Volkswagen cheated on emission tests.....Stocks plummet.
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  1. #1
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    Default Volkswagen cheated on emission tests.....Stocks plummet.

    VW CEO's days appear numbered as emissions crisis deepens

    Clever Germans. You have to admire their gumption.

    I wonder if any OTHER car companies are doing this.

    What say you?

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    Caterpillar did it a while back.

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    My theory is that this is one of the early signs of the Singularity.
    The cars did this on their own- after all, they have computers in ever car (ECU'S) more powerful than pretty much anything on earth in 1960, and millions of lines of code.
    The damn things have become self aware.

    And they knew that the typical VW diesel owner wanted, more than anything else, to be able to brag about their incredible mileage.

    We all know there is, at our current state of IC engine technology, an ironclad 3 way tradeoff (combustion polyamory, if you will) between fuel economy, emissions, and horsepower.

    There aint no free lunch. You want a modern car, that accelerates well, and gets amazing mileage, and STILL passes the emissions test? RIGHT.
    So the cars would change their settings, to give their owners what they wanted.
    Its all about loyalty, and love.

    And, of course, individual owners do this all the time- chip their vehicles, then pull the chip right before the annual tests.

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    VW gets 50 mpg in a mid sized sedan, (my '98 and '03 did) while my american midsized crap is 10 years newer and gets 26....
    Nuff said

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    I wish all the vehicles I own would turn their emissions equipment off after leaving the testing stations.

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    I read about this today. I think VW is in big trouble. Here is an excerpt from one of the articles I have linked below.

    In December, VW issued a voluntary recall of all its U.S. diesel cars from model years 2009-2014. The recall didn't end the matter. CARB, in cooperation with EPA, said it wanted to do "confirmatory" tests, and it ran those beginning in May 2015. In July, CARB notified VW that the test vehicles still showed emissions that exceeded state and federal limits. California shared those results with federal regulators.

    VW attributed the excess emissions to "various technical issues" and "unexpected" real-world conditions. It wasn't until EPA and CARB threatened to withhold certification for the automaker's 2016 diesel models that VW in early September revised its explanation. "Only then did VW admit it had designed and installed a defeat device in these vehicles in the form of a sophisticated software algorithm that detected when a vehicle was undergoing emissions testing," the EPA said in its September 18 letter to
    VW.

    Volkswagen's 'clean diesel' strategy unraveled by outside emissions tests | Reuters

    Factbox: Diesel engines and how VW's 'defeat device' worked | Reuters

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    VW has never been a company with a strong foundation in just about anything. Their engineering has always been shaky, their credibility never anything to write home about. At some point they re-invented themselves and sales took off...but if you look very closely at that reinvention it was based on clever marketing and aesthetics, not anything solid.

    I can't think of a single year in which they produced a 'world leader' vehicle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GregSY View Post

    I can't think of a single year in which they produced a 'world leader' vehicle.
    That doesn't seem to have stopped them from becoming the number 2 or 3 auto maker in the world, depending on the year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by smalltime View Post
    . . . What say you?
    Seems hard to know how folks will feel about this six months or a year from now.

    GM was willing to kill over a hundred people to save a couple cents on ignition switches. It went fairly high in the company; at least the culture that encouraged this. Eventually over 30 million cars were recalled worldwide. And GM had long ago used up it's reservoir of trust and good will among many consumers. Still, today it would be hard to see a dramatic effect on either vehicle sales or stock prices. The company and its executives pretty much got a pass (albeit an expensive one) by the legal process, regulators, investors, and consumers. Seems the only one to lose their livelihood was the whistle blower.

    Toyota, once with an impeccable record of reliability and consumer trust, has had numerous "oops" moments. But, people who liked Toyotas still like Toyotas.

    One thing that hasn't been disclosed yet is how high this went up the VW hierarchy. A couple smart ass programmers looking for a bonus? Or most of the way to the top? That information may have some impact.

    There's at least one way many consumers could give VW a pass sooner than later:

    1) They really don't care about NOX emissions; they just want decent performance and high mileage. Gaming the EPA is OK with them.

    There are at least two ways some consumers could be pissed off for a long time:

    1) Some minority might really care about the environmental impact of NOX.
    2) A larger group, maybe a majority, may be really pissed when their formerly good performing and high mileage VW diesels are "fixed" to become lower performing and less economical. In any case, I don't think we know the impact until we know what the fix is.

    If VW can't provide a fix that meets EPA standards while preserving decent performance and fuel economy, they might well be screwed to an even greater extent than GM. Interesting outcome if that proves true. GM was actually willing to kill people to save a couple cents on ignition switches. VW was willing to pollute cities and increase things like repiratory diseases in order to sell more cars. Both are terrible abuses; but (to me) the GM cover up seems just a bit worse.

    Here's one of many possible scenarios. VW recalls the vehicles and they perform like sloths (since they're now continuously running in pollution test mode). Customers are pissed and sales tank. Someone comes out with a kit to bypass the fix. Millions are sold and VW TDI's become a cult item. Sales are back to normal in a year or two, as the company dedicates itself to making some decent new models.

    Who knows?

    One interesting detail is that GM was only fined around $35 million; mostly for delaying the recall after the information was known. VW faces fines a couple orders of magnitude larger than that -- the reports are around $7 billion.

    FWIW, BP paid about $18 billion in fines and more in clean up. That company's stock dropped from around $55 a share before the spill to below $30, but recovered above $50 a share before dropping again due to the low price of oil. Even larger fines and compensation costs didn't kill the company.

    One thing we do know is that the nice thing about being a bad-acting corporation these days is that you sometimes get all the benefits of being a very wealthy citizen, but aren't much subject to jail time, much less the death penalty. Just consequences paid by average folks and fines paid by investors.

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    The heavy truck diesel engine manufacturers got caught back in about 2007 doing the exact same thing.

    The thing that stuns me is the deception lasted that long. The engine engineers from the competitors had to know what was going on. I'm certain several of the engines were reverse engineered to see how the Germans were passing the emissions tests. I would think if someone had dropped a dime on VW to the EPA it would become very profitable after VW pays its fines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gbent View Post
    The engine engineers from the competitors had to know what was going on.
    Of course they did, as they were probably doing the same thing (on gassers?).

    Quote Originally Posted by PeteM View Post
    GM was actually willing to kill people to save a couple cents on ignition switches. VW was willing to pollute cities and increase things like repiratory diseases in order to sell more cars. Both are terrible abuses; but (to me) the GM case seems just a bit worse.
    Indeed, as in VW's case they are several steps removed from the deed. GM's situation was blatant disregard for human life (because the analysis revealed it was better business to deal with a few lawsuits than to recall hundreds of thousands of cars). And before I get flamed for being a flaming metric-wrench turning, ACHTUNG!-heeding, TDI-counterbalance shaft loving fanboy, it should be noted that I drive Mopar. And hate all cars equally.

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    Yet the EPA is fine with some BS "fixes".... Look at the exhaust tips on new ford and GM diesel trucks. Why are they that way? To pull fresh cool air into the exhaust stream to "improve emissions" and lower EGT!
    This has been in writing!
    Really? We lower emissions by blending the same amount of crap to a higher volume of clean air... That's a fix???

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    To PeteM's point about people not getting the advertised performance after a fix and because of this not getting them fixed. The government could withhold licenses until proof of repair is presented. No fix, no car.

    Tom

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeteM View Post
    One thing we do know is that the nice thing about being a bad-acting corporation these days is that you sometimes get all the benefits of being a very wealthy citizen, but aren't much subject to jail time, much less the death penalty.
    At least the 'jail time' in Nawth America is starting to change on food safety.

    China, has of course, been a 'leader' in that space as to taking the miscreants out and shooting them. That said, I'm not one to class it as non-political, OR necessarily a 'good thing'.

    Jail time for bad-actor Execs, PLUS disgrace and poverty thereafter, OTOH?

    That we could probably class as long overdue, and not just on food OR vehicles.

    But with OUR for-sale legal and political system only nominally all that more 'moral' or effective than that of other developed 'western' ethos countries?

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?



    Bill

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    Quote Originally Posted by TDegenhart View Post
    To PeteM's point about people not getting the advertised performance after a fix and because of this not getting them fixed. The government could withhold licenses until proof of repair is presented. No fix, no car.

    Tom

    My guess is that some combination of the Federal and State governments will require a fix and an emissions test. But a second guess is that some tuner will come up with a bit of hardware and software to keep that fix in place only when the vehicle goes in for inspection. We just might be running around in circles for quite a while from this mess.

    My gut feel is that VW will recover -- which is OK with me. What won't be OK with me is if corporate status shields the actual perpetrators from major jail time.

    I'd like to think the continuous stream of events like this will lead to the kind of legal action that will have execs think twice before screwing society, customers, employees, and investors to make a bonus.

    On edit: as Bill notes, the jail sentences for the company owners knowingly selling contaminated peanut butter (killing some, sickening thousands) are a start. Of course, that company wasn't "too big to fail." Our justice system isn't all that blind. Martha Stewart gets jail time for lying about making a few bucks by acting on inside information. But, no one at companies like Goldman Sachs spends a night in jail for knowingly deceiving their own customers, making billions on inside information, and leading to trillions of lost value worldwide.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeteM View Post
    Seems hard to know how folks will feel about this six months or a year from now.

    There's at least one way many consumers could give VW a pass sooner than later:

    1) They really don't care about NOX emissions; they just want decent performance and high mileage. Gaming the EPA is OK with them.
    EPA having metastasized from Nixon's clean air agency to an unaccountable power-mad Hydra, I'd more than give VW a pass. Software that recognizes emissions test mode and adjusts to compensate? What a brilliant, anarchic concept, a technical coup for the ages.
    It could be a Robert Redford movie except that in this case the hackers work for eeeevil private industry. Large, international private industry at that. And here I thought they were supposed to be plotting to take over the world, instead they were gaming the federal regulators to give their customers the cars they wanted. I bet they already calculated the publicity will redound to their benefit or they wouldn't have taken the chance.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldwrench View Post
    EPA having metastasized from Nixon's clean air agency to an unaccountable power-mad Hydra, I'd more than give VW a pass. Software that recognizes emissions test mode and adjusts to compensate? What a brilliant, anarchic concept, a technical coup for the ages. . . .
    Not quite a victim-less crime: Health effects of diesel exhaust emissions | European Respiratory Society

    Respiratory diseases are the second leading cause of death in urban areas. But compared to the GM case this may be more like aggravated assault or second degree murder than first degree (premeditated) murder attending the ignition switch decisions. Someone will likely do the calculations (x hundred thousand VW diesels, concentrated where, with 50x emissions, leading to Y more deaths).

    We both seem to think VW will likely end up OK after some time. I just think it will take a lot longer if VW can't come up with a fix the retains decent performance and fuel economy.

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    I'm more inclined to buy a VW now, not less. And I seem to remember hearing about cars doing this like 15-20 years ago, this is nothing new. They just got caught. I think all three US manufacturers tried to pull similar stunts along they way, and I know that's how Toyota got their Prius numbers so high. The car knew when it was being tested, and drove extra slow to boost the economy. I think Honda got caught doing something similar, but I can't remember which car. I believe yoeu can actually buy a chip that does the same thing for some cars, plug it in and it drops your emissions when it detects test conditions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Winterfalke View Post
    ...I believe yoeu can actually buy a chip that does the same thing for some cars, plug it in and it drops your emissions when it detects test conditions.
    I'd buy one...if we had emissions testing here in Wyoming, heh, heh.

    It just doesn't get any more deliciously politically incorrect that that. Right on, fight the power.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Winterfalke View Post
    I'm more inclined to buy a VW now, not less. . .
    Bet you can't wait for clean coal?

    More seriously, this thread may give a hint to how large the group is (you and Oldwrench so far) that find nothing wrong in the VW actions, as long as performance and fuel economy aren't messed up in the fix.

    Most folks don't mind pissing in the swimming pool. It's when they find everyone else is doing it, too, that they start having second thoughts.

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