this issue back in July. But that was­n’t all it did: “The gov­ern­ment worked with the auto indus­try, not to see that emis­sions lev­els were reduced, but so that the mea­sur­ing sys­tem was set up to allow the cars meet the nec­es­sary stan­dards on paper”

    The Tele­graph
    Ger­man gov­ern­ment ‘knew VW was rig­ging emis­sions test’
    Oppo­si­tion par­ty claims the Ger­man gov­ern­ment knew that Volk­swa­gen had fit­ted cheat devices to its cars

    By Justin Hug­gler in Berlin

    11:56AM BST 23 Sep 2015

    The Ger­man gov­ern­ment knew Volk­swa­gen was rig­ging its emis­sions tests and did noth­ing to stop it, an oppo­si­tion par­ty has alleged.

    The Ger­man Green Par­ty claimed Angela Merkel’s gov­ern­ment admit­ted that it knew about VW’s test rig­ging soft­ware in an answer to a par­lia­men­tary ques­tion in July.

    “The gov­ern­ment told us in July that it knew about this soft­ware, which has been used in the USA, and it’s clear they knew the soft­ware was wide­ly in use,” Oliv­er Krisch­er, the deputy leader of the Greens told N24 tele­vi­sion.

    “The gov­ern­ment worked with the auto indus­try, not to see that emis­sions lev­els were reduced, but so that the mea­sur­ing sys­tem was set up to allow the cars meet the nec­es­sary stan­dards on paper,” Mr Krisch­er alleged.

    The claim cen­tres on a writ­ten answer the Ger­man trans­port min­istry gave on July 28 to a ques­tion from the Greens about “defeat devices”, the indus­try name for the soft­ware that allowed VW to cheat emis­sions tests.

    ...

    The claim that Mrs Merkel’s gov­ern­ment knew VW was rig­ging its emis­sions tests was backed by a forum of Ger­man envi­ron­men­tal busi­ness­es.

    “The fed­er­al min­istry of trans­port has not once checked the infor­ma­tion pro­vid­ed by the man­u­fac­tur­er in recent in years,” Jür­gen Resch, the head of Deustche Unwelthil­fe, said.

    Alexan­der Dobrind, the trans­port min­is­ter, has denied the gov­ern­ment failed to mon­i­tor the car indus­try.

    “Again and again we con­duct test­ing. If there are irreg­u­lar­i­ties, we dis­cuss them imme­di­ate­ly with the auto man­u­fac­tur­er accord­ing to the rules,” he told reporters on Tues­day.

    Mr Dobrint has ordered an imme­di­ate inquiry into the VW scan­dal.

    “Our inquiry will inves­ti­gate whether the vehi­cles in ques­tion were built and test­ed with­in the exist­ing Ger­man and Euro­pean leg­is­la­tion,” he said.

    But the Green Par­ty stood by its claims.

    “It is sur­pris­ing to see how Mr Dobrindt acts shocked at the news in recent days, when in July he was very well informed about the sit­u­a­tion,” Mr Krisch­er said.

    “The VW emis­sions scan­dal is the result of a pol­i­cy in which envi­ron­men­tal and con­sumer pro­tec­tion are no longer impor­tant, and tricks and deceits are accept­ed with a wink.”

    Keep in mind that when you read:

    ...
    “The gov­ern­ment told us in July that it knew about this soft­ware, which has been used in the USA, and it’s clear they knew the soft­ware was wide­ly in use,” Oliv­er Krisch­er, the deputy leader of the Greens told N24 tele­vi­sion.

    “The gov­ern­ment worked with the auto indus­try, not to see that emis­sions lev­els were reduced, but so that the mea­sur­ing sys­tem was set up to allow the cars meet the nec­es­sary stan­dards on paper,” Mr Krisch­er alleged.
    ...

    that soft­ware has­n’t just been used in the USA:

    Reuters
    VW Emis­sions Test Cheat­ing More Wide­spread in Ger­many: Offi­cial

    Sep 25 2015, 11:58 am ET

    WOLFSBURG, Ger­many — Volk­swa­gen rigged emis­sion tests on about 2.8 mil­lion diesel vehi­cles in Ger­many, the coun­try’s trans­port min­is­ter said on Fri­day, near­ly six times as many as it has admit­ted to fal­si­fy­ing in the Unit­ed States.

    His com­ments, point­ing to cheat­ing on a big­ger scale than pre­vi­ous­ly known, deep­ened the cri­sis at the world’s largest automak­er as its super­vi­so­ry board held a cru­cial meet­ing.

    The board is wide­ly expect­ed to name Matthias Mueller, the head of its Porsche sports-car divi­sion, as chief exec­u­tive to replace Mar­tin Win­terko­rn, who quit on Wednes­day, and at least four senior exec­u­tives are expect­ed to be purged.

    ...

    The scan­dal keeps grow­ing. Ger­man Trans­port Min­is­ter Alexan­der Dobrindt said on Thurs­day Volk­swa­gen had also cheat­ed tests in Europe, where its sales are much high­er, and on Fri­day put the num­ber of affect­ed vehi­cles in Ger­many at 2.8 mil­lion.

    Reg­u­la­tors and pros­e­cu­tors across the world are inves­ti­gat­ing the scan­dal.

    The wider car mar­ket has been rocked, with man­u­fac­tur­ers fear­ing a drop in sales of diesel cars and tighter reg­u­la­tions, while cus­tomers and motor deal­ers are furi­ous that Volk­swa­gen has yet to say whether it will have to recall any cars.

    “VW needs to be very open about what has hap­pened, how it was pos­si­ble that this could hap­pen to make sure that this nev­er hap­pens again in the future,” said a lead­ing Volk­swa­gen share­hold­er, under­lin­ing the impor­tance of the board meet­ing. “These are pri­or­i­ties that should over­ride all oth­er con­sid­er­a­tions at the moment.”

    The task fac­ing Mueller, if his selec­tion is con­firmed, is huge.

    The com­pa­ny said on Tues­day 11 mil­lion vehi­cles world­wide were fit­ted with the soft­ware that allowed it to cheat U.S. tests, while adding it was not turned on in the bulk of them.

    Ana­lysts hope that on Fri­day it may at last say which mod­els and con­struc­tion years are affect­ed, and whether cars will need to be refit­ted. They also expect it to announce a full inves­ti­ga­tion of the scan­dal, with Ger­man news­pa­per Han­dels­blatt say­ing it planned to hire U.S. law firm Jones Day to lead a no holds barred inquiry, and to give the out­lines of a new man­age­ment struc­ture like­ly to be less cen­tral­ized, but with a clear­er sys­tem of checks.

    Volk­swa­gen has long been seen as a sym­bol of Ger­man indus­tri­al prowess and the auto indus­try is one of the coun­try’s major employ­ers and a key source of export rev­enue.

    Ear­li­er this month, Volk­swa­gen deliv­ered a pre­sen­ta­tion to investors at the annu­al Frank­furt motor show enti­tled “Sta­bil­i­ty in Volatile Times.” Now Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel is urg­ing it to act quick­ly to restore con­fi­dence in the Volk­swa­gen name.

    So over 400,000 cars are run­ning that soft­ware in the US, and 2.8 mil­lion in Ger­many appar­ent­ly, but VW asserts that, while 11 mil­lion vehi­cles world­wide were fit­ted with the soft­ware, it’s not turned on in the bulk of them:

    ...
    The com­pa­ny said on Tues­day 11 mil­lion vehi­cles world­wide were fit­ted with the soft­ware that allowed it to cheat U.S. tests, while adding it was not turned on in the bulk of them.
    ...

    And this, or course, rais­es the ques­tion of whether hav­ing the “defeat device” soft­ware turned off just leaves the cars in high-emmis­sion mode or low-emmis­sion mode per­ma­nent­ly. It’s not real­ly clear:

    Reuters
    Fact­box: Diesel engines and how VW’s ‘defeat device’ worked
    Mon Sep 21, 2015 4:46pm EDT

    Ger­many’s Volk­swa­gen (VOWG_p.DE), the world’s largest automak­er by sales, has admit­ted it had rigged emis­sions tests in diesel-pow­ered vehi­cles in the Unit­ed States and U.S. author­i­ties said on Mon­day they would widen their probe to oth­er automak­ers.

    The fol­low­ing are some facts about diesel car engines, the tailpipe pol­lu­tion they emit and the “defeat device” soft­ware that fed­er­al reg­u­la­tors say VW used to cir­cum­vent emis­sions stan­dards set by the U.S. Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency (EPA) and the state of Cal­i­for­nia.

    ...

    COST — Because of the extra equip­ment and process need­ed to clean their diesel exhaust, diesel cars are more expen­sive than their gaso­line coun­ter­parts.

    VW’S DEFEAT DEVICE — The soft­ware switched on when the auto­mo­biles were being test­ed for com­pli­ance with EPA stan­dards, turn­ing off dur­ing nor­mal dri­ving to allow max­i­mum engine per­for­mance. The algo­rithm used infor­ma­tion about how the car was being steered, how long the engine ran and atmos­pher­ic pres­sure to “pre­cise­ly track” the con­di­tions that cor­re­spond­ed to a fed­er­al emis­sions test, accord­ing to the EPA.

    So for the bulk of the 11 mil­lion cars that have the “defeat device” soft­ware installed but appar­ent­ly not “turned on”, would­n’t the per­for­mance of those mod­els have been far worse than the same mod­els in US or Euro­pean if turn­ing “off” the soft­ware some­how neu­tral­ized the emmis­sions trick­ery? Don’t for­get that the “defeat device” allowed those cars to meet their adver­tised fuel effi­cien­cy and per­for­mance, so if that soft­ware was “turned off” for the bulk of those 11 mil­lion cars, should they have been dras­ti­cal­ly under­per­form­ing their adver­tised per­for­mance? And would­n’t con­sumers have dis­cov­ered this by now that was the case?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 25, 2015, 1:37 pm
  10. If you have to be thrown under a bus, a nice adorable VW Bus is clear­ly your bus-to-run-over-you of choice, espe­cial­ly if its filled with hip­pies since they’ll prob­a­bly have var­i­ous painkilling pain dis­tract­ing sub­stances on board.

    But if you’re a VW exec­u­tive at risk of get­ting thrown under the metaphor­i­cal VW Bus, there’s a much bet­ter option avail­able: throw your tech­ni­cians and engi­neers under the VW Bus first, and hope that stops its momen­tum before it hits you:

    The Guardian
    VW scan­dal: staff sus­pend­ed as car giant appoints new CEO

    Vet­er­an head of Porsche divi­sion Matthias Müller takes over car giant and blames ‘small group’ of staff for emis­sions scan­dal

    Gra­ham Rud­dick and Sean Far­rell

    Fri­day 25 Sep­tem­ber 2015 14.39 EDT

    Volk­swa­gen has blamed its emis­sions scan­dal on a “small group” of peo­ple and has sus­pend­ed a num­ber of staff as Matthias Müller was unveiled as its new chief exec­u­tive.

    Müller, who has been pro­mot­ed from his role as boss of Porsche, pledged to leave “no stone unturned” and “max­i­mum trans­paren­cy” in an inves­ti­ga­tion into how the com­pa­ny cheat­ed emis­sions tests on diesel cars. The new VW boss did not reveal how many staff had been sus­pend­ed or who they were, but the com­pa­ny said the scan­dal was the result of “unlaw­ful behav­iour of engi­neers and tech­ni­cians involved in engine devel­op­ment”.

    Bernd Oster­loh, chair­man of VW’s work coun­cil and a mem­ber of the exec­u­tive com­mit­tee, said: “A small group has done dam­age to our com­pa­ny. We need a cli­mate where mis­takes are not hid­den.”

    Müller and Oster­loh were speak­ing at a press con­fer­ence to unveil the new boss of the trou­bled Ger­man car­mak­er. The 62-year-old was elect­ed by the VW board at a meet­ing on Fri­day to replace Mar­tin Win­terko­rn, who resigned fol­low­ing rev­e­la­tions in the US that Volk­swa­gen installed soft­ware in its cars to dis­guise ille­gal emis­sion lev­els.

    “My most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volk­swa­gen Group – by leav­ing no stone unturned and with max­i­mum trans­paren­cy, as well as draw­ing the right con­clu­sions from the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion,” Müller said.

    Müller faces a major chal­lenge in rebuild­ing VW. The com­pa­ny has admit­ted that 11m cars were fit­ted with defeat devices and set aside €6.5bn (£4.8bn) to pay for the costs of the cri­sis. How­ev­er, it also faces the prospect of fines of up to $18bn (£11.8bn) from US reg­u­la­tors and one of the biggest legal claims in his­to­ry from cus­tomers and share­hold­ers around the world.

    Berthold Huber, the act­ing head of VW’s super­vi­so­ry board, called the cri­sis a “moral and pol­i­cy dis­as­ter”. The car­mak­er has called an extra­or­di­nary share­hold­er meet­ing for 9 Novem­ber.

    “The super­vi­so­ry board has, on the basis of cur­rent infor­ma­tion, rec­om­mend­ed sus­pend­ing some employ­ees imme­di­ate­ly until the whole case is cleared up,” Huber said. “This has in part already hap­pened.

    “The test manip­u­la­tions are a moral and polit­i­cal dis­as­ter for Volk­swa­gen. The unlaw­ful behav­iour of engi­neers and tech­ni­cians involved in engine devel­op­ment shocked Volk­swa­gen just as much as it shocked the pub­lic. We can only apol­o­gise and ask our cus­tomers, the pub­lic, the author­i­ties and our investors to give us a chance to make amends.”

    In fur­ther devel­op­ments on Fri­day, the Ger­man gov­ern­ment said that 2.8m of the 11m cars installed with the defeat device were sold in Ger­many and that com­mer­cial vehi­cles were also involved. Doc­u­ments also emerged that showed EU offices knew two years ago that devices could skew emis­sions tests, and the US’s Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency warned that it would step up its emis­sions test against all car­mak­ers and that VW faced “mas­sive fines”.

    In addi­tion, Bloomberg report­ed that key parts of the faked emis­sions tests had been over­seen by VW exec­u­tives based in the company’s head­quar­ters in Wolfs­burg.

    Her­bert Diess, head of the Volk­swa­gen brand, said that 5m of the 11m cars affect­ed were Volk­swa­gen pas­sen­ger cars, includ­ing the sixth-gen­er­a­tion Golf and the sev­enth-gen­er­a­tion Pas­sat.

    Diess said: “We are work­ing at full speed on a tech­ni­cal solu­tion that we will present to part­ners, to our cus­tomers and to the pub­lic as swift­ly as pos­si­ble. Our aim is to inform our cus­tomers as quick­ly as pos­si­ble, so that their vehi­cles com­ply ful­ly with reg­u­la­tions.”

    Shares in VW fell by a fur­ther 4%. This means that rough­ly €25bn, or one-third, has been wiped off the val­ue of the car­mak­er this week.

    Ana­lysts at UBS warned that if the cri­sis wors­ened it could sig­nal the even­tu­al end of the com­bus­tion engine. Julie Hud­son at UBS said: “Should trans­port emis­sions become too dif­fi­cult to reg­u­late because of the dif­fi­cul­ty of amass­ing accu­rate data, we think this might go way beyond the diesel engine, to accel­er­ate the demise of the com­bus­tion engine.”

    ...

    It was all just “a small group” of engi­neers and tech­ni­cians (who were over­seen by exec­u­tives at the com­pa­ny head­quar­ters). Shame on those engi­neers and technicians...and only those engi­neers and tech­ni­cians:

    ...
    Müller, who has been pro­mot­ed from his role as boss of Porsche, pledged to leave “no stone unturned” and “max­i­mum trans­paren­cy” in an inves­ti­ga­tion into how the com­pa­ny cheat­ed emis­sions tests on diesel cars. The new VW boss did not reveal how many staff had been sus­pend­ed or who they were, but the com­pa­ny said the scan­dal was the result of “unlaw­ful behav­iour of engi­neers and tech­ni­cians involved in engine devel­op­ment”.

    Bernd Oster­loh, chair­man of VW’s work coun­cil and a mem­ber of the exec­u­tive com­mit­tee, said: “A small group has done dam­age to our com­pa­ny. We need a cli­mate where mis­takes are not hid­den.”

    ...
    In fur­ther devel­op­ments on Fri­day, the Ger­man gov­ern­ment said that 2.8m of the 11m cars installed with the defeat device were sold in Ger­many and that com­mer­cial vehi­cles were also involved. Doc­u­ments also emerged that showed EU offices knew two years ago that devices could skew emis­sions tests, and the US’s Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency warned that it would step up its emis­sions test against all car­mak­ers and that VW faced “mas­sive fines”.

    In addi­tion, Bloomberg report­ed that key parts of the faked emis­sions tests had been over­seen by VW exec­u­tives based in the company’s head­quar­ters in Wolfs­burg.

    ...

    Yes, it’s going to be a bumpy ride for the VW Bus...although it should smooth out before it hits the impor­tant bumps.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 26, 2015, 11:51 am
  11. As the inves­ti­ga­tions in the Volk­swa­gen emis­sion scam scan­dal pro­ceeds, one of the key ques­tions that all impact­ed par­ties are going to be inter­est­ed is it the clas­sic “what did they know, and when did they know it?” And based the fol­low, we can at least sort of answer those ques­tions: The board of exec­u­tives knew some­thing was wrong in 2011 because it received warn­ings warn­ings from its own tech­ni­cians. And it may was also warned by auto parts sup­pli­er Bosch that the Bosch soft­ware could be used ille­gal­ly as ear­ly as 2007, two years before the ille­gal soft­ware was installed in VW vehi­cles:

    Reuters
    Volk­swa­gen Was Warned of Emis­sions Cheat­ing Years Ago: Reports

    9/27/15 at 10:04 AM

    BERLIN/ROME (Reuters) — Volk­swa­gen’s own staff and one of its sup­pli­ers warned years ago about soft­ware designed to thwart emis­sions tests, two Ger­man news­pa­pers report­ed on Sun­day, as the automak­er tries to uncov­er how long its exec­u­tives knew about the cheat­ing.

    The world’s biggest automak­er is adding up the cost to its busi­ness and rep­u­ta­tion of the biggest scan­dal in its 78-year his­to­ry, hav­ing acknowl­edged installing soft­ware in diesel engines designed to hide their emis­sions of tox­ic gasses.

    Coun­tries around the world have launched their own inves­ti­ga­tions after the com­pa­ny was caught cheat­ing on tests in the Unit­ed States. Volk­swa­gen says the soft­ware affect­ed engines in 11 mil­lion cars, most of which were sold in Europe.

    sThe com­pa­ny’s inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tion is like­ly to focus on how far up the chain of com­mand were exec­u­tives who were respon­si­ble for the cheat­ing, and how long were they aware of it.

    The Frank­furter All­ge­meine Son­ntagszeitung, cit­ing a source on VW’s super­vi­so­ry board, said the board had received an inter­nal report at its meet­ing on Fri­day show­ing VW tech­ni­cians had warned about ille­gal emis­sions prac­tices in 2011. No expla­na­tion was giv­en as to why the mat­ter was not addressed then.

    Sep­a­rate­ly, Bild am Son­ntag news­pa­per said VW’s inter­nal probe had turned up a let­ter from parts sup­pli­er Bosch writ­ten in 2007 that also warned against the pos­si­ble ille­gal use of Bosch-sup­plied soft­ware tech­nol­o­gy. The paper did not cite a source for its report.

    Volk­swa­gen declined to com­ment on the details of either news­pa­per report.

    “There are seri­ous inves­ti­ga­tions under­way and the focus is now also on tech­ni­cal solu­tions” for cus­tomers and deal­ers, a Volk­swa­gen spokesman said. “As soon as we have reli­able facts we will be able to give answers.”

    A spokesman for Bosch said the com­pa­ny’s deal­ings with VW were con­fi­den­tial.

    Bild said Mar­tin Win­terko­rn, who quit as Volk­swa­gen CEO last week, was demand­ing his salary for the rest of his con­tract through the end of next year but the board did not want to pay it. It cit­ed no source. Win­terko­rn was paid 16 mil­lion euros last year, the most of any CEO in Ger­many’s blue chip DAX index.

    SALES HALT IN ITALY

    Volk­swa­gen is still com­ing up with plans to deal with the 11 mil­lion cars that it built with the affect­ed engines.

    Its Ital­ian unit has told its deal­ers to stop sell­ing them, Italy’s Cor­ri­era del­la Sera news­pa­per report­ed on Sun­day. It said that would leave 40,000 cars stuck on Ital­ian lots.

    “As a pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sure, we ask that you sus­pend imme­di­ate­ly the sale, reg­is­tra­tion and deliv­ery only of vehi­cles car­ry­ing the Euro 5, EA 189 motor,” the news­pa­per quot­ed Mas­si­mo Nor­dio, chief exec­u­tive office of Volk­swa­gen’s Ital­ian unit, as writ­ing in a let­ter to deal­ers.

    A Volk­swa­gen spokesman said there had been no instruc­tions from com­pa­ny head­quar­ters in Ger­many to deal­ers to stop sell­ing the affect­ed cars, but sales units in indi­vid­ual coun­tries had the right to take such deci­sions on their own.

    Italy’s Volk­swa­gen head­quar­ters in Verona did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to calls.

    In Volk­swa­gen’s home mar­ket Ger­many, where 2.8 mil­lion of the 11 mil­lion affect­ed diesel cars are on the road, the gov­ern­ment watch­dog KBA has set an Octo­ber 7 dead­line for the com­pa­ny to present a plan to bring diesel emis­sions into line with the law, Bild report­ed.

    ...

    POLITICAL PRESSURE

    Ger­man politi­cians have been adding to the pres­sure on Volk­swa­gen, wor­ried about the rep­u­ta­tion of Ger­man indus­try.

    “We need a guar­an­tee that cars of Ger­man man­u­fac­tur­ers are in line with the norms, with­out manip­u­la­tion,” Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff Peter Alt­maier told Der Tagesspiegelin an inter­view pub­lished on Sun­day.

    Envi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Bar­bara Hen­dricks said the scan­dal must not be allowed to tar­nish “the made in Ger­many brand.”

    “If a glob­al play­er from Ger­many vio­lates envi­ron­ment pro­tec­tion rules that bla­tant­ly, this casts a shad­ow on the envi­ron­ment pledges of Ger­man com­pa­nies,” she told Han­dels­blatt news­pa­per in an inter­view to be pub­lished on Mon­day.

    She said the Euro­pean Union was work­ing on stricter emis­sions tests to focus more on nor­mal road con­di­tions, rather than rely on lab results.

    Diesel engines use less fuel and emit less carbon—blamed for glob­al warming—than stan­dard gaso­line engines. But they emit high­er lev­els of tox­ic gasses known as nitro­gen oxides, blamed for deaths from lung and heart dis­ease.

    In most of the world, includ­ing the Unit­ed States, diesel engines in pas­sen­ger cars are a niche prod­uct. But their fuel econ­o­my and low car­bon emis­sions have made them pop­u­lar in Europe, where they now account for half of vehi­cles sold.

    Volk­swa­gen and oth­er Euro­pean man­u­fac­tur­ers have pro­mot­ed “clean diesel” tech­nol­o­gy, ben­e­fit­ing from diesel’s fuel econ­o­my but meet­ing strin­gent tests for emis­sions of tox­ins. But the sug­ges­tion that this was achieved by cheat­ing on tests could affect the via­bil­i­ty of the entire diesel sec­tor and the fate of com­pa­nies that have bet on it.

    “In most of the world, includ­ing the Unit­ed States, diesel engines in pas­sen­ger cars are a niche prod­uct. But their fuel econ­o­my and low car­bon emis­sions have made them pop­u­lar in Europe, where they now account for half of vehi­cles sold.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 28, 2015, 4:48 pm
  12. Volk­swa­gen just released the num­ber of cars in the UK run­ning with the “defeat device” soft­ware installed: 1.2 mil­lion:

    The Guardian
    VW emis­sions scan­dal: 1.2m UK cars affect­ed

    Ger­man car­mak­er admits scale of prob­lem in Britain for first time with Aud­is, Seats and Ško­das among vehi­cles fit­ted with defeat devices

    Gra­ham Rud­dick

    Wednes­day 30 Sep­tem­ber 2015 06.26 EDT

    Volk­swa­gen has revealed that almost 1.2m vehi­cles in the UK are involved in the diesel emis­sions scan­dal that has rocked the car­mak­er, mean­ing more than one in 10 diesel cars on the country’s roads are affect­ed.

    VW said the diesel vehi­cles include 508,276 Volk­swa­gen cars, 393,450 Aud­is, 76,773 Seats, 131,569 Ško­das and 79,838 Volk­swa­gen com­mer­cial vehi­cles. The total num­ber of vehi­cles affect­ed is 1,189,906.

    This is the first time VW has admit­ted how many of the 11m vehi­cles fit­ted with a defeat device to cheat emis­sions tests are in the UK.

    The admis­sion means that the UK is one of the coun­tries worst affect­ed by the scan­dal and will increase the pres­sure on the gov­ern­ment to launch a full inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Fig­ures from the Depart­ment for Trans­port show that there were 10.7m diesel cars on Britain’s roads at the end of 2014 and that an esti­mat­ed 5.3m of the petrol and diesel cars are Volk­swa­gens or one of the groups’ sis­ter brands.

    Patrick McLough­lin, the trans­port sec­re­tary, said: “The government’s pri­or­i­ty is to pro­tect the pub­lic and I under­stand VW are con­tact­ing all UK cus­tomers affect­ed. I have made clear to the man­ag­ing direc­tor this needs to hap­pen as soon as pos­si­ble.

    “The gov­ern­ment expects VW to set out quick­ly the next steps it will take to cor­rect the prob­lem and sup­port own­ers of these vehi­cles already pur­chased in the UK.”

    VW said 2.8m vehi­cles in Ger­many are involved, while 482,000 cars have been recalled in the US.

    ...

    That’s a lot of cars! And pol­lu­tion. So much that you have to won­der how this could impact the rela­tions between Ger­many and UK with the UK’s ref­er­en­dum on stay­ing in the EU yet to come...especially since David Cameron report­ed­ly did a U‑turn on new EU emis­sion lim­its back in 2013 that he had pre­vi­ous­ly sup­port­ed as a per­son­al favor to Angela Merkel:

    The Inde­pen­dent
    Car emis­sions: Gov­ern­ment under attack over Cameron’s test­ing favour to Merkel

    For­mer trans­port min­is­ter claims Mr Cameron buck­led to pres­sure from Ger­man Chan­cel­lor to delay new emis­sions lim­its

    Jamie mer­rill
    Sat­ur­day 26 Sep­tem­ber 2015 19:04 BST

    The Gov­ern­ment is fac­ing a polit­i­cal row over the inde­pen­dence and effec­tive­ness of Britain’s auto­mo­tive test­ing regime as the fall­out from the Volk­swa­gen emis­sions scan­dal con­tin­ues to spread across Europe.

    The for­mer Lib­er­al Demo­c­rat trans­port min­is­ter Nor­man Bak­er has claimed David Cameron buck­led to pres­sure from Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel to delay new emis­sions lim­its.

    Mr Bak­er, who served as trans­port min­is­ter from 2010 to 2013, said that Ms Merkel had per­son­al­ly tele­phoned the Prime Min­is­ter and called in a favour to pro­tect her country’s car indus­try. He said that Mr Cameron’s U‑Turn over EU emis­sions reg­u­la­tion had pro­voked “fury” with­in Gov­ern­ment and from UK car firms.

    “We had nego­ti­at­ed a good deal which both reduced over­all emis­sions and had pro­tec­tions for niche British car­mak­ers such as Aston Mar­tin, but the Ger­mans want­ed super cred­its added back in, which are of no use to our man­u­fac­tures but were very use­ful to BMW and Daim­ler, said Mr Bak­er.

    Super cred­its are a clause in EU rules for reward­ing a large man­u­fac­tur­er with per­mis­sion to make high-emit­ting gas guz­zlers if it also man­u­fac­tures a cer­tain num­ber of elec­tric cars or low emis­sions vehi­cles. Cam­paign­ers say the sys­tem has allowed large car mak­ers to con­tin­ue to pro­duce high CO2 emit­ting vehi­cle in exchange for pro­duc­ing a small num­ber of low­er emis­sions vehi­cles.

    Mr Bak­er added: “Hav­ing got the deal David Cameron then unpicked it. Merkel rang up and want­ed a favour and idi­ot­i­cal­ly he said yes. He dam­aged the British car indus­try and dam­aged the envi­ron­ment. It was Num­ber 10 fail­ing to involve [gov­ern­ment] depart­ments as usu­al that caused the prob­lem.”

    The chair­man of the Com­mons Trans­port Com­mit­tee, Louise Ell­man, said Mr Baker’s claims raised a “very big ques­tions” about out­side influ­ence on pol­i­cy. “There is cer­tain­ly a major ques­tion about the influ­ence of the motor indus­try against the inter­ests of the pub­lic,” she told the BBC Radio 4 Today pro­gramme. “Test­ing should be inde­pen­dent of man­u­fac­tur­ers and of gov­ern­ment and it doesn’t seem that that has been the case.”

    Mr Baker’s claim came after Britain’s lead­ing car data ana­lyst told the Inde­pen­dent on Sun­day that there would be “car­nage” if the VW scan­dal spread to emis­sions and pol­lu­tions test­ing.

    Nick Mold­en, founder of Emis­sion Ana­lyt­ics, said: “If wide­spread ille­gal­i­ty is found among car man­u­fac­tur­ers in Europe then all bets are off. There will be such car­nage.”

    A Gov­ern­ment spokesper­son refused to deny the claims by Mr Bak­er, but said the EU-wide nego­ti­a­tions over new C02 tar­gets are “an entire­ly dif­fer­ent issue to man­u­fac­tures ille­gal­ly fal­si­fy­ing emis­sions tests.” How­ev­er fuel effi­cien­cy and emis­sions stan­dards are increas­ing­ly being linked amid fierce crit­i­cism of the EU’s approach to auto­mo­tive test­ing.

    Else­where in Europe the VW emis­sions scan­dal con­tin­ued to cause dis­rup­tion, as Switzer­land banned the sales of VW, Audi, Seat and Sko­da diesel cars fit­ted with the affect­ed VW Group engines, in a move that will shelve 180,000 vehi­cles that are in the coun­try but yet to be sold. In the UK there are increas­ing con­cerns among large fleet oper­a­tors over the fall­out from the VW scan­dal and pos­si­ble knock-on effects for sec­ond-hand car val­ues.

    ...

    “Gov­ern­ment spokesper­son refused to deny the claims by Mr Bak­er, but said the EU-wide nego­ti­a­tions over new C02 tar­gets are “an entire­ly dif­fer­ent issue to man­u­fac­tures ille­gal­ly fal­si­fy­ing emis­sions tests.” How­ev­er fuel effi­cien­cy and emis­sions stan­dards are increas­ing­ly being linked amid fierce crit­i­cism of the EU’s approach to auto­mo­tive test­ing.”

    Yes indeed, the charges of Mr. Bak­er are “an entire­ly dif­fer­ent issue to man­u­fac­tures ille­gal­ly fal­si­fy­ing emis­sions tests,” although high­ly the­mat­i­cal­ly relat­ed:

    ...
    Mr Bak­er, who served as trans­port min­is­ter from 2010 to 2013, said that Ms Merkel had per­son­al­ly tele­phoned the Prime Min­is­ter and called in a favour to pro­tect her country’s car indus­try. He said that Mr Cameron’s U‑Turn over EU emis­sions reg­u­la­tion had pro­voked “fury” with­in Gov­ern­ment and from UK car firms.

    “We had nego­ti­at­ed a good deal which both reduced over­all emis­sions and had pro­tec­tions for niche British car­mak­ers such as Aston Mar­tin, but the Ger­mans want­ed super cred­its added back in, which are of no use to our man­u­fac­tures but were very use­ful to BMW and Daim­ler, said Mr Bak­er.

    Super cred­its are a clause in EU rules for reward­ing a large man­u­fac­tur­er with per­mis­sion to make high-emit­ting gas guz­zlers if it also man­u­fac­tures a cer­tain num­ber of elec­tric cars or low emis­sions vehi­cles. Cam­paign­ers say the sys­tem has allowed large car mak­ers to con­tin­ue to pro­duce high CO2 emit­ting vehi­cle in exchange for pro­duc­ing a small num­ber of low­er emis­sions vehi­cles.
    ...

    “Super cred­its are a clause in EU rules for reward­ing a large man­u­fac­tur­er with per­mis­sion to make high-emit­ting gas guz­zlers if it also man­u­fac­tures a cer­tain num­ber of elec­tric cars or low emis­sions vehi­cles. Cam­paign­ers say the sys­tem has allowed large car mak­ers to con­tin­ue to pro­duce high CO2 emit­ting vehi­cle in exchange for pro­duc­ing a small num­ber of low­er emis­sions vehi­cles.

    And as researchers con­clud­ed in 2013, these “super cred­its” weren’t even required for Euro­pean auto man­u­fac­tur­ers to meet their emis­sions tar­gets. It was just a waste.

    So we’ll see if David Cameron’s 2012 deci­sion to demur to Merkel’s request for a favor to let Ger­man man­u­fac­tur­ers sell more high-pol­lut­ing vehi­cles ends up becom­ing part of the grow­ing emis­sions scan­dal, but if so, it could have end engulf­ing more EU lead­ers that just David Cameron. That deci­sion to delay those stan­dards and allow for unnec­es­sary “super cred­it” was an EU deci­sion and involved a lot more lead­ers than just David Cameron. And was also report­ed on in 2013:

    EurActiv.com
    Diplo­mat: Ger­many ‘dic­tat­ed’ delay to CO2 in cars deal
    by Arthur Neslen
    28 Jun 2013 — 08:49 updat­ed: 28 Jun 2013 — 16:39

    Ger­man dik­tats to the Irish EU pres­i­den­cy are respon­si­ble for freez­ing a hard-fought deal to cap emis­sions from Europe’s cars by 2020, which was set to be rub­ber-stamped at the Euro­pean sum­mit, diplo­mat­ic sources say.

    Ear­li­er this week, the pro­pos­al to lim­it pas­sen­ger car emis­sions to 95 grams of CO2 per km (g/km) was hailed by the Irish envi­ron­ment min­is­ter Phil Hogan as “a win-win for cli­mate, con­sumers, inno­va­tion and jobs.”

    But in scenes that cam­paign­ers called “unprece­dent­ed”, the vote was delayed indef­i­nite­ly yes­ter­day (27 June), and must now be addressed by Lithua­nia, which takes on the six-month rotat­ing EU Coun­cil Pres­i­den­cy on 1 July.

    “The way it hap­pened was high­ly unusu­al in that it was the result of high lev­el con­tacts,” one diplo­mat told EurAc­tiv. “The choice of the [Irish] pres­i­den­cy was dic­tat­ed to them.”

    The source con­firmed press reports that Chan­cel­lor Merkel called Ireland’s Taoiseach Enda Ken­ny over the issue the night before the sum­mit of EU lead­ers, which opened in Brus­sels yes­ter­day (27 June).

    “The pres­i­den­cy didn’t stand up to Germany’s requests,” the diplo­mat­ic source said. “The ‘right argu­ments’ were found to get this flex­i­bil­i­ty from the pres­i­den­cy and Ire­land bowed to the pres­sure.”

    Lux­u­ry Ger­man car-mak­ers such as Daim­ler and BMW have com­plained that the pro­posed tar­gets unfair­ly sin­gled them out. At 147 g/km on aver­age, emis­sions from Germany’s car indus­try are 15g/km high­er than the EU medi­an, accord­ing to the Inter­na­tion­al Coun­cil on Clean Trans­porta­tion.

    Clean car cam­paign­ers say that Berlin is play­ing for time until Croatia’s acces­sion to the EU on 1 July brings it clos­er to a block­ing minor­i­ty at the EU Coun­cil of Min­is­ters, which rep­re­sents the mem­ber states. But as yesterday’s vote was mere­ly indica­tive, Zagreb would still have had a say in any final Coun­cil deci­sion.

    Coun­tries such as Poland and the UK are wide­ly believed to have sup­port­ed the Ger­man demand for post­pon­ing the vote. EurAc­tiv under­stands that a few min­utes before the delay was announced, France also adopt­ed this posi­tion, fol­low­ing high-lev­el – but not prime min­is­te­r­i­al – Ger­man-Fran­co con­tacts.

    “They told France that they need­ed this delay, and promised to use it to explain the deal to their man­u­fac­tur­ers and not to build a block­ing minor­i­ty,” an EU source said.

    Green scep­ti­cism

    Green cam­paign­ers though were scep­ti­cal of Germany’s motives, with Trans­port & Environment’s Greg Archer lam­bast­ing what he called “an attempt to over­turn a fair­ly-nego­ti­at­ed agree­ment between the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, the Com­mis­sion and the Coun­cil itself.”

    He went on: “It is ludi­crous for Ger­many to claim it needs more time, as the 95g tar­get was agreed five years ago and Ger­many has already put for­ward five dif­fer­ent pro­pos­als that have been reject­ed by the vast major­i­ty of EU coun­tries.”

    EU states last week reject­ed Ger­man efforts to allow ‘super-cred­its’ for low car­bon cars to be banked for a fur­ther three years after 2020. In prac­tice, envi­ron­men­tal­ists say this would sim­ply have extend­ed the dead­line for com­pli­ance until 2023.

    ...

    That was the EU par­lia­men­tary road­block in June of 2013 over the new stan­dards and lack of “super cred­its”. But a com­pro­mise was even­tu­al­ly reach in Novem­ber and, sur­prise, sur­prise, the back­ers of “super cred­its” were pre­sum­ably super hap­py:

    Deutsche Welle
    Ger­many, EU reach com­pro­mise over vehi­cle car­bon emis­sions

    Fol­low­ing months of delays by Ger­many, the Euro­pean Union has reached an agree­ment on car­bon emis­sions restric­tions for new cars. Man­u­fac­tur­ers will have more time to meet the rules.

    Date 29.11.2013

    Efforts to curb car­bon diox­ide emis­sions from Europe’s vehi­cles were revived on Fri­day fol­low­ing months of delays, as Euro­pean Union diplo­mats announced they had unan­i­mous­ly reached an agree­ment for tough car­bon diox­ide emis­sions rules for new cars.

    Progress on the plans was stalled by Ger­many when it put the brakes on the mea­sures in June.

    Berlin had expressed con­cerns that an EU plan to lim­it car exhaust emis­sions to 95 grams of car­bon diox­ide per kilo­me­ter (95g/km) for all new cars by 2020 would harm Ger­many’s dom­i­nant auto­mo­bile indus­try. It pushed for man­u­fac­tur­ers to be grant­ed four more years to reach that lim­it.

    Ger­many’s Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel, whose Chris­t­ian Democ­rats par­ty received mon­ey from car­mak­er BMW, came under pres­sure for tak­ing up the cause of the large Ger­man auto man­u­fac­tur­ers, say­ing that she was pro­tect­ing Ger­man jobs.

    Car­bon com­pro­mise

    Under the com­pro­mise deal, which is expect­ed to be endorsed by the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in Jan­u­ary, the 95g/km lim­it would apply from 2021, with 95 per­cent of new cars still need­ing to meet the lim­it by 2020.

    It also includes the intro­duc­tion of so-called “super­cred­its” which would enable mak­ers of gas-guz­zling cars to remain with­in the EU tar­gets if they also includ­ed hybrid or elec­tric vehi­cles in their prod­uct ranges. This would ben­e­fit Ger­man lux­u­ry car mak­ers like Daim­ler and BMW.

    Spokesman for the Ger­man gov­ern­ment Georg Stre­it­er said the deal pro­vid­ed “a more flex­i­ble arrange­ment with added inno­va­tion incen­tives.”

    ‘Bet­ter late than nev­er’

    EU Cli­mate Action Com­mis­sion­er Con­nie Hede­gaard took to social net­work­ing plat­form Twit­ter to show her sup­port for the deal “Too much water­ing-down avoid­ed,” she wrote. “Bet­ter late than nev­er.”

    The Ger­man Asso­ci­a­tion of the Auto­mo­bile Indus­try (VDA) spoke of the “enor­mous effort” ahead but said the planned deal was a “step in the right direc­tion”.

    How­ev­er, the dilu­tion of the orig­i­nal plans was crit­i­cized by envi­ron­men­tal groups who fear that not enough is being done to curb car­bon diox­ide emis­sions, which are seen to con­tribute to cli­mate change.

    Green­peace accused the Ger­man auto­mo­bile indus­try of “the­atri­cal whin­ing”.

    ...

    And, yes, fol­low­ing that com­pro­mise agree­ment, the “super cred­its” bill became law a few months lat­er.

    So that all hap­pened. Pre­vi­ous­ly. And no one real­ly cared. But now that the VW mega scan­dal has also hap­pened maybe we’ll see some seri­ous pub­lic atten­tion on the fact the EU’s auto emis­sions laws were basi­cal­ly writ­ten by the Ger­man auto indus­try. It’s some­thing the indus­try prob­a­bly does­n’t want to pub­licly take cred­it for but that may not be an option at this point giv­en the super job it’s done so far.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 30, 2015, 12:44 pm
  13. VW’s US oper­a­tions chief Michael Horn appears to have a pret­ty good idea of who is to blame for the emis­sions scan­dal: Two soft­ware engi­neers. And only two soft­ware engi­neers:

    Inter­na­tion­al Busi­ness Times
    VW scan­dal: Michael Horn says com­pa­ny not behind cheat device and blames 2 soft­ware engi­neers

    By Rachel Mid­dle­ton
    Octo­ber 9, 2015 04:24 BST

    Volk­swa­gen’s US oper­a­tions chief Michael Horn came out strong­ly defend­ing the com­pa­ny say­ing that it was not a cor­po­rate deci­sion to install cheat soft­ware devices on 11 mil­lion diesel vehi­cles glob­al­ly. He placed the blame sole­ly on a cou­ple of soft­ware engi­neers.

    Fac­ing the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Over­sight and Inves­ti­ga­tions pan­el in the US Con­gress on Thurs­day (8 Octo­ber), he how­ev­er con­ced­ed, after tough ques­tion­ing, that even he found it dif­fi­cult to believe this.

    Ini­tial­ly, he told the pan­el: “This was a cou­ple of soft­ware engi­neers who put this in for what­ev­er rea­son. Some peo­ple have made the wrong deci­sions in order to get away with some­thing that will have to be found out.”

    How­ev­er, Chris Collins a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from New York told Horn that he “cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly” reject­ed the idea that using the defeat devices was not a cor­po­rate deci­sion and that soft­ware engi­neers were sole­ly respon­si­ble. “Either your entire organ­i­sa­tion is incom­pe­tent when it comes to try­ing to come up with intel­lec­tu­al prop­er­ty, and I don’t believe that for a sec­ond, or they are com­plic­it at the high­est lev­els in a mas­sive cov­er-up that con­tin­ues today.” And Horn’s reply to that was: “I agree it’s very hard to believe. Per­son­al­ly I strug­gle as well.”

    The Ger­man automak­er has sus­pend­ed 10 senior man­agers, includ­ing three top engi­neers, as part of its on-going inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tion. Its then chief exec­u­tive offi­cer, Mar­tin Win­terko­rn was also forced to resign when the scan­dal broke.

    Horn also told the pan­el that he felt per­son­al­ly deceived and that it was wrong for com­pa­nies to put prof­its before peo­ple. He said he was unable to sleep at night after the com­pa­ny admit­ted that 11 mil­lion vehi­cles were fit­ted with a defeat device aimed at cheat­ing emis­sions tests.

    “I have worked for 25 years for this com­pa­ny. Integri­ty, qual­i­ty and not cheat­ing was always for me a giv­en for this com­pa­ny. I don’t sleep at night,” he said. He claimed that he had “no under­stand­ing” of what defeat devices were and only learned of them at a meet­ing in Sep­tem­ber that Volk­swa­gen held with US and Cal­i­for­nia air reg­u­la­tors.

    ...

    “This was a cou­ple of soft­ware engi­neers who put this in for what­ev­er rea­son. Some peo­ple have made the wrong deci­sions in order to get away with some­thing that will have to be found out....I agree it’s very hard to believe. Per­son­al­ly I strug­gle as well.”

    So accord­ing to the guy claims to have had “no under­stand­ing” of what defeat devices were and only learned of them at a meet­ing in Sep­tem­ber that Volk­swa­gen held with US and Cal­i­for­nia air reg­u­la­tors, he’s pret­ty con­fi­dent it was just a cou­ple of soft­ware engi­neers. It’ll be inter­est­ing to see if the same two engi­neers get blamed for the sec­ond “defeat device” that reg­u­la­tors have just stum­bled across, or if that will be blamed on a dif­fer­ent pair of engi­neers. And only those engi­neers:

    CBC News
    U.S. reg­u­la­tors probe whether Volk­swa­gens have 2nd cheat device
    U.S. CEO Michael Horn admits VW with­drew 2016 diesel vehi­cles from reg­u­la­to­ry process over soft­ware

    Post­ed: Oct 09, 2015 11:25 AM ET Last Updat­ed: Oct 09, 2015 5:21 PM ET

    U.S. and Cal­i­for­nia reg­u­la­tors are inves­ti­gat­ing whether a sec­ond device designed to foil emis­sions reg­u­la­tions has been installed in some Volk­swa­gen mod­els, accord­ing to the New York Times.

    A spokesman for the Cal­i­for­nia Air Resources Board admit­ted to the news­pa­per that it is look­ing into Volk­swa­gen’s cer­ti­fi­ca­tion doc­u­ments and the impact of a sec­ond device. The Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency is also inves­ti­gat­ing.

    The aux­il­iary emis­sions con­trol device would be in addi­tion to the engine soft­ware exposed last month that switched on emis­sions con­trols dur­ing test­ing con­di­tions but turned them off dur­ing real-world dri­ving.

    The Cal­i­for­nia reg­u­la­tor has giv­en Volk­swa­gen until Nov. 20 to come up with a fix for its diesel engines that spew too much nitro­gen oxide.

    On Thurs­day, the CEO of VW’s U.S. oper­a­tions Michael Horn pre­sent­ed back­ground doc­u­ments to Con­gress that showed Volk­swa­gen had with­drawn its 2016 diesel cars from envi­ron­men­tal cer­ti­fi­ca­tion over a soft­ware device.

    The Inter­na­tion­al Coun­cil on Clean Trans­porta­tion, the research group that first exposed Volk­swa­gen’s emis­sions cheat­ing, has not­ed the pres­ence of an aux­il­iary emis­sions con­trol device on 2016 mod­els.

    Automak­ers are allowed to use such devices to allow high­er emis­sions when a vehi­cle is going uphill or in very cold weath­er if they are approved by reg­u­la­tors.

    But Horn tes­ti­fied Thurs­day before a House ener­gy and com­merce sub­com­mit­tee that the com­pa­ny had neglect­ed to dis­close the soft­ware and seek approval from reg­u­la­tors.

    ...

    Hid­den soft­ware that should be allowed, but must be dis­closed and yet was­n’t. That is a bit sus­pi­cious all things con­sid­ered:

    ...
    The Inter­na­tion­al Coun­cil on Clean Trans­porta­tion, the research group that first exposed Volk­swa­gen’s emis­sions cheat­ing, has not­ed the pres­ence of an aux­il­iary emis­sions con­trol device on 2016 mod­els.

    Automak­ers are allowed to use such devices to allow high­er emis­sions when a vehi­cle is going uphill or in very cold weath­er if they are approved by reg­u­la­tors.

    But Horn tes­ti­fied Thurs­day before a House ener­gy and com­merce sub­com­mit­tee that the com­pa­ny had neglect­ed to dis­close the soft­ware and seek approval from reg­u­la­tors.

    ...

    “But Horn tes­ti­fied Thurs­day before a House ener­gy and com­merce sub­com­mit­tee that the com­pa­ny had neglect­ed to dis­close the soft­ware and seek approval from reg­u­la­tors.”
    This pesky soft­ware engi­neers. Clear­ly they were sole­ly respon­si­ble for this (and not the guy run­ning the US oper­a­tions that appar­ent­ly did­n’t know what a “defeat device” was until last month).

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 9, 2015, 2:47 pm
  14. Here’s anoth­er “uh oh” report for VW’s man­age­ment: It turns out using “defeat device” soft­ware to cheat emis­sions tests in a broad range of vehi­cles over a num­ber of years (with chang­ing tech­nol­o­gy) in dif­fer­ent coun­tries with dif­fer­ent emis­sions guide­lines might require the devel­op­ment of mul­ti­ple ver­sions of the “defeat device” soft­ware for all of those dif­fer­ent cir­cum­stance and updat­ing it when new engine tech­nol­o­gy is rolled out. And doing all that since 2008 would­n’t be very easy to do with­out man­age­men­t’s approval:

    Sat Oct 17, 2015 2:10pm EDT
    VW made sev­er­al defeat devices to cheat emis­sions tests: sources

    BERLIN/LOS ANGELES/DETROIT | By Andreas Cre­mer, Bruce Wal­lace and Paul Lienert

    Volk­swa­gen made sev­er­al ver­sions of its “defeat device” soft­ware to rig diesel emis­sions tests, three peo­ple famil­iar with the mat­ter told Reuters, poten­tial­ly sug­gest­ing a com­plex decep­tion by the Ger­man car­mak­er.

    Dur­ing sev­en years of self-con­fessed cheat­ing, Volk­swa­gen altered its ille­gal soft­ware for four engine types, said the sources, who include a VW man­ag­er with knowl­edge of the mat­ter and a U.S. offi­cial close to an inves­ti­ga­tion into the com­pa­ny.

    Spokesper­sons for VW in Europe and the Unit­ed States declined to com­ment on whether it devel­oped mul­ti­ple defeat devices, cit­ing ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tions by the com­pa­ny and author­i­ties in both regions.

    Asked about the num­ber of peo­ple who might have known about the cheat­ing, a spokesman at com­pa­ny head­quar­ters in Wolfs­burg, Ger­many, said: “We are work­ing intense­ly to inves­ti­gate who knew what and when, but it’s far too ear­ly to tell.”

    Some indus­try experts and ana­lysts said sev­er­al ver­sions of the defeat device raised the pos­si­bil­i­ty that a range of employ­ees were involved. Soft­ware tech­ni­cians would have need­ed reg­u­lar fund­ing and knowl­edge of engine pro­grams, they said.

    The num­ber of peo­ple involved is a key issue for investors because it could affect the size of poten­tial fines and the extent of man­age­ment change at the com­pa­ny, said Arndt Elling­horst, an ana­lyst at bank­ing advi­so­ry firm Ever­core ISI.

    Bran­don Gar­rett, a cor­po­rate crime expert at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Vir­ginia School of Law, said fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tion guide­lines would call for the U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment to seek tougher penal­ties if numer­ous senior exec­u­tives were found to have been involved in the cheat­ing.

    “The more high­er-ups that are involved, the more the com­pa­ny is con­sid­ered blame­wor­thy and deserv­ing of more seri­ous pun­ish­ment,” said Gar­rett.

    VW, Europe’s biggest car­mak­er, has been crit­i­cized by some law­mak­ers and ana­lysts for blam­ing a small num­ber of indi­vid­u­als for the banned soft­ware installed in up to 11 mil­lion vehi­cles world­wide, even while inves­ti­ga­tions con­tin­ue.

    Its U.S. chief, Michael Horn, told U.S. law­mak­ers ear­li­er this month that he believed “a cou­ple of soft­ware engi­neers” were respon­si­ble, while a let­ter dat­ed Oct. 8 from VW to the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment blamed “the mis­con­duct of a few peo­ple.”

    MANY CHANGES

    ...

    When it start­ed using defeat device soft­ware in 2008, VW installed it with the EA189 diesel engine. The soft­ware was sub­se­quent­ly added to the new­er EA288 engine.

    “VW would have had to recon­fig­ure the soft­ware for each gen­er­a­tion of engines,” said the U.S. offi­cial close to an ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into VW.

    A U.S.-based expert on diesel engines and test­ing said the defeat device soft­ware also had to be altered when VW changed the emis­sions con­trol sys­tem in its engines.

    In old­er diesel mod­els, VW used so-called Lean NOx Traps designed to reduce tox­ic nitro­gen oxides in engine exhaust. From around 2012, it intro­duced a more sophis­ti­cat­ed and expen­sive sys­tem called Selec­tive Cat­alyt­ic Reduc­tion.

    VW’s Horn told U.S. law­mak­ers on Oct. 8 that dif­fer­ent soft­ware was devel­oped for Europe as well.

    “Since the stan­dards are dif­fer­ent, my under­stand­ing is that the defeat devices in those (Euro­pean) cars are as well,” he said, with­out elab­o­rat­ing.

    Horn added VW was with­draw­ing its appli­ca­tion for reg­u­la­to­ry cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of 2016 diesel mod­els because it con­tained anoth­er soft­ware fea­ture that had not been dis­closed as required by the author­i­ties.

    “Horn added VW was with­draw­ing its appli­ca­tion for reg­u­la­to­ry cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of 2016 diesel mod­els because it con­tained anoth­er soft­ware fea­ture that had not been dis­closed as required by the author­i­ties.”
    Wow, those rogue VW coders that man­age­ment total­ly knew noth­ing about sure were busy! *wink*

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 19, 2015, 12:40 pm
  15. I kind of assumed VW is an asset/extension of the Ger­man Gov­ern­ment and Under­ground Reich. Why did they get caught? Aren’t we used to these folks get­ting away with bloody mur­der?

    Posted by GK | October 20, 2015, 3:52 pm
  16. A file with doc­u­ments con­tain­ing a Low­er Sax­ony offi­cial’s cor­re­spon­dences in con­nec­tion with the VW emis­sions scan­dal dis­ap­peared recent­ly and author­i­ties are now look­ing into the mat­ter. We’re being assured that the file con­tained no secret VW and it’s being depict­ed as most­ly just frus­trat­ing but not seri­ous. But con­sid­er­ing that Low­er Sax­ony holds about 20% of VW’s vot­ing stock, with spe­cial vot­ing rights, and con­sid­er­ing that the file is also said to con­tain the offi­cial’s inter­nal com­ments on legal ques­tions, it seems like this could be described as more than just frus­trat­ing:

    The Wall Street Jour­nal

    Ger­man Author­i­ties Inves­ti­gat­ing Miss­ing VW Emis­sions Scan­dal File
    Unclear what doc­u­ments were in the file and if they con­sti­tute evi­dence

    By William Boston and
    Hen­drik Varn­holt
    Updat­ed Oct. 21, 2015 12:14 p.m. ET

    Ger­man author­i­ties are inves­ti­gat­ing the pos­si­ble theft of doc­u­ments relat­ed to the Volk­swa­gen AG emis­sions scan­dal from a state gov­ern­ment office, offi­cials said Wednes­day.

    The miss­ing doc­u­ments belonged to a depart­ment chief in the Low­er Sax­ony state government’s office, accord­ing to a state­ment by the state gov­ern­ment.

    It is unclear which doc­u­ments were in the file and whether they con­sti­tute evi­dence in a probe into Volkswagen’s emis­sions cheat­ing scan­dal.

    The state said the doc­u­ments were the official’s cor­re­spon­dence in con­nec­tion with the case and con­tained no secret Volk­swa­gen doc­u­ments.

    “There were exclu­sive­ly print outs and copies of doc­u­ments in the per­son­al file, most of which are avail­able on the Inter­net, as well as inter­nal com­ments on legal ques­tions,” the state government’s office said in a state­ment. The file con­tained “no super­vi­so­ry board files” and so “the loss of this per­son­al file is frus­trat­ing, but not a very seri­ous prob­lem,” the state­ment said.

    Volk­swa­gen last month admit­ted to hav­ing installed devices in diesel engines of up to 11 mil­lion cars that could help the vehi­cles meet tight emis­sions tests while pol­lut­ing more heav­i­ly in actu­al use.

    ...

    Low­er Sax­ony, where Volk­swa­gen is based, is a core share­hold­er in the com­pa­ny. It holds about 20% of Volkswagen’s vot­ing stock and spe­cial rights to pre­vent it from being out­vot­ed. The state holds two seats on Volkswagen’s super­vi­so­ry board and is rep­re­sent­ed on the board by state Prime Min­is­ter Stephan Weil and Econ­o­my Min­is­ter Olaf Lies.

    The depart­ment chief last saw the file on Fri­day, Oct. 9, and report­ed it miss­ing the fol­low­ing Mon­day, Oct. 12, accord­ing to the state­ment. Four days lat­er, on Oct. 16, the state gov­ern­ment filed a com­plaint with the Low­er Sax­ony State Crim­i­nal Office, request­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion into a poten­tial theft of state doc­u­ments by an unknown per­son or per­sons.

    “We have tak­en up the inves­ti­ga­tion,” said Frank Fed­er­au, a spokesman for the Low­er Sax­ony inves­ti­ga­tors, declin­ing to com­ment fur­ther.

    A spokes­woman for the prosecutor’s office in Han­nover, the cap­i­tal of Low­er Sax­ony, said no one had yet been charged in the case and declined to com­ment on the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    “So far, we have no con­crete sus­pects,” said Kathrin Söfk­er, a Han­nover state pros­e­cu­tor.

    Well, we’ll see if the doc­u­ments ever turn up although it seems like they may have made a trip to the paper shred­der by now.

    In tan­gen­tial­ly relat­ed news, if you’ve recent­ly stolen a bunch of con­fi­den­tial doc­u­ments about an emis­sions fraud scan­dal, ran them through a paper shred­der, but then acci­den­tal­ly dumped all those shreds on the floor and need to vac­u­um them up, your new ener­gy-effi­cient vac­u­um clean­er might have a bit of a ‘VW’ prob­lem:

    The Tele­graph
    James Dyson accus­es Bosch of cheat­ing ‘like Volk­swa­gen’
    The Dyson boss has filed legal pro­ceed­ings against its Ger­man rival

    By Rebec­ca Burn-Callan­der, Enter­prise Edi­tor

    12:01AM BST 21 Oct 2015

    Sir James Dyson has claimed Bosch are the Volk­swa­gen of the vac­u­um clean­er world as he launched legal action against his Ger­man engi­neer­ing rival.

    The inven­tor of the bag­less vac­u­um clean­er alleged that Bosch is dup­ing con­sumers with mis­lead­ing ener­gy-effi­cien­cy rat­ings for its machines.

    “Bosch has installed con­trol elec­tron­ics into some of its machines to wrong­ful­ly increase ener­gy con­sump­tion when in use – to cheat the EU ener­gy label,” Sir James said. “Their behav­iour is akin to that seen in the Volk­swa­gen scan­dal.

    “It seems that indus­try is rife with man­u­fac­tur­ers engi­neer­ing to find their way around tests, rather than engi­neer­ing bet­ter, more effi­cient tech­nol­o­gy. This behav­iour is seri­ous­ly mis­lead­ing cus­tomers.”

    Sir James has alleged that the AAAA ener­gy rat­ing achieved by some of Bosch’s vac­u­um clean­er mod­els was achieved dur­ing lab tests with a clean bag in use. But sen­sors with­in the vac­u­um clean­er tell the motor to increase ener­gy use from 750W to 1,600W when the bag is full of dirt to main­tain per­for­mance, which reduces the ener­gy rat­ing to an E or F.

    These find­ings came to light dur­ing inde­pen­dent lab­o­ra­to­ry test­ing, accord­ing to Sir James.

    It may be, how­ev­er, that the EU test method­ol­o­gy is flawed rather than there being wrong­ful action by Bosch. There is a long­stand­ing rival­ry between the two man­u­fac­tur­ers. In 2012, Sir James sued Bosch for alleged­ly pay­ing a Dyson employ­ee to steal secrets from the company’s Malmes­bury base.

    Bosch has denied that its appli­ances per­form dif­fer­ent­ly at home and under lab con­di­tions, say­ing that “any sug­ges­tion to the con­trary is gross­ly mis­lead­ing”.

    “We do not under­stand these asser­tions by Dyson and we stren­u­ous­ly reject them,” the com­pa­ny said, adding that it was “com­mit­ted to full dis­clo­sure on the ener­gy rat­ings and broad­er per­for­mance of our vac­u­um clean­ers”.

    “Bosch has cap­i­talised on the EU reg­u­la­tions which per­mit that a machine is only test­ed in an emp­ty state,” Dyson, the com­pa­ny, said in a state­ment. “Con­sumers pur­chas­ing these machines on the basis of their wide­ly adver­tised stat­ed AAAA rat­ing are being mis­led.”

    Dyson has tak­en legal action over the Bosch machines — issu­ing pro­ceed­ings in Ger­many, Bel­gium and the Nether­lands. If Dyson’s legal chal­lenge is suc­cess­ful, cer­tain mod­els of Bosch vac­u­um clean­er may need to be recalled.

    Sir James has pre­vi­ous­ly stat­ed that the new EU Ener­gy Label reg­u­la­tions launched in 2013, which pro­duce the ener­gy rat­ings, are fun­da­men­tal­ly flawed.

    His com­pa­ny is cur­rent­ly chal­leng­ing the reg­u­la­to­ry process through a judi­cial review, demand­ing that machines are test­ed under “real world con­di­tions”. That rul­ing is expect­ed by the end of the year.

    ...

    Last month Sir James said that the world of reg­u­la­tion was “murky” and pro­vid­ed “a smoke­screen for man­u­fac­tur­ers to hide behind”.

    “[There are] fridges test­ed with no food, vac­u­um clean­ers test­ed with no dust, and wash­ing machines test­ed at inac­cu­rate tem­per­a­tures,” he claimed. “The reg­u­la­tors clear­ly live in a place that looks noth­ing like the real world and man­u­fac­tur­ers are tak­ing advan­tage.”

    Bosch sup­plied the engine con­trol sys­tems that VW used to install “defeat devices”, which embroiled the car mak­er in the diesels emis­sions-rig­ging scan­dal.

    “Bosch sup­plied the engine con­trol sys­tems that VW used to install “defeat devices”, which embroiled the car mak­er in the diesels emis­sions-rig­ging scan­dal.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 21, 2015, 2:48 pm
  17. This should be inter­est­ing: VW just warned that its emis­sions scan­dal, which had been lim­it­ed to vehi­cles using the EA 189 engine, might include its new­er EA 288 engine too:

    The New York Times
    Volk­swa­gen Inves­ti­gat­ing if Diesel Emis­sions Decep­tion Was More Exten­sive

    By JACK EWING
    OCT. 22, 2015

    FRANKFURT — Volk­swa­gen said on Thurs­day that it was inves­ti­gat­ing whether sub­stan­tial­ly more vehi­cles than pre­vi­ous­ly dis­closed were equipped with soft­ware intend­ed to deceive emis­sions tests, rais­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty of even greater dam­age to the company’s rep­u­ta­tion and finances.

    The automak­er admit­ted last month that 11 mil­lion cars and light com­mer­cial vehi­cles equipped with a diesel motor line known as the EA 189 had the ille­gal soft­ware. On Thurs­day, Volk­swa­gen said it was inves­ti­gat­ing whether some ver­sions of anoth­er diesel motor line, known as the EA 288, also had soft­ware intend­ed to detect when a vehi­cle was under­go­ing emis­sions test­ing and turn on pol­lu­tion con­trols.

    Under nor­mal road use, the EA 189 vehi­cles, which includ­ed pop­u­lar mod­els like the Pas­sat, Jet­ta, Bee­tle and Golf, could emit up to 40 times the allowed amount of nitro­gen oxide, a pol­lu­tant linked to numer­ous lung ail­ments.

    A Volk­swa­gen spokesman would not com­ment on how many more cars might be affect­ed. Since 2012, the EA 288 has been installed in vehi­cles like the best-sell­ing Golf, sug­gest­ing that the num­ber of addi­tion­al cars could be in the mil­lions. The EA 288 was also installed in cars sold in the Unit­ed States.

    A com­pa­ny spokesman said that the newest ver­sions of the motor, which are cer­ti­fied accord­ing to the lat­est Euro­pean diesel emis­sions stan­dard, are com­pli­ant with emis­sions rules and do not have ille­gal soft­ware.

    Under pres­sure from Ger­man author­i­ties, Volk­swa­gen is recall­ing about 8.5 mil­lion Euro­pean vehi­cles with the EA 189 motor to bring them into com­pli­ance with emis­sions reg­u­la­tions. Volk­swa­gen has also promised to fix about 500,000 diesel cars in the Unit­ed States.

    Matthias Müller, the Volk­swa­gen chief exec­u­tive, said this month that the cost of repair­ing the vehi­cles would far exceed the 6.5 bil­lion euros, or about $7.4 bil­lion, the com­pa­ny ini­tial­ly allo­cat­ed for recalls. If many more vehi­cles are affect­ed, the expense to Volk­swa­gen could rise sig­nif­i­cant­ly.

    Not only would Volk­swa­gen have to repair more cars, but it would also face more law­suits from cus­tomers whose vehi­cles have lost val­ue, or who con­tend that they were sold cars under false premis­es. Volk­swa­gen mar­ket­ed its “clean diesel” vehi­cles as an envi­ron­men­tal­ly respon­si­ble choice for buy­ers who also want­ed pep­pi­er per­for­mance than they would get from a hybrid com­peti­tor, like the Toy­ota Prius.

    On Wednes­day, Volk­swa­gen said it had halt­ed the sale of what it called a lim­it­ed num­ber of new cars with EA 189 motors from 2015 or ear­li­er that were already at deal­er­ships but had not been sold.

    A 2‑liter, four-cylin­der ver­sion of the EA 288 was installed in Golf, Jet­ta and Pas­sat cars sold in the Unit­ed States begin­ning in 2012, accord­ing to an arti­cle on the web­site of Car and Dri­ver mag­a­zine. The motor was more pow­er­ful than the EA 189, the mag­a­zine said, and treat­ed emis­sions part­ly by recy­cling some exhaust gas­es into the motor. In addi­tion, like the EA 189, the motor had a sys­tem to inject the chem­i­cal urea into the exhaust, which if designed prop­er­ly could neu­tral­ize most of the nitro­gen oxide emis­sions.

    In treat­ing some emis­sions by recy­cling them, the engine would have placed less of a bur­den on the chem­i­cal sys­tem, and own­ers would not have had to refill a urea sup­ply tank as often. But the recy­cling sys­tem can also hurt accel­er­a­tion and fuel econ­o­my. Volk­swa­gen could have been moti­vat­ed to dial back the pol­lu­tion con­trols, except dur­ing test­ing, to give dri­vers bet­ter fuel con­sump­tion and per­for­mance, engi­neers out­side the com­pa­ny have said.

    In Inter­net forums, Volk­swa­gen dri­vers often report­ed bet­ter fuel per­for­mance than in offi­cial gov­ern­ment rat­ings.

    EA stands for “entwick­lungsauf­trag,” or “devel­op­ment order,” and sig­ni­fied a major new engine line. Volk­swa­gen deploys its engines and oth­er com­po­nents not only in Volk­swa­gen cars, but also in oth­er brands belong­ing to the com­pa­ny, like Audi or Sko­da. The strat­e­gy saves mon­ey because costs of devel­op­ment and pro­duc­tion are spread across a large num­ber of vehi­cles. But it means that any prob­lems infect a large num­ber of vehi­cles.

    ...

    Volk­swa­gen has sus­pend­ed five high-rank­ing exec­u­tives in con­nec­tion with the scan­dal. Mr. Müller has said that a small num­ber of employ­ees were respon­si­ble for the ille­gal soft­ware.

    Deter­min­ing how many peo­ple were in the know is one of the main goals of an inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tion being con­duct­ed by Jones Day, an Amer­i­can law firm with offices in Ger­many. The inves­ti­ga­tion is still in its ear­ly phas­es and it is not clear how many man­agers, engi­neers and oth­ers may even­tu­al­ly be impli­cat­ed, but the num­ber is expect­ed to rise.

    At the very least, employ­ees with knowl­edge of soft­ware cod­ing would have to have been involved in order to pro­gram the motors to cheat.

    So that was the ear­li­er report. But now we’re hear­ing that VW has com­plet­ed its inves­ti­ga­tions and found no prob­lems with the EA 288:

    Bloomberg Busi­ness
    Volk­swa­gen Says Recall Will Be Lim­it­ed to Old­er Diesel Engines
    Christoph Rauwald

    Octo­ber 22, 2015 — 10:33 AM CDT

    Volk­swa­gen AG said its cur­rent-gen­er­a­tion diesel engine doesn’t have soft­ware designed to cheat on emis­sions tests, mean­ing its glob­al recall of as many as 11 mil­lion cars won’t need to be even big­ger.

    Diesel cars with EA 288 motors meet legal and envi­ron­men­tal require­ments, the Wolfs­burg, Ger­many-based com­pa­ny said Thurs­day in an e‑mailed state­ment. The EA 288 replaced the EA 189 class of engines impli­cat­ed in the emis­sions scan­dal.

    Volk­swa­gen had said ear­li­er Thurs­day that it was exam­in­ing whether oth­er diesel engines have soft­ware that cheat­ed emis­sions tests by turn­ing on full pol­lu­tion fil­ters only when cars were being test­ed. The com­pa­ny is recall­ing 8.5 mil­lion vehi­cles in Europe alone, poten­tial­ly one of the most com­plex and cost­ly fix­es in auto­mo­tive his­to­ry.

    “After a thor­ough review it is now clear” that the offend­ing soft­ware isn’t installed in vehi­cles with EA 288 motors built under pre­vi­ous Euro‑5 stan­dards, Volk­swa­gen said. The car­mak­er has con­sis­tent­ly said its lat­est, Euro‑6 diesel engine com­plies with Euro­pean reg­u­la­tions.

    Well, that’s good news. For pret­ty much every­one. But it does raise an inter­est­ing ques­tion: since the EA 288 engines were sup­posed to replace the EA 189 engines but don’t have the mali­cious soft­ware installed, why haven’t there been ear­li­er reports of sig­nif­i­cant per­for­mance dif­fer­ence between the EA 189 and EA 288 vehi­cles? Was the EA 288 such a big improve­ment over the EA 189 that it real­ly was the low-pol­lu­tion/high mileage engine VW claimed it was sell­ing? If not, what’s the expla­na­tion?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 22, 2015, 9:40 am
  18. The VW emis­sions scan­dal just had a new twist. The EPA announced that it has dis­cov­ered emis­sions-cheat­ing soft­ware on more diesel cars. This time it includes vehi­cles from VW, Audi, and Porche with 3.0 liter engines. The report describes in detail the mech­a­nisms of how the soft­ware does its cheat­ing. And here’s the twist: VW denies it:

    The New York Times
    E.P.A. Finds More VW Cheat­ing Soft­ware, Includ­ing in a Porsche

    By JAD MOUAWAD
    NOV. 2, 2015

    The Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency said on Mon­day that it had dis­cov­ered emis­sions-cheat­ing soft­ware on more Volk­swa­gen and Audi cars than pre­vi­ous­ly dis­closed and, for the first time, also found the ille­gal soft­ware in one of the carmaker’s high-end Porsche mod­els.

    The Ger­man car­mak­er dis­put­ed the claims, how­ev­er, say­ing it had not installed defeat soft­ware on the mod­els in ques­tion that would “alter emis­sions char­ac­ter­is­tics in a for­bid­den man­ner.” The com­pa­ny pledged in a short state­ment that it would coop­er­ate with the E.P.A. “to clar­i­fy the mat­ter in its entire­ty.”

    ...

    The new rev­e­la­tions esca­late the poten­tial dam­age to Volkswagen’s finances and rep­u­ta­tion. Audi and Porsche are the source of most of the company’s earn­ings, because prof­it mar­gins tend to be high­er on lux­u­ry cars. In con­trast to Volk­swa­gen brand cars, which have strug­gled in the Unit­ed States, Audi and Porsche are suc­cess sto­ries in North Amer­i­ca, which is the biggest mar­ket for Porsche.

    The E.P.A.’s report opens a new chap­ter in its inves­ti­ga­tion of Volkswagen’s deceit­ful prac­tice. The new devices were uncov­ered after inves­ti­ga­tors said on Sept. 25 that they would test all diesel car mod­els, a week after dis­clos­ing Volkswagen’s fraud. The tests were per­formed by E.P.A., the Cal­i­for­nia Air Resources Board and the reg­u­la­to­ry group Envi­ron­ment Cana­da.

    “VW has once again failed its oblig­a­tion to com­ply with the law that pro­tects clean air for all Amer­i­cans,” Cyn­thia Giles, the assis­tant admin­is­tra­tor for E.P.A.’s Office of Enforce­ment and Com­pli­ance Assur­ance, said in a state­ment.

    Reg­u­la­tors have not found sim­i­lar defeat devices on diesel mod­els pro­duced by oth­er automak­ers. Test­ing is con­tin­u­ing, and the agency plans to make its final results pub­lic.

    Hours after the E.P.A. made its lat­est accu­sa­tions, Volk­swa­gen dis­put­ed the find­ings. “Volk­swa­gen AG wish­es to empha­size that no soft­ware has been installed in the 3‑liter V6 diesel pow­er units to alter emis­sions char­ac­ter­is­tics in a for­bid­den man­ner,” Volkswagen’s state­ment read.

    But in a six-page let­ter explain­ing its find­ings, the E.P.A. described in detail a mech­a­nism it says was set up to inten­tion­al­ly beat emis­sions test­ing. It said the devices were not described in the vehi­cles’ cer­ti­fi­ca­tion appli­ca­tion and were set up to defeat a fed­er­al emis­sion test pro­ce­dure known as FTP 75.

    The agency said the new tests found that Volk­swa­gen had installed the devices in some Volk­swa­gen, Audi and Porsche diesel cars with 3.0‑liter engines, encom­pass­ing mod­el years 2014 through 2016.

    The notice described how once the vehicle’s elec­tron­ic brain detect­ed the cars were being test­ed, it would direct the car to oper­ate emis­sion con­trol para­me­ters — includ­ing injec­tion tim­ing, exhaust gas recir­cu­la­tion rate and fuel pres­sure — to reduce nitro­gen oxide emis­sions. Once back in nor­mal dri­ving con­di­tions, the car would increase the release of nitro­gen oxide up to nine times the agency’s stan­dard.

    Asked about Volkswagen’s state­ment chal­leng­ing the E.P.A.’s claims, a spokes­woman for the agency reit­er­at­ed that the undis­closed exis­tence and use of devices meant to cir­cum­vent emis­sion con­trols was ille­gal under the Clean Air Act.

    The lat­est find­ing cov­ers about 10,000 pas­sen­ger cars already sold in the Unit­ed States since the mod­el year 2014. The vio­la­tion notice also cov­ers an unspec­i­fied num­ber of 2016 vehi­cles. The cars found to have the soft­ware installed 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.

    In a sep­a­rate notice from California’s Air Resources Board, which also has broad author­i­ty to reg­u­late emis­sions, reg­u­la­tors there backed the find­ings from the E.P.A. “ARB is very dis­ap­point­ed with this devel­op­ment as VW (along with all the oth­er man­u­fac­tur­ers) was alert­ed on Sep­tem­ber 25, 2015, that A.R.B. would be imme­di­ate­ly con­duct­ing defeat device test­ing,” the Cal­i­for­nia reg­u­la­tor said in its notice to Volk­swa­gen.

    Until now, inves­ti­ga­tors in the Unit­ed States and Europe had focused on 2.0‑liter engines and small­er mod­els. Volk­swa­gen has admit­ted that more than 11 mil­lion cars were equipped with this fraud­u­lent soft­ware, includ­ing 482,000 in the Unit­ed States.

    The lat­est devel­op­ment has left many observers stunned. Con­gres­sion­al inves­ti­ga­tors indi­cat­ed they would con­tin­ue pres­sur­ing VW for answers.

    “The lat­est rev­e­la­tions raise the ques­tion, where does VW’s road of deceit end?” senior lead­ers of the House Ener­gy and Com­merce Com­mit­tee said in a joint state­ment. “It’s time for Volk­swa­gen to ful­ly come clean.”

    ...

    Note the pars­ing in VW’s denials: “Volk­swa­gen AG wish­es to empha­size that no soft­ware has been installed in the 3‑liter V6 diesel pow­er units to alter emis­sions char­ac­ter­is­tics in a for­bid­den man­ner.”

    It rais­es the ques­tion: Will VW attempt to argue that these “defeat devices” do exist, but were actu­al­ly legal? If so, keep in mind that it won’t be an argu­ment with­out numer­ous prece­dents.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 2, 2015, 8:35 pm
  19. Ouch. VW just issued a new “oop­sie” report about anoth­er 800,000 cars that may have emis­sions “incon­sis­ten­cies” for CO2. And this time it includes a non-diesel engine too:

    Reuters
    VW sees 800,000 more cars affect­ed by ‘incon­sis­ten­cies’

    BERLIN/FRANKFURT | By Andreas Cre­mer and Georgina Prod­han
    Tue Nov 3, 2015 2:56pm EST

    Volk­swa­gen (VOWG_p.DE) said on Tues­day it found data “incon­sis­ten­cies” on car­bon diox­ide emis­sions for 800,000 more cars, the lat­est sign of trou­ble for Europe’s biggest automak­er, already reel­ing from an emis­sions scan­dal.

    Volk­swa­gen said it faces about 2 bil­lion euros ($2.19 bil­lion) in eco­nom­ic risks from the new­ly dis­closed issue, which most­ly affects small diesel engines and one gaso­line one. They are unre­lat­ed to U.S. reg­u­la­tors’ alle­ga­tions on Mon­day that larg­er diesel engines most­ly used in Porsche and Audi sports util­i­ty vehi­cles were designed to cheat emis­sions tests.

    The car­mak­er said it would imme­di­ate­ly start talk­ing to “respon­si­ble author­i­ties” about what to do about the lat­est find­ings.

    “From the very start I have pushed hard for the relent­less and com­pre­hen­sive clar­i­fi­ca­tion of events,” Volk­swa­gen Chief Exec­u­tive Matthias Mueller said in a state­ment. “We will stop at noth­ing and nobody. This is a painful process but it is our only alter­na­tive.”

    Europe’s largest car­mak­er had pre­vi­ous­ly admit­ted to installing cheat soft­ware on up to 11 mil­lion vehi­cles world­wide with 2.0 liter diesel engines. But the lat­est alle­ga­tions from U.S. reg­u­la­tors and the automak­er itself sug­gest that both larg­er and small­er motors and even non-diesel ones may have deceived reg­u­la­tors.

    “VW is leav­ing us all speech­less,” said Arndt Elling­horst of bank­ing advi­so­ry firm Ever­core ISI after the dis­clo­sure about the small­er engines. “It seems to us that this is anoth­er issue trig­gered by VW’s inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tion and poten­tial­ly relat­ed to Europe.”

    VW has so far denied alle­ga­tions regard­ing the larg­er 3.0 liter diesel engines made by the U.S. Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Author­i­ty (EPA), say­ing no soft­ware had been installed to “alter emis­sions’ char­ac­ter­is­tics in a for­bid­den man­ner” on the larg­er engines. It did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to ques­tions on Tues­day, say­ing it would only cor­re­spond in writ­ing.

    The biggest busi­ness cri­sis in VW’s 78-year his­to­ry has wiped as much as a third off its stock mar­ket val­ue, forced out long-time CEO Mar­tin Win­terko­rn and rocked the auto indus­try — a key employ­er and source of export income in Ger­many.

    “Volk­swa­gen has done a dis­ser­vice to Ger­man indus­try,” Ulrich Gril­lo, the head of the Fed­er­a­tion of Ger­man indus­tries, told a con­fer­ence on Tues­day, adding the firm had an oblig­a­tion to the whole indus­try to clear up the scan­dal quick­ly.
    Relat­ed Cov­er­age

    Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Angela Merkel and the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the Euro­pean Union’s exec­u­tive body, called for clar­i­ty and trans­paren­cy to clean up the scan­dal.

    VW’s super­vi­so­ry board will hold a spe­cial meet­ing Mon­day to dis­cuss the finan­cial impli­ca­tions of the scan­dal, two sources with knowl­edge of the mat­ter told Reuters.

    The com­pa­ny took a 6.7 bil­lion euro hit in third-quar­ter results to cov­er ini­tial costs relat­ed to the scan­dal. Some ana­lysts have said the final bill could reach as much as 35 bil­lion euros in reg­u­la­to­ry fines, law­suits and vehi­cle refits.

    VW shares fell 1.5 per­cent to close at 111 euros. The VW state­ment about the addi­tion­al 800,000 cars with emis­sions issues came out after the Frank­furt mar­ket had closed.

    ...

    Audi said on Tues­day it had not installed defeat devices in its 3 liter V6 diesel engines and is aim­ing to meet with Cal­i­for­nia reg­u­la­tors in the next week to explain its posi­tion as well as how the soft­ware works. Seek­ing belat­ed autho­riza­tion of the soft­ware could be one option to try to solve the mat­ter, the spokesman said.

    “It would cause the biggest pos­si­ble shock to VW if those accu­sa­tions are true,” said Ste­fan Bratzel, head of the Cen­ter of Auto­mo­tive Man­age­ment think-tank near Cologne.

    “VW keeps tout­ing utmost trans­paren­cy but they real­ly should have put all the cards on the table. There is a lot of need for expla­na­tion, from Audi too.”

    Rival Ger­man car­mak­er BMW (BMWG.DE) reit­er­at­ed on Tues­day it had not manip­u­lat­ed emis­sions tests, as it post­ed a sur­prise rise in third-quar­ter oper­at­ing prof­it.

    Keep in mind that, should the VW scan­dal expand beyond diesel engine emis­sions cheat­ing and start includ­ing CO2 emis­sion “incon­sis­ten­cies” involv­ing gas engine, this could expand the scan­dal to include not just VW’s entire pas­sen­ger vehi­cle fleet but pret­ty much the entire glob­al auto indus­try since emis­sions cheat­ing of one degree or anoth­er is so ubiq­ui­tous. So in terms of “fram­ing” this scan­dal, expand­ing it beyond diesel emis­sions to include the inac­cu­ra­cies in CO2 emis­sions from all cars might actu­al­ly be a stroke of PR genius because it won’t just be VW every­one is talk­ing about. And help­ful too, so let’s hope VW starts point­ing fin­gers else­where and goes into “there’s a pox on your house too!”-mode. That could be fun.

    But let’s also hope that VW is less suc­cess­ful in the oth­er strat­e­gy that Audi appears to be mulling over: retroac­tive­ly legal­iz­ing these “defeat devices”:

    ...
    Audi said on Tues­day it had not installed defeat devices in its 3 liter V6 diesel engines and is aim­ing to meet with Cal­i­for­nia reg­u­la­tors in the next week to explain its posi­tion as well as how the soft­ware works. Seek­ing belat­ed autho­riza­tion of the soft­ware could be one option to try to solve the mat­ter, the spokesman said.
    ...

    “Seek­ing belat­ed autho­riza­tion of the soft­ware could be one option to try to solve the mat­ter, the spokesman said.”
    Just legal­ized the “defeat devices”! Well, that’s one option. It’s not the best option, but it’s appar­ent­ly an option.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 3, 2015, 3:44 pm
  20. VW issued an update on the mys­tery of the new “defeat devices” dis­cov­ered in its 3.0 liter diesel engine that VW pre­vi­ous­ly claimed were not ille­gal. And it turns out VW may have been par­tial­ly cor­rect. VW now admits that there were indeed “defeat device” installed that it did­n’t tell US reg­u­la­tor about them, but the devices aren’t actu­al­ly ille­gal. In Europe:

    The Asso­ci­at­ed Press
    Volk­swa­gen’s Emis­sions Scan­dal Is Get­ting Even Big­ger
    More Volk­swa­gen, Audi and Porsche own­ers could face recalls of their cars.
    AP
    By Tom Krish­er and Michael Bieseck­er
    Post­ed: 11/20/2015 05:37 PM EST

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Volk­swa­gen’s emis­sions cheat­ing scan­dal widened Fri­day after the U.S. Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency said the Ger­man automak­er used soft­ware to cheat on pol­lu­tion tests on more six-cylin­der diesel vehi­cles than orig­i­nal­ly thought.

    Volk­swa­gen told the EPA and the Cal­i­for­nia Air Resources Board the soft­ware is on about 85,000 Volk­swa­gen, Audi and Porsche vehi­cles with 3‑liter engines going back to the 2009 mod­el year. Ear­li­er this month the reg­u­la­tors accused VW of installing the so-called “defeat device” soft­ware on about 10,000 cars from the 2014 through 2016 mod­el years, in vio­la­tion of the Clean Air Act.

    The reg­u­la­tors said in a state­ment they will inves­ti­gate and take appro­pri­ate action on the soft­ware, which they claim allowed the six-cylin­der diesels to emit few­er pol­lu­tants dur­ing tests than in real-world dri­ving.

    The lat­est alle­ga­tion means that more Volk­swa­gen, Audi and Porsche own­ers could face recalls of their cars to fix the soft­ware, and VW could face steep­er fines and more intense scruti­ny from U.S. reg­u­la­tors and law­mak­ers.

    Audi spokesman Brad Stertz on Fri­day con­ced­ed that VW nev­er told reg­u­la­tors about the soft­ware, in vio­la­tion of U.S. law. He said the com­pa­ny agreed with the agen­cies to repro­gram it “so that the reg­u­la­tors see it, under­stand it and approve it and feel com­fort­able with the way it’s per­form­ing.”

    The soft­ware is on Audi Q7 and Volk­swa­gen Touareg SUVs from the 2009 through 2016 mod­el years, as well as the Porsche Cayenne from 2013 to 2016. Also cov­ered are Audi A6, A7, A8, and Q5s from the 2014 to 2016 mod­el years, accord­ing to the EPA.

    Stertz said the soft­ware is legal in Europe and it’s not the same as a device that enabled four-cylin­der VW diesel engines to delib­er­ate­ly cheat on emis­sions tests. VW has told deal­ers not to sell any of the mod­els until the soft­ware is fixed.

    VW made the dis­clo­sure on a day it was meet­ing with the agen­cies about how it plans to fix 482,000 four-cylin­der diesel cars equipped with emis­sions-cheat­ing soft­ware.

    U.S. reg­u­la­tors con­tin­ue to tell own­ers of all the affect­ed cars they are safe to dri­ve, even as they emit nitro­gen oxide, a con­trib­u­tor to smog and res­pi­ra­to­ry prob­lems, in amounts that exceed EPA stan­dards — up to nine times above accept­ed lev­els in the six-cylin­der engines and up to 40 times in the four-cylin­ders.

    ...

    Well, that will indeed be help­ful if the “defeat device” is repro­grammed so US reg­u­la­tors can “see it, under­stand it and approve it and feel com­fort­able with the way it’s per­form­ing”:

    ...
    Audi spokesman Brad Stertz on Fri­day con­ced­ed that VW nev­er told reg­u­la­tors about the soft­ware, in vio­la­tion of U.S. law. He said the com­pa­ny agreed with the agen­cies to repro­gram it “so that the reg­u­la­tors see it, under­stand it and approve it and feel com­fort­able with the way it’s per­form­ing.”

    The soft­ware is on Audi Q7 and Volk­swa­gen Touareg SUVs from the 2009 through 2016 mod­el years, as well as the Porsche Cayenne from 2013 to 2016. Also cov­ered are Audi A6, A7, A8, and Q5s from the 2014 to 2016 mod­el years, accord­ing to the EPA.

    Stertz said the soft­ware is legal in Europe and it’s not the same as a device that enabled four-cylin­der VW diesel engines to delib­er­ate­ly cheat on emis­sions tests. VW has told deal­ers not to sell any of the mod­els until the soft­ware is fixed.
    ...

    And note that while the claims that “defeat devices” weren’t actu­al­ly ille­gal in Europe aren’t as absurd as they sound. Yes, the idea that “defeat devices” would be legal is pret­ty damn absurd. But the state­ment that they might be legal
    unfor­tu­nate­ly isn’t so absurd:

    The New York Times
    VW’s Emis­sions-Test Trick­ery May Not Be Ille­gal in Europe

    By DANNY HAKIM and CLAIRE BARTHELEMY

    NOV. 11, 2015

    LONDON — Four years ago, Euro­pean auto reg­u­la­tors iden­ti­fied and debat­ed a loop­hole in their pol­lu­tion test­ing rules that could ren­der vehi­cle emis­sions tests inef­fec­tu­al, but it was ulti­mate­ly left in place, inter­nal doc­u­ments show.

    The loop­hole lets car­mak­ers change the per­for­mance set­tings of their engines before a pol­lu­tion test. “A man­u­fac­tur­er could spec­i­fy a spe­cial set­ting that is not nor­mal­ly used for every­day dri­ving,” British reg­u­la­tors warned, accord­ing to min­utes of a 2011 meet­ing in Gene­va of offi­cials across the region.

    The debate throws new light on Volk­swa­gen’s cost­ly emis­sions cheat­ing — par­tic­u­lar­ly the ques­tion of whether VW vio­lat­ed Euro­pean test­ing rules.

    In Sep­tem­ber, Volk­swa­gen admit­ted to installing “defeat device” soft­ware in 11 mil­lion cars, pro­gram­ming them to detect when they were being test­ed for nitro­gen oxide emis­sions. The result was a sub­stan­tial reduc­tion in emis­sions. Volk­swa­gen made the admis­sion, after deceiv­ing reg­u­la­tors in the Unit­ed States for sev­er­al months, in the face of an inquiry.

    But the same prac­tice may be legal in Europe. While defeat devices are osten­si­bly banned in Europe as well as the Unit­ed States, Paul Willis, a top Volk­swa­gen offi­cial in Europe, said in a let­ter pub­lished this week that the com­pa­ny was still con­sid­er­ing “whether the soft­ware in ques­tion offi­cial­ly con­sti­tut­ed a defeat device” under Euro­pean Union reg­u­la­tions.

    And Lucia Caudet, a spokes­woman for the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, the Euro­pean Union’s exec­u­tive branch, said in an email that the com­mis­sion had “no for­mal view on whether” the vehi­cles sold in the Unit­ed States were “equipped with a ‘defeat device’ in the E.U. legal sense or not.” She added that inves­ti­ga­tions of vehi­cles sold in Europe “are still ongo­ing, so we can­not pro­vide an assess­ment on the nature of the devices used at this stage.”

    The Volk­swa­gen scan­dal has put Europe’s per­mis­sive test­ing prac­tices in the spot­light, and has raised ques­tions about the com­pat­i­bil­i­ty of Amer­i­can and Euro­pean auto reg­u­la­tions. Trans-Atlantic trade talks are under­way, and the objec­tives include fos­ter­ing mutu­al recog­ni­tion of auto reg­u­la­tions.

    Reg­u­la­tions that apply in Europe say “the set­tings of the engine and of the vehicle’s con­trols shall be those pre­scribed by the man­u­fac­tur­er.”

    If man­u­fac­tur­ers have the dis­cre­tion to deter­mine their own engine set­tings dur­ing emis­sions tests in Europe, it remains unclear if using soft­ware to alter engine set­tings would vio­late Euro­pean rules.

    Most of the rough­ly 11 mil­lion vehi­cles that Volk­swa­gen has said car­ry the soft­ware are in Europe. About 500,000 vehi­cles are in the Unit­ed States, and oth­ers are scat­tered across the globe.

    Bil­lions of dol­lars could hinge on whether the company’s emis­sions soft­ware was tech­ni­cal­ly a defeat device in Europe. Penal­ties for use of the devices are left to mem­ber states, though enforce­ment by auto reg­u­la­tors in Europe is rare.

    The answer could also weigh on lit­i­ga­tion. David Stan­dard, a spokesman for Leigh Day, a prod­uct lia­bil­i­ty law firm based in Lon­don, said the firm had tak­en in more than 8,000 poten­tial Volk­swa­gen-relat­ed claims and VW “could be look­ing at the largest-ever con­sumer legal action in U.K. his­to­ry.”

    Volk­swa­gen has com­mit­ted itself to fix­ing the vehi­cles. In Britain, one of the company’s largest mar­kets, VW says it will fix all of the affect­ed vehi­cles by the end of 2016. Some may require mod­i­fi­ca­tions beyond rewrit­ing soft­ware code.

    Many reg­u­la­tors and pub­lic offi­cials in Europe were hes­i­tant to dis­cuss how the sys­tem worked in Europe, and offered con­flict­ing accounts of what hap­pened after the British pro­posed to tight­en the engine-set­tings reg­u­la­tions in 2011.

    Dif­fer­ent engine con­fig­u­ra­tions can pro­duce sub­stan­tial­ly dif­fer­ent tailpipe emis­sions. A “sports” set­ting can empha­size more pow­er and less fuel and pol­lu­tion effi­cien­cy. An “eco” set­ting can do the oppo­site. Or a car can default to an in-between set­ting for every­day dri­ving.

    ...

    The Volk­swa­gen inves­ti­ga­tion con­tin­ues to reveal diver­gences in Amer­i­can and Euro­pean reg­u­la­tions.

    Last week, the Envi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, with reg­u­la­tors in Cal­i­for­nia and Cana­da, said they had dis­cov­ered that Volk­swa­gen had used anoth­er defeat device in some larg­er cars and sport util­i­ty vehi­cles that had not pre­vi­ous­ly been impli­cat­ed.

    Volk­swa­gen, whose brands include Audi, Porsche and Lam­borgh­i­ni, has dis­put­ed that it inten­tion­al­ly sought to evade Unit­ed States reg­u­la­tions in the lat­est find­ing. Mr. Willis, Volkswagen’s top offi­cial in Britain, wrote in a let­ter to the British Par­lia­ment that Ger­man reg­u­la­tors had con­clud­ed that the soft­ware used in these larg­er vehi­cles did not con­sti­tute a vio­la­tion in Europe.

    In an email, Germany’s Fed­er­al Motor Trans­port Author­i­ty, known by its Ger­man ini­tials K.B.A., said that for the larg­er vehi­cles impli­cat­ed by the E.P.A. last week, “the find­ings that are avail­able so far, and which are not com­plete yet, show no indi­ca­tion that an ille­gal defeat device is used.”

    The Euro­pean sys­tem is known for its loop­holes — for instance, allow­ing automak­ers to test pre­pro­duc­tion vehi­cles that will nev­er be sold and let­ting them strip out the back seats to make cars lighter and tape the doors and grilles to make them more aero­dy­nam­ic.

    But allow­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers to deter­mine engine set­tings is more fun­da­men­tal to test­ing for pol­lu­tion emis­sions.

    As the scan­dal unfolds, trade nego­tia­tors on both sides of the Atlantic have con­tin­ued to work on the Transat­lantic Trade and Invest­ment Part­ner­ship, a sprawl­ing trade agree­ment. Auto reg­u­la­tions have been con­sid­ered a par­tic­u­lar­ly fruit­ful tar­get where the sides could agree to syn­chro­nize their rules. As the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion put it in a fact sheet ear­ly this year, there were no areas of con­tro­ver­sy to hin­der the dis­cus­sions. “We’re not cur­rent­ly aware of any issues which are espe­cial­ly sen­si­tive or where peo­ple have raised spe­cif­ic con­cerns,” the com­mis­sion wrote.

    The Volk­swa­gen scan­dal has made clear how fun­da­men­tal­ly dif­fer­ent the sys­tems are, at least as relat­ed to emis­sions rules.

    Car reg­u­la­tion in Europe lacks cen­tral over­sight. Automak­ers are per­mit­ted to have their vehi­cle fleets’ emis­sions cer­ti­fied by reg­u­la­tors in any of the 28 mem­ber states, and then they must be rec­og­nized by all the oth­ers. Pol­i­cy mak­ers in Brus­sels are also under­cut by pow­er­ful mem­ber states like Ger­many pro­tect­ing domes­tic automak­ers, crit­ics say.

    While Europe plans to begin road test­ing of car pol­lu­tion in 2017, those tests as now designed will have many of the same pit­falls as the lab tests. Among oth­er things, man­u­fac­tur­ers and their con­trac­tors will per­form the tests with lit­tle reg­u­la­to­ry over­sight.

    The road tests are still sub­ject to approval in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, where frus­tra­tion has been build­ing. Volkswagen’s recent admis­sion that it under­stat­ed car­bon diox­ide emis­sions and over­stat­ed the fuel econ­o­my of 800,000 vehi­cles sold in Europe has added to that frus­tra­tion.

    “What we have devel­oped is a pho­ny sys­tem of test­ing where the mem­ber states are in com­pe­ti­tion with each oth­er for who can make it the most easy for the car man­u­fac­tur­ers to pass the test,” said Ger­ben-Jan Ger­brandy, a Dutch mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, who lament­ed that Euro­pean gov­ern­ments do not con­duct ran­dom test­ing of their own, as the E.P.A. does.

    Mr. Ger­brandy is a mem­ber of the Alliance of Lib­er­als and Democ­rats for Europe, a cen­trist bloc that assailed a recent move by the Euro­pean gov­ern­ment to make its forth­com­ing road emis­sion tests eas­i­er to pass.

    ...

    “What we have devel­oped is a pho­ny sys­tem of test­ing where the mem­ber states are in com­pe­ti­tion with each oth­er for who can make it the most easy for the car man­u­fac­tur­ers to pass the test”
    Yes, one of the longest-run­ning auto­mo­tive races of our times was the secret reg­u­la­to­ry Great Race to the bot­tom. It’s a gas.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 23, 2015, 4:15 pm
  21. When scan­dal hits an orga­ni­za­tion, some­times the sub­se­quent inves­ti­ga­tion is exact­ly what is need­ed to dig that orga­ni­za­tion out of the hole they’ve cre­at­ed for them­selves. Of course, if that dig­ging con­tin­ues to reveal a deep­er scan­dal than pre­vi­ous­ly rec­og­nized, some­times the hole gets deep­er too:

    The New Yorks
    VW Says Emis­sions Cheat­ing Was Not a One-Time Error

    By JACK EWING
    DEC. 10, 2015

    WOLFSBURG, Ger­many — Volk­swa­gen said on Thurs­day that its emis­sions cheat­ing scan­dal began in 2005 with a deci­sion to heav­i­ly pro­mote diesel engines in the Unit­ed States and a real­iza­tion that those engines could not meet clean air stan­dards.

    What fol­lowed was a text­book exam­ple of what hap­pens when ambi­tion com­bines with weak inter­nal con­trols and eth­i­cal stan­dards, the com­pa­ny acknowl­edged as it pre­sent­ed a pre­lim­i­nary report of its inves­ti­ga­tion into the ori­gins of the scan­dal.

    Some employ­ees, the com­pa­ny found, chose to cheat on emis­sions tests rather than to cur­tail Volkswagen’s Amer­i­can cam­paign.

    “There was a tol­er­ance for break­ing the rules,” Hans-Dieter Pötsch, the chair­man of Volkswagen’s super­vi­so­ry board, said here on Thurs­day, at his first lengthy news con­fer­ence since the emis­sions cheat­ing came to light in Sep­tem­ber. “That is the hard­est thing to accept,” he added.

    At the news con­fer­ence, which also includ­ed Matthias Müller, the Volk­swa­gen chief exec­u­tive, the com­pa­ny gave its most detailed expla­na­tion yet of what had led to the scan­dal. Mr. Pötsch said it was “the biggest test” in Volkswagen’s his­to­ry.

    The com­pa­ny is in talks with Unit­ed States reg­u­la­tors about how to make about 500,000 cars there com­ply with clean air rules. Mr. Müller said that he was opti­mistic that a tech­ni­cal solu­tion would be announced in the com­ing days.

    The cheat­ing began a decade ago, when Volk­swa­gen was devel­op­ing a new diesel engine and opt­ed for a less expen­sive pol­lu­tion con­trol tech­nol­o­gy. Lat­er, the Ger­man automak­er phased in a new­er tech­nol­o­gy that used the chem­i­cal urea to neu­tral­ize nitro­gen oxide emis­sions, which are a harm­ful pol­lu­tant.<

    Cars with the new­er chem­i­cal tech­nol­o­gy should have been able to pass emis­sions tests legal­ly. But appar­ent­ly, Volk­swa­gen want­ed to min­i­mize the fre­quen­cy with which cus­tomers or deal­ers would need to refill the tank that holds the chem­i­cal. And so Volk­swa­gen pro­grammed the cars to dial back emis­sion con­trols — except when tests were under­way — in order to min­i­mize con­sump­tion of the chem­i­cal.

    “It proves not to have been a one-time error, but rather a chain of errors that were allowed to hap­pen,” Mr. Pötsch said.

    While Volk­swa­gen has been able to resolve the emis­sions prob­lem in Europe at rel­a­tive­ly low cost, the Unit­ed States has stricter lim­its on nitro­gen oxide emis­sions, which have been linked to lung ail­ments.

    Com­pound­ing the prob­lem is that most of the cars sold in the Unit­ed States are equipped with old­er tech­nol­o­gy that does not use urea to treat the emis­sions and will there­fore be more dif­fi­cult to bring up to stan­dard. The com­pa­ny is like­ly to have to install new hard­ware in those vehi­cles, which include mod­els such as the Jet­ta, Golf and Bee­tle sold before the 2015 mod­el year.

    The com­pa­ny acknowl­edged that, in addi­tion to wrong­do­ing by indi­vid­ual employ­ees, the mis­con­duct was the result of weak over­sight and of “a mind-set in some areas of the com­pa­ny that tol­er­at­ed breach­es of the rules.”

    For exam­ple, the peo­ple who devel­oped parts were the same ones who approved them for pro­duc­tion. At oth­er com­pa­nies, it is stan­dard prac­tice for one team to devel­op com­po­nents and anoth­er to check them for qual­i­ty. Volk­swa­gen said it would cor­rect its pro­ce­dures.

    “We have to under­stand how this came about,” Mr. Pötsch said. “That is the only way we can pre­vent it from hap­pen­ing again.”

    Volk­swa­gen also said that nine peo­ple had been sus­pend­ed as a result of the scan­dal, one more than had pre­vi­ous­ly been dis­closed. It said it could not dis­close any names until the evi­dence was “water­tight.”

    ...

    Yep, VW start­ed off try­ing to cheat tests its cars could­n’t pass, but then pro­ceed­ed to cheat tests its cars could pass:

    ...
    The cheat­ing began a decade ago, when Volk­swa­gen was devel­op­ing a new diesel engine and opt­ed for a less expen­sive pol­lu­tion con­trol tech­nol­o­gy. Lat­er, the Ger­man automak­er phased in a new­er tech­nol­o­gy that used the chem­i­cal urea to neu­tral­ize nitro­gen oxide emis­sions, which are a harm­ful pol­lu­tant.

    Cars with the new­er chem­i­cal tech­nol­o­gy should have been able to pass emis­sions tests legal­ly. But appar­ent­ly, Volk­swa­gen want­ed to min­i­mize the fre­quen­cy with which cus­tomers or deal­ers would need to refill the tank that holds the chem­i­cal. And so Volk­swa­gen pro­grammed the cars to dial back emis­sion con­trols — except when tests were under­way — in order to min­i­mize con­sump­tion of the chem­i­cal.
    ...

    It does indeed sound like there was “a mind-set in some areas of the com­pa­ny that tol­er­at­ed breach­es of the rules.” Some areas like­ly more than oth­ers.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 10, 2015, 1:33 pm
  22. The EPA just filed a law­suit against VW over the diesel emis­sion scan­dal. Wish them luck. Espe­cial­ly if a bill mov­ing its way through Con­gress dubbed the “VW Bailout Bill” becomes law. Because if it does become law, the EPA just might be the only enti­ty that’s actu­al­ly able to bring a mean­ing­ful law­suit over the scan­dal. And not just in this case over the VW emis­sions. The “VW Bailout Bill” would effec­tive­ly bailout any enti­ty poten­tial­ly fac­ing a class-action law­suit:

    The Fis­cal Times
    A Bailout for Volk­swa­gen? Con­gress Wants to Do Some­thing Absolute­ly Crazy

    By David Dayen
    Jan­u­ary 4, 2016

    When Volk­swa­gen admit­ted to cheat­ing on air pol­lu­tion stan­dards tests in Sep­tem­ber, it opened itself up not only to gov­ern­ment pun­ish­ment, but law­suits from 500,000 U.S. pur­chasers of its “clean” diesel vehi­cles. Volk­swa­gen has yet to fix the vehi­cles to bring them into emis­sions com­pli­ance, and even if it does, that will like­ly cre­ate a low­er-per­for­mance car than con­sumers paid for.

    “Through­out these years, Volk­swa­gen has been lying to us,” says Rebec­ca Kaplan, an at-large mem­ber of the Oak­land City Coun­cil, who has been active in reduc­ing car­bon emis­sions in her city. “They’ve been under­min­ing the very things that I have been fight­ing for.” Kaplan, who has stopped dri­ving her non-com­pli­ant VW Golf TDI and reject­ed a low­ball trade-in offer from the deal­er, has joined one of hun­dreds of class-action suits against the automak­er, like­ly to be con­sol­i­dat­ed into a large mul­ti-dis­trict case.

    The com­bi­na­tion of reg­u­la­to­ry over­sight and class-action lit­i­ga­tion can keep com­pa­nies in line. But a bill in Con­gress con­sist­ing of a lit­tle more than 100 words would not only pre­vent Kaplan from seek­ing jus­tice but also crip­ple vir­tu­al­ly all class-action law­suits against cor­po­ra­tions. It’s known as the “Fair­ness in Class Action Lit­i­ga­tion Act,” but lawyers and advo­cates call it the “VW Bailout Bill.”

    The bill, which will get a vote on the House floor in the first week of Jan­u­ary, fol­lows a series of steps by the judi­cia­ry to block the cour­t­house door on behalf of cor­po­ra­tions. “There’s no ques­tion the Supreme Court has ben mov­ing in that direc­tion to lim­it access to courts,” said Joanne Doroshow, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Cen­ter for Jus­tice and Democ­ra­cy. “But Con­gress has nev­er done some­thing like this, try­ing to step in and wipe out class-actions.”

    The sim­plic­i­ty of the VW Bailout Bill belies the chaos it would cre­ate. Pro­po­nents like the U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce, the bill’s lead­ing lob­by­ist, say they mere­ly want to get rid of “non-injury” class-action cas­es, based on poten­tial dam­ages from defec­tive con­sumer prod­ucts or cor­po­rate actions that have yet to result in harm. Lawyers for class-action lit­i­gants argue that defec­tive prod­ucts deserve com­pen­sa­tion even if the con­sumer hasn’t yet been injured.

    But the bill goes much fur­ther, stat­ing that courts may not cer­ti­fy class-action suits unless the plain­tiff “affir­ma­tive­ly demon­strates that each pro­posed class mem­ber suf­fered the same type and scope of injury as the named class rep­re­sen­ta­tive or rep­re­sen­ta­tives.”

    “This is dev­as­tat­ing because it sets up all class-actions to fail,” says attor­ney Lori Andrus, who rep­re­sents sev­er­al Volk­swa­gen plain­tiffs. If every class mem­ber must have the same type and scope of injury, it forces exten­sive proofs for class cer­ti­fi­ca­tion — essen­tial­ly a full-blown tri­al up front, where plain­tiffs will have to prove that their injuries match with their fel­low rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

    Not only would these tri­als be cost­ly, but they would empow­er cor­po­rate defense lawyers’ schemes to lim­it dam­ages. While cur­rent rules already require class mem­bers to have some lev­el of com­mon­al­i­ty and typ­i­cal­i­ty, the words “same type and scope” offer oppor­tu­ni­ties to refine that fur­ther. “It’s not clear what they mean by same injury,” says Andre Mura, anoth­er class-action plaintiff’s attor­ney. The terms are so vague, Mura argued, that they would have to be inter­pret­ed repeat­ed­ly, with unpre­dictable results.

    In the Volk­swa­gen case, for exam­ple, “it could mean the same mod­el car, the same defeat device, the same emis­sions sys­tem, the same con­sumer harm,” Mura says. “When real­ly Volk­swa­gen engaged in the same course of con­duct on all their vehi­cles.” Defense attor­neys could claim that a class rep­re­sen­ta­tive who released few­er emis­sions because they drove few­er miles than their col­leagues, or drove in harsh­er weath­er, or with low­er tire pres­sure, should be exclud­ed from the case. That could either whit­tle down class­es to lim­it dam­ages or dis­qual­i­fy them from cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

    And the appli­ca­tions go beyond Volk­swa­gen. “In a mort­gage fraud case, the class might have all been deceived in same way, but the doc­u­ments signed might have been incon­sis­tent,” says Andrus. “Or with for-prof­it schools, they might have paid dif­fer­ent tuition or tak­en dif­fer­ent class­es.” Andrus has bat­tled these tac­tics before, but the con­gres­sion­al bill would cod­i­fy them into law. “There’s no ques­tion this was writ­ten by a defense lawyer whose job it is to defend cor­po­ra­tions,” she says.

    With­out a class-action option, VW cus­tomers would have lit­tle recourse. “The dam­ages are not enor­mous in the sense that I could hire indi­vid­ual coun­sel,” says George Far­quar, a sci­en­tist and small busi­ness own­er from Liv­er­more, Calif., who is part of a class-action suit against the car­mak­er. “It’s amaz­ing this leg­is­la­tion is being con­sid­ered.”

    A Con­sumer Finan­cial Pro­tec­tion Bureau study found that vic­tims of just finan­cial-relat­ed class-action set­tle­ments received over $2 bil­lion in com­pen­sa­tion between 2008 and 2012, to say noth­ing of the changes in cor­po­rate behav­ior aris­ing from those cas­es. “The alter­na­tive is that those claims dis­ap­pear,” says the Cen­ter for Jus­tice and Democracy’s Doroshow. “You’re talk­ing about pro­vid­ing basic immu­ni­ty (to cor­po­ra­tions).”

    ...

    Incred­i­bly, the House is pair­ing the VW Bailout Bill with oth­er leg­is­la­tion designed to lim­it cor­po­rate lia­bil­i­ty. The FACT (Fur­ther­ing Asbestos Claim Trans­paren­cy) Act would force pub­lic report­ing of per­son­al infor­ma­tion of asbestos vic­tims, in an effort to delay and lim­it com­pen­sa­tion for their poi­son­ing.

    The Cham­ber of Com­merce also sup­ports the FACT Act, claim­ing it would pre­vent dou­ble-dip­ping by mesothe­lioma suf­fer­ers who may have been exposed to mul­ti­ple asbestos-lined prod­ucts. But the clear intent is to both chill vic­tims from com­ing for­ward and delay their com­pen­sa­tion. Because mesothe­lioma suf­fer­ers typ­i­cal­ly only live between four and 18 months after diag­no­sis, this would shift many vic­tim claims to wrong­ful death, which has a low­er pay­out rate. Cor­po­ra­tions like Hon­ey­well have finan­cial rea­son to want vic­tims of their use of harm­ful chem­i­cals to die quick­er, so they can pay their fam­i­lies less.

    House pas­sage of the VW Bailout Bill and FACT Act is like­ly, but the Sen­ate could pro­vide a road­block. How­ev­er, as we saw with the year-end omnibus, ide­o­log­i­cal bills that can’t oth­er­wise pass on their own have a ten­den­cy to ride along with must-pass leg­is­la­tion and become law.

    Cor­po­rate immu­ni­ty has been a major pre­oc­cu­pa­tion of John Roberts’ Supreme Court. Rul­ings like AT&T Mobil­i­ty v. Con­cep­cion and Amer­i­can Express v. Ital­ian Col­ors allow cor­po­ra­tions to force their cus­tomers into manda­to­ry arbi­tra­tion, rather than the judi­cial sys­tem, to set­tle dis­putes. And 2011’s Wal­mart v. Dukes tossed out class-action cer­ti­fi­ca­tion in a gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion case, argu­ing that the retail­er couldn’t pos­si­bly have dis­crim­i­nat­ed against all 1.5 mil­lion of its female employ­ees in the exact same man­ner. Sub­se­quent cir­cuit courts have fol­lowed Supreme Court prece­dent and tight­ened class-action restric­tions.

    But while the bar for class-action cer­ti­fi­ca­tion is already set incred­i­bly high, the VW Bailout Bill adds an entire­ly new set of require­ments, cir­cum­vent­ing not only judi­cial prece­dent but also a long­stand­ing fed­er­al rule (Rule 23) that lays out class-action stan­dards. And it would pro­tect cor­po­ra­tions that engi­neer major frauds, where it is dif­fi­cult to bring thou­sands of indi­vid­ual claims.

    “It’s incred­i­bly inap­pro­pri­ate for Con­gress to send the mes­sage that it’s OK to hurt peo­ple by the mil­lions,” said Volk­swa­gen own­er Rebec­ca Kaplan. “The more peo­ple you hurt, the more this law will pro­tect you.”

    “This is dev­as­tat­ing because it sets up all class-actions to fail”
    Yep, the GOP’s response to VW’s sys­tem­at­ic scam­ming of US con­sumers is to make it effec­tive­ly impos­si­ble for not just VW’s con­sumers but ALL Amer­i­can con­sumers to wage a class-action law­suit against any cor­po­ra­tion at all.

    Maybe those lucky VW own­ers can take their com­plaints into pri­vate-arbi­tra­tion courts that’s all the rage these days. The own­ers that accept­ed VW’s ‘good will’ $500 cash pay­ments will prob­a­bly aren’t going to have a choice any­way if they decide to sue since an arbi­tra­tion clause was added to the con­tract required to get the mon­ey. That should go well.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 4, 2016, 7:42 pm

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