Some four-plus months have now elapsed since news of the scandal revolving around emissions-altering software known to be present in at least 11 million diesel-engine-equipped Volkswagen vehicles worldwide first broke. And yet, nary a spoken nor written word about any real recall action having to do with a sanctioned repair being performed related to setting affected engine emissions right; some of those vehicles identified in the recall continuing to pollute the atmosphere with excess oxides of nitrogen (NOx) emissions at concentrations up to 40 times the limit allowed, the oldest of the affected vehicles sold being six years. As long as said vehicles continue to clock off driven miles, they will pollute the air everyone shares with NOx emissions above a level determined acceptable until such time that an accepted and effective fix is instituted and in effect, and who knows how much time will pass before an established repair plan is in place.
In case it’s unclear what’s being talked about here, from the “What navigating the VW-diesel-vehicle-recall road ahead may look like” posting, there is this: “Vehicle-emissions testing has lately been in the spotlight on account of the controversy surrounding diesel-vehicle-exhaust-emissions rigging in the 11 million Volkswagen diesel-powered motor vehicles affected worldwide, which the company has admitted to. A big problem is how all of the fallout connected with this is going to be dealt with.
“Under emissions-testing procedures, the vehicles’ engines apparently met specifications, that is, absent any further technical (mechanical and/or electrical/electronic) issues. However, when not undergoing emissions testing or under normal operating conditions, that is when in regular operation, the exhaust released contained anywhere from between 10 and 40 times the acceptable amounts of oxides of nitrogen or NOx emissions depending upon vehicle. On-board vehicle software is to blame in this particular circumstance; such referred to as a ‘defeat device’ as per Clean Air Act definition. The motor vehicles affected are the Jetta, Beetle and Golf, model years 2009-2015; the Audi A3, model years 2009-2015; and the Passat, model years 2014-2015.”
The question here seems obvious: How difficult can it be to get this matter resolved? Simple, the answer, apparently, is not, nor will that answer come cheap. There have been reports that this could set the German automaker back by as much as $18 billion when all is said and done, considering all involved – recall work, execution and resolution of lawsuits, etc.
But, getting a bit more real, it can be assumed – probably more than just assumed – that the reason the diesel vehicles were considered for purchasing by a vast majority of those that bought them (why they were appealing, in other words), the long and short of it had to do with an overarching belief that such were deemed to be “kinder” on air, at least, “kinder” than what other so-called less-“clean” diesel models would be, meaning that purchasers had formed this idea in their heads that the vehicles of their choosing would pollute air far less while, at the same time, perform in a way that met expectations.
Or, maybe it was the consensus among buyers that the diesels would be less expensive to operate, maintain, get better gas mileage and be less polluting carbon dioxide- (CO2) wise than even so-called standard internal-combustion-engine-equipped LDVs (light-duty vehicles). Or, perhaps it was both. After all, “carbon-dioxide emissions” for some time, has been quite the catch-phrase, as it relates, of course, to global climate change and maybe it was just that people, in purchasing a “clean diesel,” in their minds’ eyes, felt they were doing what they could to limit or even lower their own carbon footprints. Though, it is difficult to say for sure.
Moving past this in regards to trying to come up with a resolution, put yourself in the driver’s seat, so to speak, and brainstorm in your minds ideas that you think will get at the root of this issue in terms of satisfactorily solving it, all to the mutual liking of all persons involved. Use the comments section to present your ideas.
The challenge, obviously, is bringing these vehicles – 482,000 in the U.S. alone – up to snuff. And, by up to snuff, it is meant that vehicles must meet consumers’ needs in terms of drivability, engine performance, environmental friendliness, and fuel efficiency; in other words, all of the quality-of-the-drive-experience expectations must be met. This is the presumed criteria among those car owners affected.
If that means vehicle buy-backs, engine swaps, emissions-altering technological adjustments need be performed which might or might not include software upgrades, onboard installation of aftermarket exhaust-treatment equipment (with an add-on provision for storage of urea, for example) such as in a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system or other methods to fully resolve this issue, then what must be done, must be done. The cost of languishing in this regard in the interim is just too great in terms of the ongoing negative environmental impact coupled to continued use of the vehicles determined to be air-standard-non-compliant for NOx.
Meanwhile, time marches unchangeably on.
Update 1-29-16: To bring readers more up to speed regarding recall progress, Volkswagen released a statement on Oct. 15, 2015. In this release the company expressed:
“The Volkswagen Group will recall a total of approximately 8.5 million vehicles in Europe (EU28 markets), including some 2.4 million vehicles in Germany, according to KBA. Outside the EU28, each individual country will clarify in detail which emissions classes of the EA 189 engine are in fact affected.”
This was followed two paragraphs later with this:
“Work on the technical solutions detailed in the plan of measures is currently proceeding at full speed. Remedial action on the vehicles will begin in January 2016 – at no cost to our customers. The technical solutions can involve software as well as hardware measures. These are currently being developed for each affected series and each affected model year. All measures will first be presented to the responsible authorities. Volkswagen will subsequently inform the owners of these vehicles over the next weeks and months.”
Then two months and a day later on Dec. 16, 2015, Volkswagen released a subsequent statement. In it the automaker explained:
“In developing the technical measures, finding customer-friendly solutions was an important aspect. The measures for the affected EA189 diesel engines are as follows:
- The 1.2-litre and 2.0-litre engines will get a software update. The pure labour time will be just under half an hour.
- The 1.6-litre engines will also get a software update. In addition, a “flow rectifier” will be fitted right in front of the air mass sensor. The labour time for implementing these measures will be less than an hour.
“These measures apply to Europe (EU-28 markets). After the measures have been implemented, the vehicles will fulfil the duly applicable emissions standards, with the aim of achieving this without any impairment of engine output, fuel consumption or performance.”
It has been confirmed, according to VW, that this plan of remediation has earned approval of the Federal Motor Transport Authority (also referred to as KBA), the remediation measures themselves being fully KBA-ratified.
I plan to provide more related information as it becomes available.