EPA to change diesel tests to thwart VW-like cheating

27 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Could Volkswagen scandal be diesel’s death knell?.

A recap for those who haven’t been following the story: The Environmental Protection Agency accused VW of setting certain diesel cars to cheat on emissions tests. BERLIN: Volkswagen’s new boss began trying to pull the embattled carmaker out of the wreckage of a pollution test rigging scandal Saturday, as the United States and Switzerland banned the sale of the group’s new diesel cars.

The Volkswagen emissions scandal, which has lowered resale values for thousands of VW owners and spread to other automakers, could also lower demand for what was once thought of as the fuel of the future in North America. “Maybe Europe will be OK because we all kind of got used to them and we appreciate their advantages.Washington: The US environmental regulator said on Friday that it will test all diesel car models for pollution “defeat devices” in the wake of the scandal over Volkswagen’s vehicles. The 62-year-old former Porsche chief Matthias Mueller was tapped on Friday to replace Martin Winterkorn, who resigned over stunning revelations by US environmental authorities that the German carmaker had fitted some of its diesel cars with software capable of cheating environmental tests. Thomas Rohrbach, spokesman for the Swiss federal office of roadways, said the ban applied to all cars with diesel engines in the Euro 5 emissions category. But I think outside of Europe where it was difficult anyway, I think diesel cars for now are dead, maybe forever.” Manufacturers saw diesel engines, which are 20 to 30 per cent more efficient than gasoline engines, as a way to meet strict new American fuel efficiency standards brought in by the administration of U.S.

The Swiss estimate that around 180,000 Volkswagen group vehicles already on its roads could contain the software which reduces pollution levels during testing. Then, when the owner was back on the road, it went back to normal, spewing up to 40 times more pollution than is legally allowed but also getting more miles per gallon and power. The scam could lead to fines worth more than $18 billion (16.1 billion euros), while the German giant has already seen billions of euros wiped off its stocks this week. “We will overcome this crisis,” he said Friday, adding that the carmaker could “emerge stronger from the crisis in the long term” if it learned from its mistakes.

Mr Grundler would not say what changes the agency would make to the testing. “They don’t need to know,” Mr Grundler, speaking to reporters on a conference call, said of the manufacturers. “They need to know that we will be keeping their cars a little bit longer.” Mr Grundler earlier told the Associated Press that the agency might add on-road testing. Volkswagen has said the 11 million vehicles worldwide that contain software involved in the emissions-rigging scandal include some five million cars made by its core VW brand. With the use of the defeat device, the car has more power and saves more fuel, but can spew more pollutants into the air, including nitrogen oxides, in amounts much higher than emissions standards. It already has on-road testing ability but it has only been used to check manufacturer’s petrol mileage estimates and diesel trucks, two situations in which they had uncovered emissions cheating in the past.

Some 180,000 vehicles on Swiss roads made by Volkswagen’s Audi, Seat, Skoda and VW brands between 2009 and 2014 could be affected by the scandal, the Federal Roads Office said in a statement. With lower taxes keeping gasoline prices relatively cheap, North Americans — and Americans in particular — haven’t had the same incentive to move to diesel as Europeans. Volkswagen “very deeply within a hundred million lines of software code had a sophisticated algorithm designed specifically to defeat these tests”, Grundler said. Sales of new vehicles of this type would be banned, but the prohibition wouldn’t extend to the cars already on the roads or vehicles with the newer EURO6 emissions standard. France and Britain have announced new checks and the European Union has urged its 28 member states to investigate whether vehicles in their countries complied with pollution rules.

And the International Council on Clean Transportation, the same group that discovered the Volkswagen deception, said Renault, Hyundai and Volvo each have single diesel models that would not pass real-world emission tests. “We invite all member states, in addition to the ones who are already doing so, to carry out all the necessary investigations,” European Commission spokesperson Lucia Caudet said. “I’m sad, and I’m sure that the dealers are sad. The move would be the latest blow for Wolfsburg-based Volkswagen that has lost around a third of its market value since the emissions-testing crisis emerged.

Scientists discovered that some cars had been fitted with the technology after conducting research in 2011, but this information was not made public until 2013. The car business is a great industry and we don’t need this kind of situation,” said Jacques Bechard of the Automobile Dealers Corporation of Quebec. “I think the reputation of the industry is going to be trashed over this scandal,” said Greg Archer, of the Brussels-based environment group Transport & Environment.

Volkswagen’s shareholders, dominated by the Porsche SE holding company — a separate entity to the luxury brand car — are expected to hold emergency talks in Berlin on November 9. VW then admitted it had sold 1973 model year cars with the devices, which consisted of temperature-sensing switches that cut out pollution controls at low temperatures.

In an interview with FAZ that will be published in full on Sunday, Daimler’s CEO Dieter Zetsche expressed “compassion” for his former VW opposite number Winterkorn, who was forced to quit Wednesday over the scandal. Sixty-five per cent of new cars sold in France in the first six months of the year were diesel. “A comparable diesel engine, say to a comparable gas engine, will use about 20 per cent less fuel.

Winterkorn came under pressure after the car maker admitted that software used to dupe environmental regulators in the U.S. and Europe was installed on more than 11 million cars that are now possibly subject to a global recall. Winterkorn, who once famously said he knows “every screw in our cars”, said he was “stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen group.” The group says that five million Volkswagen brand vehicles — including the sixth-generation Golf, seventh-generation Passat and Tiguan models — are affected worldwide. The comapny said: ‘Certain models and model years of these vehicles (such as the sixth generation Volkswagen Golf, the seventh generation Volkswagen Passat and the first generation Volkswagen Tiguan) are equipped exclusively with type EA 189 diesel engines.

According to the U.S. authorities, roughly 482,000 cars in the country were fitted with software that covertly turns off when driving normally, and turns them on when the car is undergoing an emissions test. VW has set aside 6.5 billion euros in provisions for the third quarter to cover the potential costs of the disclosures, while ratings agencies have warned they may cut Volkswagen’s credit rating, which could increase the company’s financing costs.

However, all new Volkswagen cars fitted with engines that meet new EU6 standards across Europe ‘are not affected’ it said including the ‘current’ Golf, Passat and Touran models.’ Dr. It’s the oxides of nitrogen that are the issue,” Kenzie said. “Personally, if I knew — as some people are saying — that the [Volkswagen] Golf SportWagen has lost $10,000 of its value overnight, give me a call. The current VW case resembles a 1998 case involving seven manufacturers of heavy-duty truck engines: Caterpillar, Cummins, Detroit Diesel, Mack Trucks, Navistar International Transportation, Renault Vehicules Industriels and Volvo Truck. Other challenges VW faces include competition in the fast-growing car market in China, where the German carmaker’s sales have dropped by 5.8 per cent this year.

The companies agreed to spend more than $1bn, including $83.4m in penalties, to settle the case — the biggest civil fine to that point for violating an environmental law. A cynic might invoke that old idiom, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” But car buyers don’t have the wherewithal to conduct their own independent tests of emissions and mileage. The Automobile Protection Association (APA) said Volkswagen will eventually issue a recall and fix the emissions systems, although that may reduce engine power or increase fuel consumption.

The APA said VW will likely have to provide compensation for any reduction in performance or may even offer to buy back vehicles for their current market value, plus a small premium. “The longer the new 2015 and 2016 models stay off the road, the scarcer good, used diesels will become.

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