Volkswagen cheated. It’s as simple as that. At the end of the day, however, the consequences of Volkswagen’s decisions will have a great and problematic impact on the company, the environment, and in one way or another, the entire diesel industry in the United States. Diesel World readers (especially those who drive Volkswagen) deserve a swift and comprehensive explanation of recent events, and quite frankly, so does anyone who drives diesel. If you haven’t digested the story in whole, here’s the latest rundown.
WHY DID VOLKSWAGEN CHEAT?
We don’t know. Either the company couldn’t figure out how to pass EPA regulations the proper way, or they didn’t care to. What we do know is that TDI engines as far back as 2009 until present have been rigged to pass EPA inspections despite the fact that they emit 40x the legal levels of NOx and other pollutants into the air.
HOW DID VW PULL THIS OFF?
Defeat devices. VW fitted complex, illegal software into its engines that recognizes when the vehicle is under inspection so that it can activate full emissions control, significantly reducing emissions and allowing for the vehicle to achieve a passing test. VW called them “defeat devices.” However, back on the road, the vehicle is unrestrained, as emissions control is discharged or greatly reduced. The result then is higher fuel economy at the cost of the environment.
WHAT’S THE DAMAGE TO THE ENVIRONMENT?
As of last, the EPA states that in the U.S. alone, between 10,392 and 482,000 tons of NOx were released into the air by the unrestrained vehicles. Worldwide, between 237,161 and 948,691 tons of NOx were emitted. NOx can cause both environmental damage and create health risks, such as severe asthma. Experts agree that the damage to the environment is difficult to estimate and is certainly irrevocable.
WILL VOLKSWAGEN PAY FOR THE DAMAGES?
Absolutely. So far, the company has set aside 7.3 billion to compensate for recalls, lawsuits and fines issued by different parties and nations affected by the 11 million illegally rigged vehicles sold by VW. However, when it’s all said and done, VW is going to look at much heftier reparations than 7.3 billion. In the United States alone, the EPA can possibly slap the company with 18 billion worth of fines, or nearly $40,000 for each VW diesel sold.
CAN VW AFFORD TO PAY?
That’s not certain. When we went to press, VW’s market share had plummeted by 50%. However, the company is the largest manufacturer of vehicles in the world and has a reserve of 31 billion in case things get real hairy. Considering the current climate, it looks like VW is going to have to dip deep into the reserve tank.
WHAT ABOUT VW’S LEADERSHIP? WHO’S RESPONSIBLE, AND CAN THEY FACE JAIL TIME?
CEO of Volkswagen Martin Winterkom has stepped down, turning in his resignation with an admission of, “Volkswagen needs a fresh start.” Winterkom has accepted full responsibility for the company’s present situation but has denied knowledge of the manufacturer’s willingness to cheat. Yet, it’s highly unlikely that Winterkom did not know about the defeat devices. Deciding to deceive consumers and officials on a global scale was not a low level call.
In the meantime, Matthias Muller, 62, has succeeded Winterkom as CEO and has vowed to make the company as transparent as possible. The likelihood that Winterkom and or the VW executives held responsible for the fraudulent activities will face jail time is not high. History shows that executive officials have a way of slipping out of all the legal powers’ grip at the most opportune times. Winterkom’s decision to step down before investigations deepen was a savvy move.
WHAT IF I OWN A TDI? WHAT MODELS WERE AFFECTED AND WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Nothing. At least until the EPA releases another statement, the agency’s order for now was not to alter anything, in any way. Trying to remove the defeat devices or tampering with exhaust can only worsen the situation and release even more NOx into the atmosphere. The EPA is aware of the nearly 500,000 VW diesels in the U.S. and need to implement sound and thorough procedures for testing before the recall is issued. The models affected were the Jetta, Beetle, Golf, Passat and Audi A3.
UNVEILED: 2017 FORD SUPER DUTY
Ford just introduced the all-new 2017 Ford F-Series Super Duty as the toughest, smartest, and most capable truck lineup ever. And with the first ever military-grade aluminum alloy body, 16 new class-exclusive features (including seven cameras, complete 360-degree view surrounding the Super Duty and all-new SYNC 3 communication system) along with the 350 lb. lighter body designed for better hauling and towing, sounds like Ford may have some stake to its claim. The diesel option is offered with the 6.7-liter Power Stroke and from the stronger axles, springs and suspension to brand new transmissions and world-class features, this rig was built for the hard working.
- 95 percent high-strength steel offering 24x stiffer than previous frame.
- Military grade aluminum alloy body.
- SYNC 3 communication and entertainment system, featuring: voice recognition, graphical interface, and smartphone-like 8-inch touch screen.
- Blind Spot Information System.
- Lane departure warning/adaptive cruise control and collision warning (when other driver steers too closely, red lights and warning sounds chime).
- Improved towing and payload capability.
- Highest combination of power and torque ever.
Ford Motor Company