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Emissions test melt down – what next for VWG?

By Andrew Marsh, 23.09.15
Posted in: Business News | Manufacturer Profiles | Public
Volkswagen Group (VWG) did the unthinkable and took a risk with a market that they dearly want to expand. However lying about vehicle emissions is a point of law. OEMs who have lied to USA authorities in the past have been told very quickly – in a matter of days – to:
  1. Stop selling all new vehicles.
  2. Not to move any vehicles from dock side (theoretically outside the USA) inland.
  3. Not to sell any second hand vehicles.
  4. Offer a solution and implementation plan.
  5. Failure to complete the above means either the OEM removes all vehicles – new and old – or the authorities will crush the lot as well as pass the cost of doing so onto the OEM.
  6. Regardless of the action, compensation for vehicle owners (loss of vehicle plus expenses) and associated businesses (dealers and more) will be driven by State and Federal authorities.

This has happened before. Jaguar rushed a USA only emission package for the XJS V12, and messed up. The primary catalytic converters did not survive for the legally binding minimum durability period of 50000 miles – typically they failed at 4000 miles. So Jaguar signed up to replacing the converters at a total cost of $5000 per vehicle, per change – for 50000 miles. Each change involved removing the engine…..That minimum durability period is now 100000 miles.

Lotus did what VWG did when a vehicle was accidentally re-tested straight after an official test – they used a clockwork device. Lotus had to buy back all registered vehicles, and ship all stock along with the used vehicles out of the USA. They did not re-enter the USA market for several years and did so under very close scrutiny with the help of Delphi (engine management) and GM (by then the owners of the company).

Major issues
  • The software routine to recognize the non driven wheels are stationary for an extended period whilst the others are moving is written into the engine management system, and calibrated by the OEM. That facility is unlikely to be exclusive to VWG.
  • The drive cycle used in the USA and European emission tests are different, but both use a mathematical curve rather than a ‘real’ driving cycle. Ironic ally the USA used to use such a cycle.
  • The USA emission limits for diesel engines are much, much tougher than Euro VI, designed to keep diesel ‘out’.
  • VWG have undermined not only their own reputation but the entire automotive industry.
  • ACEA need to come clean about what their members have been up to, who is straight and who may be at risk – and fast.

There are already efforts that have been underway for more than a decade already to produce an emission test that is far more representative of real world driving for Europe as well as the USA, but there is no planned introduction date yet.Those tests will finally close the loop in a fully balanced approach to tail pipe emissions instead of treating CO2 as a commodity / tax incentive device.

Until that happens along with a tightening of the regulatory bodies ability to inspect the technical content / function of the emission control systems the whole premise of emission testing is deeply damaged.

 

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