US, EU vow emissions crackdown in wake of VW scandal

26 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

EPA says will ‘aggressively’ test other models after VW.

With its stock prices plummeting, federal fines looming and a changing of the guard, this has been a rough week for the Volkswagen Group. WASHINGTON • The Environmental Protection Agency said Friday that it will launch sweeping changes to the way it tests for diesel emissions after getting duped by clandestine software in Volkswagen cars for seven years.SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — The top U.S. environmental regulator says she wants to make sure Volkswagen’s use of software in its vehicles to evade U.S. auto emissions limits was a “one-off,” and other models will be tested aggressively to determine if other carmakers are trying to defeat pollution tests. In a letter to car manufacturers, the EPA said it will add on-road testing to its regimen, “using driving cycles and conditions that may reasonably be expected to be encountered in normal operation and use, for the purposes of investigating a potential defeat device” similar to the one used by Volkswagen. The hullabaloo also exposed flaws and gaps in the US Environmental Protection Agency’s emissions testing practices that allowed Volkswagen to sell some 482,000 emissions skirting vehicles in the US over the course of seven years.

The company’s CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned on Thursday after saying he would do no such thing on Tuesday and now other auto manufacturers are being dragging into the scandal. Such testing can be expected in addition to the standard emissions test cycles when Emissions Data Vehicles (EDV), and Fuel Economy Data Vehicles (FEDV) are tested by EPA.” TL;DR?

Reuters points out a tweet posted Thursday by Italian Transport Minister Graziano Delrio stating there will be 1,000 sample checks for all automakers selling vehicles in Italy. That’s not surprising given how Volkswagen’s defeat devices apparently worked — detecting when only one set of wheels were moving so it could turn it on during the test and turn it off for standard, on-the-road driving. Regulators worldwide are miffed in the wake of VW’s admission that as many as 11 million of its diesel cars sold globally are outfitted with the emission cheating software.

Chris Grundler, head of the EPA’s office of transportation and air quality, defended the agency’s testing procedures, noting that passenger vehicles with diesel engines account for far less than 1 per cent of overall vehicle emissions of nitrogen oxides and other pollutants. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., said he was frustrated that regulatory agencies such as the EPA are failing to protect the public. “Seven years is way too long a time that the EPA has been asleep at the switch,” he said. The VW case has similarities to those involving General Motors ‘ defective ignition switches and Takata Corp.’s exploding air bag inflators, where it also took years before those problems were disclosed to consumers, Nelson said. VW was able to fool the EPA because the agency only tested the cars on treadmill-like devices called dynamometers and didn’t use portable test equipment on real roads.

The software in the cars’ engine-control computers checked the speed, steering wheel position, air pressure and other factors to determine when dynamometer tests were underway. The EPA says about 500,000 U.S. cars including the Jetta, Golf, Beetle, Passat and Audi A3 have the cheating software, and VW says a total of 11 million cars have it worldwide. VW started the scheme with the 2009 model year, and may not have been caught without testing performed at West Virginia University on behalf of the International Council on Clean Transportation, a non-profit group that advises governments on regulations.

Only when the EPA and the California Air Resources Board refused to approve VW’s 2016 diesel models for sale did the company admit earlier this month what it had done. European regulators were looking into VW’s on-road diesel emissions as far back as 2012, and since diesels make up half the cars there, the EPA decided to let Europe take the lead, he says.

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