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Volkswagen Cheated Emissions Testing

 
 
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2015 08:32 am
As an engineer, I find this one an absolutely stunning headline: Volkswagen Used 'Defeat Device' To Skirt Emissions Rules, EPA Says

Volkswagen stock is down over 20% right now on the news, all of their diesel models are being pulled off of showroom floors and their 2016 diesel models have not be approved for sale. Also, these "clean diesel" cars received hefty tax incentives, adding another layer of fraud. I find the idea of a bunch of engineers devising sophisticated software to change engine performance only during emissions testing ludicrous, and then to actually implement it is just amazing malfeasance. Of course it took several years for them to get caught. (Interesting story on why they got caught.) And if you bought one of these, you are screwed. Of course there is a recall, but who is going to take their car in to have the engine detuned, dramatically reducing its performance? What kind of resale can you expect? The lawsuit is going to be really impressive. The question is "will anyone go to jail?"
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2015 08:40 am
@engineer,
It's a fascinating, awful, crazy, story.

Volkswagen stock has dropped further in the 20 or so minutes since you posted this.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2015 08:41 am
@ehBeth,
It looks like the company value has fallen by $25 billion and it is facing potentially $18 billion in fines.

The tragic thing is Volkswagen has been known as one of the good guys - good business practices, good cars.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  2  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2015 08:48 am
@engineer,
Yes, I found this event pretty amazing as well. It's one thing for a large company to have production errors (like Honda and Toyota recalls), but it's quite another for a company to actively undertake a deception like this. I wonder how far up the management chain an understanding of what was happening went.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2015 08:55 am
As a two time VW owner in days of yore, I am sorry to read all this. I remember riding in one for the first time, back in Chicago, c. 1955, very odd to us then.
0 Replies
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2015 09:46 am
@engineer,
Quote:
I find the idea of a bunch of engineers devising sophisticated software to change engine performance only during emissions testing ludicrous, and then to actually implement it is just amazing malfeasance. Of course it took several years for them to get caught.


From a purely technical standpoint (ignoring the ethical side of engineering) this was an impressive bit of trickery. There is apparently an old trucking trick to slowly remove emissions controls (to boost efficiency) bit by bit over the course of a trip, but this was more complex than that.

The sleuthing to find it was also interesting. I would have thought that this type of malfeasance would come to light from a whistle blower.
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2015 10:32 am
http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/volkswagen-emissions-rigging-1.3236548?cid=

Quote:
UPDATED
Volkswagen Canada halts some sales as emissions rigging scandal deepens
VW chief 'deeply sorry' after EPA accuses company of rigging emissions tests
CBC News Posted: Sep 21, 2015 9:00 AM ET Last Updated: Sep 21, 2015 12:04 PM ET


Quote:
Volkswagen Canada has stopped sales of many of its diesel models in this country following revelations late last week that the automaker had rigged emissions tests for almost 500,000 diesel cars in the U.S.

"Volkswagen Canada has issued a stop-sale order to our dealers for all of the affected vehicles pending resolution of this matter," company spokesman Thomas Tetzlaff said in an email to CBC News on Monday.
0 Replies
 
rosborne979
 
  2  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2015 10:40 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:
I would have thought that this type of malfeasance would come to light from a whistle blower.

This is the thing that makes it really weird and really concerning, because it's virtually impossible for a single software engineer to do this and try to slip it through. It must have been designed and approved by the engineering team, at least with the approval of a manger. Otherwise it implies they have an engineering process in which a single engineer can push final code into production without any oversight from management or others on the team. I suppose that's "possible", but it seems incredibly unlikely, and if it's true, it shows a huge flaw in their entire production software process.

This whole incident reminds me of the recent Apple Developer Hack, not in the malfeasance, but in the risk consumers face from flaws or weaknesses in production processes of large corporations, particularly with regard to software releases.

Here's the article on the Apple Hack: http://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-targeted-as-hackers-infect-popular-chinese-mobile-apps-with-malware-1442750168

Again, Apple shows no signs of any wrongdoing with their own event, which is crucially different from what appears to have happened at VW, but there is a similarity in the general risk for consumers.
engineer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2015 11:46 am
@rosborne979,
I agree, the size of the organization that did this really makes it unusual. How did they do this without somebody with some scruples finding out?

We had a department meeting here over lunch and VW was a topic of idle conversation. It's already become a joke. Can't solve a technical problem, just hire the VW Quality team.
rosborne979
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2015 12:15 pm
@engineer,
engineer wrote:
I agree, the size of the organization that did this really makes it unusual. How did they do this without somebody with some scruples finding out?
Exactly.

engineer wrote:
had a department meeting here over lunch and VW was a topic of idle conversation. It's already become a joke. Can't solve a technical problem, just hire the VW Quality team.
Ha Smile I guess it's only a matter of time before they start calling it "VWgate".

parados
 
  2  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2015 12:22 pm
@rosborne979,
They might call it VW-hatch instead.

I am trying to get my mind around 2 teams with different goals, one for performance and the other for emissions as the possible cause. But it keeps coming back to the emissions only working during non driving times. Someone had to make the decision to turn off or disable the part of the code that dealt with emissions.
Walter Hinteler
 
  2  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2015 01:28 pm
@parados,
No car here (in Germany, and all Europe, I think) ever got the results in day-by-day driving as they got in the official tests.
So I never believed those data.

But what happened now, is really astonishing.
And besides the question, how this could happen at VW, I wonder, if this only happened at VW (or the Volkswagen group ... AUDI, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, SEAT, Skoda, Porsche .... and VW)
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2015 01:47 pm
Here is a pretty good summary of the issue: http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1100125_vw-diesel-emissions-recall-what-you-need-to-know-in-10-questions/page-1

One interesting point is that in several states, your car is legal, but the state might not allow a buyer to re-register the car after a sale.
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2015 02:39 pm
@engineer,
Wikipedia has a list of Volkswagen Group diesel engines. Interesting, what other brands outside the Volkswagen group have got them as well.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2015 03:21 pm
@parados,
V-Dub-Flat

Double U trouble

0 Replies
 
parados
 
  1  
Reply Mon 21 Sep, 2015 08:24 pm
@engineer,
Thanks for the link.
Walter Hinteler
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2015 04:43 am
@parados,
The software has been integrated in many (most) VW-Group's diesel engines. But it actually works "only" in type EA 189 engines. And that means, "just" 11 million cars are effected. (Source: Volkswagen press report via dpa/AFP)
hawkeye10
 
  2  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2015 05:22 am
We will see how people take this. If the results are that people dont trust this company anymore then they are in big trouble. Maybe many are like me though and think that cheating to get past a government emissions test is low harm and low foul. This pretty much gets a "whatever" from me. If it caused me resale problems then I might change my opinion but I dont know that this will happen. If this was cheating on a safety test or a fuel mileage test I would be less forgiving.
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2015 05:48 am
@Walter Hinteler,
Quote:
[...]
In a statement, Volkswagen said: “Further internal investigations conducted to date have established that the relevant engine management software is also installed in other Volkswagen Group vehicles with diesel engines.

“For the majority of these engines the software does not have any effect. Discrepancies relate to vehicles with Type EA 189 engines, involving some 11m vehicles worldwide. A noticeable deviation between bench test results and actual road use was established solely for this type of engine.

“Volkswagen is working intensely to eliminate these deviations through technical measures. The company is therefore in contact with the relevant authorities and the German Federal Motor Transport Authority.”

The carmaker insisted in the statement that new diesel vehicles available in the European Union with the EU 6 diesel engines “comply with legal requirements and environmental standards”.

It added: “The software in question does not affect handling, consumption or emissions. This gives clarity to customers and dealers.”

It added: “Volkswagen does not tolerate any kind of violation of laws whatsoever. It is and remains the top priority of the board of management to win back lost trust and to avert damage to our customers. The group will inform the public on the further progress of the investigations constantly and transparently.”
[...]
Source
0 Replies
 
Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 22 Sep, 2015 05:50 am
@Walter Hinteler,
From the above quoted Guardian-report:
Quote:
UK campaign group Transport & Environment (T&E) warned that millions of cars could be recalled. T&E’s diesel expert Jos Dings said: “Our latest report demonstrated that almost 90% of diesel vehicles didn’t meet emission limits when they drive on the road. We are talking millions of vehicles.”
0 Replies
 
 

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