Volkswagen and the "smog defeat" devices

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Volkswagen and the "smog defeat" devices

Post by asiab3 » Fri Sep 18, 2015 10:36 am

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/19/busin ... tware.html

It looks like our four-cylinders are in the clear. Otherwise, this is moderately disgusting.

VW engineers programmed these diesels to detect a smog check being performed, and ramp up emissions control systems to peak efficiency. Shitty for the earth, but I bet the exhaust valves love it.

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Re: Volkswagen and the "smog defeat" devices

Post by the miz » Fri Sep 18, 2015 11:04 am

...aw dang it...I own 2 of those vehicles! Hopefully the recall work won't affect fuel economy...otherwise it would seem the net environmental impact wold be close to zero.

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Re: Volkswagen and the "smog defeat" devices

Post by asiab3 » Fri Sep 18, 2015 11:22 am

the miz wrote:...aw dang it...I own 2 of those vehicles! Hopefully the recall work won't affect fuel economy...otherwise it would seem the net environmental impact wold be close to zero.

-miz
Perhaps... Though economy and emissions are related, they are not mutually exclusive. Take a cat, for example. Zero impact on combustion efficiency, but a great deal of scrubbing of hydrocarbons in every single one.
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Re: Volkswagen and the "smog defeat" devices

Post by the miz » Fri Sep 18, 2015 1:00 pm

asiab3 wrote: Perhaps... Though economy and emissions are related, they are not mutually exclusive. Take a cat, for example. Zero impact on combustion efficiency, but a great deal of scrubbing of hydrocarbons in every single one.
...touche! ...well, except for when your cat is plugged. :blackeye:
So, it strikes me that the emissions system on these vehicles is somewhat non standard, at least for the US... what with the lack of "exhaust fluid"? I guess it had to do with GVW? I looked at a TDI Passat a few years back and had the whole urea thing explained to me and that there was no difference between Passat and Jetta apart from GVW and that the Passat met the weight criteria to have the urea addition made. I'd assume the "smog cheater" was a way to bring something that was acceptable emissions-wise (globally), up to a California standard? I wonder what the "cheater" is and how it works...I mean, I've been driving one of these vehicles since 2011 and don't see how they could fail an emissions test, as they run way cleaner than any gasoline engine I've experienced...and let's not forget about the countless trucks belching black clouds into the sky. Also I am wondering if it will be a problem anywhere but in California? We don't have emissions testing in this neck of the woods...

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Re: Volkswagen and the "smog defeat" devices

Post by wcfvw69 » Fri Sep 18, 2015 3:43 pm

I'd really love to be loyal to VW and buy their current offerings. The sad truth is, I can't for a myriad of reasons. Maybe being bitter that they don't support the air cooled cars w/parts like Mercedes and Porsche (VW owns Porsche). The quality of their cars the last 20 years has been suspect. I know too many people who've experienced far too many problems with VW's the past 20 years. I rented a 2013 Beetle on vacation. I'm not sure POS is strong enough words to accurately describe it.

When I decided to swap my 2012 Wrangler Jeep for something more comfortable and w/better fuel economy on road trips, I didn't even include VW's in my potential sedans I test drove. After much research and after driving 4 different brand sedans, I have a 2015 Honda accord in my driveway. At least it's "assembled" in the USA. :)
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Re: Volkswagen and the "smog defeat" devices

Post by Amskeptic » Fri Sep 18, 2015 4:14 pm

wcfvw69 wrote:I'd really love to be loyal to VW and buy their current offerings. The sad truth is, I can't for a myriad of reasons.
No kidding. This is the height of corporate arrogance. What were they thinking? Did they think the EPA and CARBwere too stupid to catch this? I think they did.

Here's the article for as long as this forum stands . . . an archive post in case The New York Times goes Murdoch on us . . .
VW Is Said to Cheat on Diesel Emissions; U.S. Orders Big Recall
By CORAL DAVENPORT and JACK EWING
The New York Times
SEPT. 18, 2015

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Friday directed Volkswagen to recall nearly a half-million cars, saying the automaker illegally installed software in its diesel-power cars that was intentionally designed to circumvent environmental standards for reducing smog.

The Environmental Protection Agency issued the German automaker a notice of violation and accused the company of using software known as a “defeat device” in 4-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi vehicles from model years 2009-15. The device is programmed to detect when the car is undergoing official emissions testing. Only during such tests are the cars’ full emissions control systems turned on. During normal driving situations, the controls are turned off, allowing the cars to spew as much as 40 times as much pollution as the legal standard required under the Clean Air Act, the E.P.A. said.

“Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health,” said Cynthia Giles, the E.P.A.’s assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance. “Working closely with the California Air Resources Board, E.P.A. is committed to making sure that all automakers play by the same rules. E.P.A. will continue to investigate these very serious violations.”
She added, “We expected better from Volkswagen.”

Agency officials said the car company had admitted to the use of the defeat device. A spokeswoman for Volkswagen confirmed that the company had received the notice of violation and said the automaker was cooperating with the investigation. She declined to comment further on the case.

The software was designed to conceal the cars’ emission of the pollutant nitrogen oxide, which contributes to the creation of ozone and smog. The pollutants are linked to a range of health problems, including asthma attacks, other respiratory diseases and premature death.

California has issued a separate notice of violation to the company. California, the E.P.A. and the Justice Department are working together on an investigation of the allegations.

Over the next year, E.P.A. officials said that owners of the affected vehicles should expect to receive recall notices from the company, including information about how to get their cars repaired at no cost to them. They cover roughly 482,000 diesel passenger cars sold in the United States since 2009.


Affected diesel models include
2009-15 Volkswagen Jetta
2009-15 Beetle
2009-15 Golf
2014-15 Passat
2009-15 Audi A3

Friday’s notice of violation was the Obama administration’s “opening salvo” in the Volkswagen case, said Thomas Reynolds, an E.P.A. spokesman. The Justice Department’s investigation could ultimately result in fines or penalties for the company. Under the terms of the Clean Air Act, the Justice Department could impose fines of as much as $37,500 for each recalled vehicle, for a possible total penalty of as much as $18 billion.

The notice of violation is part of a broader, more aggressive enforcement effort by federal regulators on the auto industry. Analysts and activists said it was intended to send a message to automakers that they would be harshly treated for compromising federal rules.

“This is several steps beyond the violations that we’ve seen from other auto companies,” said Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program at Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group. “They appear to have designed a system with the intention to mislead consumers and the government. If that’s proven true, it’s remarkable and outrageous. It would merit a heck of a lot more than just a recall and a fine. We would see criminal prosecution.”

In recent years, the federal government has aggressively pursued automakers for failing to disclose safety violations, although the settlements often reached have fallen short of expectations. On Thursday, General Motors agreed to pay the federal government a $900 million penalty for failing to disclose defects in ignition switches, a deal that disappointed many of the victims’ families. In 2013, Toyota recalled more than 10 million vehicles and agreed to pay the United States government a $1.2 billion settlement, admitting that it concealed information from consumers and regulators about problems with gas pedals that caused the cars to unexpectedly accelerate.

Analysts said that the administration now appears to be pursuing similar tactics against automakers who conceal violations of health and environmental rules. In November 2014, the administration announced the largest penalty ever for a violation of the Clean Air Act after the Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia agreed to pay a combined $300 million as part of a settlement for overstating vehicle fuel-economy standards on 1.2 million cars.

“They want to make it clear that they’re going to crack down on cheaters,” said Frank O’Donnell, president of the environmental advocacy group Clean Air Watch. “They’re cheating not only car buyers but the breathing public. They want to lay down the law, enforce the law and show they’re not going to tolerate cheaters. The laws and regulation are only as good as the enforcement.”

The notice of violation is especially embarrassing for Volkswagen because it comes days after the company trumpeted plans to introduce 20 plug-in hybrid or all-electric vehicles by 2020 as part of a campaign to reduce vehicle emissions. News of the recall request also arrives in the midst of the Frankfurt Motor Show, one of the biggest events on the auto industry calendar. Volkswagen has taken over an entire exhibition hall to show off its cars, while Audi has a separate pavilion.

Volkswagen, which also owns the high-end sports car makers Porsche and Lamborghini, recently surpassed Toyota as the world’s biggest automaker. But VW has been struggling to gain market share in the United States, where it has long been weak. The investigation is unlikely to help. In the eight months through August, sales of Volkswagen brand cars in the United States fell 3 percent, to 238,000 vehicles. By comparison, Toyota sold 1.15 million vehicles in the same period.

Officials from E.P.A. and the California Air Resources Board said they discovered the software in the course of an investigation aimed at uncovering the use of such defeat devices. They said that researchers at West Virginia University and the International Council on Clean Transportation, a nongovernmental organization, raised questions about emissions levels in the Volkswagen vehicles.

“We developed a test routine to demonstrate how they operated one way on a test cycle and another way in the real world,” said Richard Corey, an executive officer on the California Air Resources Board.
“The dogged detective work in the lab provided the data,” which resulted in the admission from Volkswagen that the company was using the devices, he said. “We put Volkswagen on notice and will continue our investigation to get to the bottom of what seems to be a very serious violation of public health and public trust,” he said.

E.P.A. officials declined to reveal why they chose to initiate the investigation.

The Volkswagen case is not the first federal investigation into the use of defeat devices. In 2007, the federal government reached a landmark settlement requiring Casper’s Electronics, of Mundelein, Ill., to stop selling the devices, and to pay a $74,000 civil penalty. The company had sold approximately 44,000 defeat devices through its website and retailers since 2001.
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Re: Volkswagen and the "smog defeat" devices

Post by dingo » Fri Sep 18, 2015 7:24 pm

Perhaps... Though economy and emissions are related, they are not mutually exclusive. Take a cat, for example. Zero impact on combustion efficiency, but a great deal of scrubbing of hydrocarbons in every single one.

platinum, palladium and rhodium, nickel...consider the externalities: some of the largest toxic wastelands on the planet are the locations where this stuff is mined, for example Norilsk in Siberia..all conveniently outside of north America, where environmental standards are zero ...we have merely shifted the polutant from one part of the planet to another, and into the future where somebody will have to deal with it sometime...

and then there is theOBD1, OBDII and whatever came after it...its sole function is to keep the cat in its narrow range of functionality at constant expense of combustion efficiency.
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Re: Volkswagen and the "smog defeat" devices

Post by SlowLane » Tue Sep 22, 2015 12:37 am

Okay, I know it's wrong, but as a controls software engineer, I just gotta say I'm impressed by the ingenuity of the guys who wrote the "defeat device" software. Quite a clever bit of coding, that. :geek:
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Re: Volkswagen and the "smog defeat" devices

Post by asiab3 » Tue Sep 22, 2015 7:37 am

See if you can find the company (not the CEO) response to the investigation. The wording was clear, and something like "The environment is one of our highest cooperate interests."

Corporate interest. Not "priority." Not "responsibility." Corporate interest. :pukeright:

I can't seem to find that press release anymore.
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Re: Volkswagen and the "smog defeat" devices

Post by asiab3 » Tue Sep 22, 2015 7:40 am

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Re: Volkswagen and the "smog defeat" devices

Post by jcbrock » Wed Sep 23, 2015 8:38 am

SlowLane wrote:Okay, I know it's wrong, but as a controls software engineer, I just gotta say I'm impressed by the ingenuity of the guys who wrote the "defeat device" software. Quite a clever bit of coding, that. :geek:
Kinda curious about that myself. Could be as simple as front wheels turning, rear wheels not, plus the steering angle sensor not indicating a change of angle - something like that would say it was on a dyno.
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Re: Volkswagen and the "smog defeat" devices

Post by asiab3 » Wed Sep 23, 2015 10:37 am

jcbrock wrote:
SlowLane wrote:Okay, I know it's wrong, but as a controls software engineer, I just gotta say I'm impressed by the ingenuity of the guys who wrote the "defeat device" software. Quite a clever bit of coding, that. :geek:
Kinda curious about that myself. Could be as simple as front wheels turning, rear wheels not, plus the steering angle sensor not indicating a change of angle - something like that would say it was on a dyno.
I was blown away by this too when I took my 2009 2.5L Jetta in for its first smog test this year, but OBD2 cars are not sniffed on a dyno. They are plugged into the government issue computer, left to idle for a few minutes, and the computer reads the on board memory/sensor system in place. Sign the papers, talk to the ref about the "good old days," pay your $45, and leave.

I was as shocked as could be. When I asked where his tailpipe probe was, he said he'd "have to look for it." Dang. I've always wanted to bring my bus in when it's running well and get baseline numbers. Fuel economy dropped to 20mpg last trip, so I checked timing and found it 5* retarded. Still not as much NOX in comparison.. :blackeye:
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Re: Volkswagen and the "smog defeat" devices

Post by jcbrock » Wed Sep 23, 2015 12:30 pm

Ok. I was thinking the testing in question was some model year acceptance testing by DOT/CARB, not the biennial smog check. When we did that kind of testing in school (way back machine invoked here) the car was on a dyno and we had a giant bag capturing all the exhaust gas. I am sure they have better ways of doing it now including the onboard sensors.
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Re: Volkswagen and the "smog defeat" devices

Post by Xelmon » Wed Sep 23, 2015 11:47 pm

Oh do I have cents on this topic!

Will come back once I'm rested.

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Re: Volkswagen and the "smog defeat" devices

Post by hippiewannabe » Thu Sep 24, 2015 5:38 pm

jcbrock wrote:
SlowLane wrote:Okay, I know it's wrong, but as a controls software engineer, I just gotta say I'm impressed by the ingenuity of the guys who wrote the "defeat device" software. Quite a clever bit of coding, that. :geek:
Kinda curious about that myself. Could be as simple as front wheels turning, rear wheels not, plus the steering angle sensor not indicating a change of angle - something like that would say it was on a dyno.
Yes, that's it. Nothing the least bit clever about it. Steering wheel staying straight, rear wheels not moving = on a dynamometer. On a dynamometer = take the clean air programming path. Basic programming any college freshman CS major could do. The only special requirement is a complete lack of morals and the ability to look people in the eye and lie.

You know what would have been clever? If they had actually found a way to meet the NOx regulation without using urea injection. Which is what all the other stupid companies had to do, while they strutted around bragging how smart they were. Arrogant lying bastards.
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