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  #1  
Old 18 September 2015, 10:29 PM
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Psihala Psihala is offline
 
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Driver EPA accuses Volkswagen, Audi of evading emission laws

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.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/...laws/72400018/
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  #2  
Old 20 September 2015, 10:36 PM
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E. Q. Taft E. Q. Taft is offline
 
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This is not what I wosuld call "evading" emissions laws. This is an out-and-out conspiracy to violate them. I hope they are able to discover who was complicit and put some people in jail.
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  #3  
Old 21 September 2015, 12:04 AM
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And hit the company with the maximum possible fines.
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  #4  
Old 21 September 2015, 12:07 AM
Alchemy Alchemy is offline
 
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Disclaimer: I do not know in detail the accusations against VW. I neither support nor refute these accusations. I am merely giving some context to these accusations.

VW has been very successful in rolling out non-urea-based NOX reduction technology, and I believe all these vehicles mentioned use NOX Storage and Reduction (NSR, sometimes called LNT) catalysts. These are really tricky devices because they rely on sophisticated engine strategy to periodically run rich and remove stored NOX before the NSR trap is overwhelmed. As well, the material of the NSR is chemically and physically fragile compared to most other automotive catalysts.

Most of my work is in NOX reduction, so I've seen at least a dozen talks on NSR alone this year. It appears no automaker other than VW has put a great deal of faith in the technology seeing near-term US rollout.

If it turns out that the one company that has substantially invested in US market NSR simply fabricated its success in the technique, that's going to have major repercussions in the automotive emissions community. ("Hey, you know the one company that uses a complicated emissions strategy that none of us can get working right? Turns out they couldn't get it to work either; they just lied about it.")

As to how this can happen: New vehicle emissions testing is highly standardized. We put a car on a chassis dynamometer, strap it down, and have a driver following a speed trace while we suck gas out of the exhaust pipe and run it through our instruments.* For certification, all this happens in a controlled environment - the air is a specific temperature and humidity, and the car must be allowed to soak in that temperature of air for a certain period of time.

This means it's possible, if you're very sneaky, to have code in the PCM that switches the vehicle to a super-secret "low emissions" mode when (e.g.) the vehicle's temperature history suggests the car might be undergoing a cold soak prior to an EPA certification test.

My colleagues and I have even discussed such issues specific to NSR - the fact the catalyst has to store NOX for long periods of time (and might be near capacity prior to an emissions test) gives both ability and incentive for abuse. What if the PCM, at the end of a test protocol, ran rich and dirty for a while to fully clear the NSR right at the time the engine knew its emissions weren't being collected?

I don't know enough about the VW accusations (it's been on my radar for a while but haven't had a chance to investigate deeply) but I'm guessing they are being accused of utilizing a cycle-beating algorithm like this.

* Well, collected into teflon-lined bags and then tested.
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  #5  
Old 21 September 2015, 03:30 AM
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A Turtle Named Mack A Turtle Named Mack is offline
 
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Germany How Volkswagen cheated on the auto emissions rules

Quote:
U.S. and California environmental regulators on Friday accused Volkswagen AG of deliberately circumventing clean air rules on nearly 500,000 diesel cars and the company could face penalties of up to $18 billion.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency alleged that Volkswagen used software in four-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars from model years 2009 to 2015 to circumvent emissions testing of certain air pollutants.

“Put simply, these cars contained software that turns off emissions controls when driving normally and turns them on when the car is undergoing an emissions test,” Cynthia Giles, an enforcement officer at the EPA, told reporters in a teleconference.
The way most of the regulations are written seems to indicate that the vehicle must have a functional system of this type which is accurately monitoring system performance and meets the maximum emissions requirements at the time of testing. Obviously the VW vehicles in question were doing just that. But cars today have all sorts of bells and whistles which drivers can use to customize their driving experience. They can switch from “performance” mode to “economy” mode with the push of a button. Things like that obviously affect the vehicle’s emissions. Other such options are available. And when you think about it, the “disable device” was really just putting the car into a different mode of operation which includes heavy emissions control. When it was disconnected and ready to head back out on the road it was switching back to a different mode with a bit more performance. None of that changes the fact that the emissions were within the required limits at the time of testing.

http://hotair.com/archives/2015/09/2...issions-rules/

ETA: The above may be a little confusing - the part in the quote block is a quote within the article I linked. The rest is from the blog explaining why it is possible that what VW did may meet the letter of the law, which generally is what matters when you get into court.
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  #6  
Old 21 September 2015, 03:39 AM
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Quote:
None of that changes the fact that the emissions were within the required limits at the time of testing.
But the test is supposed to represent the vehicle's normal operating parameters. If they're using a switch that changes the vehicle's output to something else, it's known as cheating.
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  #7  
Old 21 September 2015, 05:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by A Turtle Named Mack View Post
The way most of the regulations are written seems to indicate that the vehicle must have a functional system of this type which is accurately monitoring system performance and meets the maximum emissions requirements at the time of testing.
The EPA has declared VW's Certificate of Conformity on these vehicles is invalidated because the vehicle's ability to go from clean-running to dirty-running depending on whether or not it thinks it's undergoing an EPA certification test is black-letter-law illegal. It's both an undisclosed emissions control device (illegal) and a defeat device (very illegal). There isn't even a hint of ambiguity about this, and VW has agreed to the most relevant facts regarding the accusation. (Well, after accusing my colleagues at WVU of poor testing protocols, and finding out this didn't take the heat off.)

Quote:
But cars today have all sorts of bells and whistles which drivers can use to customize their driving experience. They can switch from “performance” mode to “economy” mode with the push of a button. Things like that obviously affect the vehicle’s emissions.
And as such, they are emissions control devices which must be disclosed to the EPA. So long as the devices are disclosed, the EPA has the information necessary to make COC decisions, and the automaker ensures it is in compliance with the CAA. If you don't develop emissions systems you might think the law is a little vague in this department but I can assure you it is not.

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And when you think about it, the “disable device” was really just putting the car into a different mode of operation which includes heavy emissions control.
Defeat device. It's a term of art. It's not a loophole; it's in the CAA and all of us who make emissions systems know what it is and what happens if you use one.

Quote:
None of that changes the fact that the emissions were within the required limits at the time of testing.
Er, yeah, that's why the EPA isn't accusing VW of failing the FTP-75 etc.? The cars clearly passed those tests; they're still non-conforming because of the Defeat Device.

Quote:
ETA: The above may be a little confusing - the part in the quote block is a quote within the article I linked. The rest is from the blog explaining why it is possible that what VW did may meet the letter of the law, which generally is what matters when you get into court.
It's not really confusing so much as it's just off-the-cuff comments from someone who doesn't have any knowledge or understanding about the subject and can't be bothered to look anything up. It's just dumb and lazy writing.

The EPA's Notice of Violation (PDF: http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/cert/docume...a-09-18-15.pdf ) outlines the specifics of the accusations and what laws it claims were violated. VW does not seem to dispute any of the major facts anymore.
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  #8  
Old 22 September 2015, 09:21 PM
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And I have been considering a turbo diesel car to try to get the best mileage. Citroen anyone?
Even as a WVU alum, I have to say that this was an interesting piece of cheating on VW's part.

Ali
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  #9  
Old 22 September 2015, 09:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ali Infree View Post
And I have been considering a turbo diesel car to try to get the best mileage. Citroen anyone?
Does anyone other than VW/Audi actually sell a diesel car in the US? Actually, I'd always thought the reason they're relatively uncommon here was because it was difficult to get them to meet our emissions standards. Now that this has come out it pretty ironic how they marked their so called "Clean Diesel" technology here. In fact when they were first introduced they were touted as the only diesels that met California's stricter standards.
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  #10  
Old 22 September 2015, 10:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
Does anyone other than VW/Audi actually sell a diesel car in the US?
There are a fair number of pickup trucks that are diesels. All the big makers sell one in the US. The gov't (and the buying public) really don't differentiate between pickup trucks and cars.
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  #11  
Old 22 September 2015, 10:23 PM
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Maybe I was unclear, but I was using "car" to mean "not a pickup" in this case. Yes, I see lots of diesel pickups on the road. But I thought pickups weren't subject to the same emissions standards as cars either, which I assumed was why they are relatively common here while diesel cars are not.
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  #12  
Old 22 September 2015, 10:38 PM
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I think pickups are subject to the standards. Certainly my 3/4 ton work van is.

-- yup:

http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/standards.htm

Quote:
the Tier 2 Program sets the standards for tailpipe emissions for all passenger vehicles, including sport utility vehicles (SUVs, minivans, vans, and pick-up trucks, beginning in 2004.
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  #13  
Old 22 September 2015, 10:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy101_again View Post
There are a fair number of pickup trucks that are diesels. All the big makers sell one in the US. The gov't (and the buying public) really don't differentiate between pickup trucks and cars.
If I remember right, trucks and SUVs have different emissions standards that cars. I think Volkswagon might be the only company that sells actual cars (not SUV's or trucks) as diesels in the U.S. Mercedes used to, but I don't know if they still do.
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  #14  
Old 22 September 2015, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
I guess I stand corrected then. Maybe it was the case at one time but not anymore? Because I think I got the idea from a controversy from years ago where Subaru tweaked some of their all-wheel-drive cars so they could technically classify them as trucks in order to get around some sort of rule. I had remembered it being something to do with emissions, but maybe it was something else. CAFE fuel efficiency standards maybe?
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  #15  
Old 22 September 2015, 11:04 PM
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Chevy Cruze has a diesel version.
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  #16  
Old 22 September 2015, 11:14 PM
Alchemy Alchemy is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
Does anyone other than VW/Audi actually sell a diesel car in the US?
GM, Ford, and Chrysler all offer diesel options in their heavy duty pickup lines.

Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz each produce an assortment of diesel passenger vehicles for the US market. There are also diesel models of the Porsche Cayenne, Chevrolet Cruze, and Jeep Cherokee that have very recently entered the market.

Quote:
Actually, I'd always thought the reason they're relatively uncommon here was because it was difficult to get them to meet our emissions standards.
It's hard to completely remove NOX in diesels, so early EURO certifications permitted them to emit several times more NOX than gasoline vehicles. In the USA we hold all passenger vehicles and light trucks to the same standard regardless of fuel type. This disincentivizes automakers from putting much effort into light-duty diesel engines in the USA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
But I thought pickups weren't subject to the same emissions standards as cars either, which I assumed was why they are relatively common here while diesel cars are not.
They are now, but under EPA Tier 1 (in force from 1994-2004) there were separate emissions standards for passenger cars and different sizes of light duty trucks. CAFE was similar. Manufacturers could even get their vehicles classified as one type for emissions purposes, another type for fuel economy purposes, and yet another type for marketing purposes.

This helped drive the progression from sedan to station wagon to minivan to SUV - manufacturers making vehicles car-like enough for average drivers but truck-like enough to meet the less stringent truck classification. The not-surprising reaction by the EPA was to put all passenger and light-duty vehicles into a single class to close this loophole in Tier 2.
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  #17  
Old 22 September 2015, 11:17 PM
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Originally Posted by WildaBeast View Post
I guess I stand corrected then. Maybe it was the case at one time but not anymore? Because I think I got the idea from a controversy from years ago where Subaru tweaked some of their all-wheel-drive cars so they could technically classify them as trucks in order to get around some sort of rule. I had remembered it being something to do with emissions, but maybe it was something else. CAFE fuel efficiency standards maybe?
It was mileage requirements, IIRC - they changed the chassis of the Outback so that it would be classified as a light truck rather than as a passenger car.
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  #18  
Old 23 September 2015, 02:42 AM
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Originally Posted by musicgeek View Post
It was mileage requirements, IIRC - they changed the chassis of the Outback so that it would be classified as a light truck rather than as a passenger car.
Similarly, the rear-facing seats in the bed of the Subaru BRAT pickup were claimed to have been installed to allow the truck to be classified as a car, avoiding the Chicken Tax.

Quote:
Actually, I'd always thought the reason they're relatively uncommon here was because it was difficult to get them to meet our emissions standards.
One big reason manufacturers don't sell them here is because they simply don't sell all that well. Diesel is more expensive than gasoline here, so the extra expense of buying a diesel automobile (typically a few grand for a comparable trim level), plus the fuel costs, doesn't pay off all that quickly. Plus you don't even get a tax credit (like with an electric or some hybrids) so there's no break there either.
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  #19  
Old 23 September 2015, 05:24 AM
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Oddly enough I got a Jetta diesel as a rental once. Of course rentals are a completely different animal. I wouldn't be surprised if they gave them to the rental company at below cost just to get people to drive them. Renting a car is pretty much the ultimate test drive, after all.
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  #20  
Old 23 September 2015, 01:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crescent View Post
If I remember right, trucks and SUVs have different emissions standards that cars. I think Volkswagon might be the only company that sells actual cars (not SUV's or trucks) as diesels in the U.S. Mercedes used to, but I don't know if they still do.
Mercedes sells Bluetec cars
Chevrolet sells the Cruise diesel (car)
BMW has diesel cars
Audi has diesel cars
VW has diesel cars
Jeep has diesels (XUV/SUV's)
Porsche has diesels (XUV/SUV)

(not berating you don't worry)

OY
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