Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
Transportation Earth

Volkswagen CEO Issues Apology Over Emission-Cheating Software 301

cartechboy writes: Last Friday we learned that Volkswagen got caught cheating on emissions testing via software programming. The punishment? It could get slapped with up to $18 billion in fines. While the company has yet to admit to any wrong doing, the CEO has now issued a formal apology and said the automaker will cooperate fully with any and all investigations. It's issued a stop-sale on all new and used TDI vehicles until further notice. VW's currently in talks with the EPA and the California Air Resources Board in regards to these allegations. It's also ordered an external investigation of its own into the matter. Whether criminal charges will be filed is yet to be seen.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Volkswagen CEO Issues Apology Over Emission-Cheating Software

Comments Filter:
  • by bob_super ( 3391281 ) on Monday September 21, 2015 @05:55PM (#50569949)

    When Toyota had the audacity of becoming number 1, their CEO got dragged in front of the US congress about some acceleration issues.
    VW just made the mistake of becoming number 1, and suddenly we discover they've been cheating at emissions. Expect a congress hearing and lots of demands for sanctions.

    Was there a punishment when GM recently had a major oops?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Was there a punishment when GM recently had a major oops?

      Nope, their whole ignition switch failure was swept under the rug with only about 20 million vehicles recalled, and a paltry 900 million dollar forfeiture.

      • The GM fine was for a design defect which the company refused to acknowledge. The Toyota fine was due to loose (defective) floor mats which happened to coincide with overblown hype about unintended acceleration (it is physically impossible for the engine to overpower the brakes, and the most famous incident was fabricated by someone trying to make money off it).

        This VW diesel thing is about deliberately cheating on emissions tests, not some unforeseen defect. I'd be very surprised if the fine was less
    • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Monday September 21, 2015 @06:45PM (#50570351)

      cheating at emissions

      This wasn't just some simple "cheating" . . . this was large scale "fraud". If the Feds in the US wanted to, they could RICO VW. That would essentially put them out of business in the US. But VW has a puny market share in the US, when compared to other foreign auto producers in the VW or Audi price range. So the government in the US is probably thinking of what the collateral damage would be for VW car dealerships, independent mechanics, etc. VW got the worst possible penalty that anyone can levy: the VW stock got mauled. Their brand has been emasculated.

      But the worst is yet to come. Germans take their reputation for great engineering very seriously. The German government is now pissed off at this as well. For Americans, this would be like a team cheating in the Super Bowl. Germans and their cars, have a relationship like Americans do with their guns.

      The CEO of VW can start cleaning out his desk, and a bunch of executives will be headless in the coming weeks, as well. That serves them right. However, in typical corporate fashion, VW will end up firing ordinary, innocent workers, who had nothing to do with the fraud at all.

      • by tipo159 ( 1151047 ) on Monday September 21, 2015 @07:33PM (#50570685)

        The CEO of VW can start cleaning out his desk, and a bunch of executives will be headless in the coming weeks, as well. That serves them right. However, in typical corporate fashion, VW will end up firing ordinary, innocent workers, who had nothing to do with the fraud at all.

        Written by someone who does not understand the on-going boardroom drama at VW.

        The VW Group CEO (Winterkorn) recently came out ahead in a boardroom battle in April. I have to wonder if his Winterkorn's opponent (Piech) knew that this was coming.

      • by ksheff ( 2406 )

        That would essentially put them out of business in the US. But VW has a puny market share in the US, when compared to other foreign auto producers in the VW or Audi price range. So the government in the US is probably thinking of what the collateral damage would be for VW car dealerships, independent mechanics, etc.

        VW also manufactures vehicles in the US, so if they were to go out of business in the US, that plant would have to close.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Of course all that by far the majority of people care about, will they finally go after the psychopathic executives that scored big bonuses by doing this or will those frauds just laugh as their foolish investors get punished for the fraud of the executives. How about finally for once, custodial sentences for the executives who made the decisions and implemented the fraud.

    • So you are saying that these claims are made up? Or that if VW wasn't #1 (not even sure if this is true), that they wouldn't be held accountable?
  • by Paleolibertarian ( 930578 ) on Monday September 21, 2015 @05:55PM (#50569955) Journal

    I suppose I'll have to get my firmware updated which will cut my performance down. I could decline the recall but then I probably wouldn't be able to pass the emissions here in CA to get my tag renewed.

    Goodby 42 MPG.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 21, 2015 @06:01PM (#50570015)

      Based on summary - you will pass emission test easily:)

      • Based on summary - you will pass emission test easily:)

        No, I'm sure the emission testing folks will know about this car and will make sure it has the recall installed before testing.

    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      Up next VW cars fuel economy gauge's found to be incorrect......Wait that's really a thing?? http://www.edmunds.com/fuel-ec... [edmunds.com]

      Crap I thought I was going to be able to make a prediction here but it already happened darn.

      • This is correct. I have never seen 42 MPG in actuality. I drive 75-80 mph on the highway so my mileage is more like 34 mpg. I can go over 500 miles on one 14.5 gallon tank of diesel which is pretty darn good for a car which has excellent performance and handling. Unfortunately my bladder won't go 500 miles so I have to stop at least twice without buying fuel for each time I do. I feel guilty about using the facilities so I usually buy a big diet coke which just fills my bladder sooner. Oh what to do???

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Khyber ( 864651 )

          Well, with "Paleo" in your name, I'm quite guaranteed you don't have a clue what you're talking about. As if you had a fucking clue what "Paleo" really means.

        • This is correct. I have never seen 42 MPG in actuality. I drive 75-80 mph on the highway so my mileage is more like 34 mpg.

          Yup. At that speed, most of your power is being used to push air out of the way. Add another 10 MPH, and you should be hitting the 20's.

          http://sciencelearn.org.nz/Sci... [sciencelearn.org.nz]

          It's pretty dramatic.

    • When did California start requiring smog checks on diesels?
      • by slew ( 2918 )

        When did California start requiring smog checks on diesels?

        AFAIK, since 2010 [ca.gov], CA has required diesels newer than 1998 model year to go to smog check stations. I think they just check the OBDC and to a visual inspection (EVAP and smoke).

      • I think only diesels older than 1990 (don't quote me.) are exempt. My 1989 Dodge diesel truck is dirtier than heck and doesn't have to get tested for anything. I have to get my VW tested every 2 years. My wifes gasser is exempt for 5 or six years I think. It's only a year old though. I just renewed my tags so I have a year to figure out what to do. Maybe somebody will hack a cheater program or I can move out of state which is looking like a better option than living in the People's Republic of Taxifornia.

    • The diesel models in question don't use a urea (Ad-Blue) injection system to reduce NOx emissions. Faced with the potential liability of nearly half a million diesel VW owners wanting to return their cars, I think VW best choice will turn out to be doing the right (if financially painful) thing. Come up with a way to retrofit all those cars with a urea-injection system, issue a recall which installs the system for free, give free urea refills (about $40/10,000 miles), and maybe a small cash compensation f
  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdflat. c o m> on Monday September 21, 2015 @06:04PM (#50570047) Journal

    .... that testers will stop trusting a car's own reports about its emissions?

    If not, nothing was learned here. Either by accident or intentionally, it will happen again, eventually.

    • My understanding is that the car actually does have better emissions in a certain "mode", which is enabled when various parameters hint that testing is being performed (IE the car is on a dynamo). Inputs cited are steering changes (if the steering wheel doesn't budge as you gradually go from 0 to 65 MPH, then it's probably on a dynamo), barometric changes (sensitive to even the slightest changes in elevation or as airspeed increases, which, again, are static when on a dynamo), etc. That is one of the reas

      • I own one of the vehicles in the recall. It's test mode where DPF regen occurs more often and fuel is injected earlier in the powerstroke than normal for a hotter burn to reduce NOx. earlier in the power stroke results in less mpg and less performance. So I want a full refund. They committed fraud.
  • by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Monday September 21, 2015 @06:06PM (#50570071) Journal

    No I didn't RTFS but exactly what would the criminal charges be in a case like this? There was something similar a while back in which some car maker used a distinct programing settings in the ECM which allowed fuel economy to be inflated but shipped a different version so the consumer didn't complain the car was a turd in performance. As far as I know, the only thing that came of that was a change in economy measurement standards and revised estimates.

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      http://www.nytimes.com/1995/12... [nytimes.com]

      That one with Caddy in the '90s? No criminal charges. They programmed the ECU to recognize the test cycle and modify the programming to game the test. Similar to the issue here, but not exactly.

      They shipped what was tested. If your daily driving happened to match the test cycle exactly, it was theoretically possible to trigger the hidden code, but in practice, it probably never happened.
  • Why did they do this? Did they think they could get away with it?
  • Saavik: On the test, sir... will you tell me what you did? I would really like to know.

    McCoy: Lieutenant, you are looking at the only Starfleet cadet who ever beat the no-win scenario.

    Saavik: How?

    Kirk: I reprogrammed the simulation so it was possible......

    Saavik: What?

    David Marcus: He cheated.

    Kirk: I changed the conditions of the test; got a commendation for original thinking. I don't like to lose.

  • That settles it, Sir!
  • by BenJeremy ( 181303 ) on Monday September 21, 2015 @06:46PM (#50570357)

    In the German press, the CEO is already painting this as a bunch of rogue American engineers doing this.

    One problem: If there was any engineering in the US, it was probably only to tweak the existing calibrations. It's pretty rare to see the actual source to ECUs, which is mostly unchanged over long periods of time. Most of the adjustments made are in the calibrations - a checksummed block of mapped constants in the ROM image file where the symbolic map has been exported by the compiler.

    As somebody who has actually authored calibration tools used in the automotive industry, and worked on some of the software used to provide version control, I have a pretty clear idea of what is going on here.

    In this case, the code itself - the algorithms used in the ECU, specifically disabled emissions controls (either by an alternative set of calibrations, or by skipping entire routines) when in Emissions Test Mode. If it's using an alternative set of calibrations... it still demands an answer to why it would need a second set of calibrations to begin with.

    Sadly, the press and many of the investigators involved in this will probably not understand the techical aspects of this, and why this is a fundamental cheat that could only have been created by the team that engineered the ECU.

    • by toonces33 ( 841696 ) on Monday September 21, 2015 @07:00PM (#50570465)

      I call BS on that. There is no way that a rogue engineer would do such a thing on their own - they would only do it because management wanted them to.

      For that matter, you can't even sneeze in the auto industry without there being a paper trail. Once the investigators start digging they will find all kinds of stuff about the requirements and specifications documents that preceded the actual software changes. You will find the actual engineers who did the work, and you will find the people who signed off on it when the work was done...

      • by x0ra ( 1249540 )
        this is the same as Abu Ghraib's torture case, only the underlying go to jail (when they do), the brass knew, we know they knew, but they get their ass saved.
      • by Chirs ( 87576 )

        Doesn't necessarily mean that it's upper management in Europe though...could be the management of the American design team.

        I'm very curious to see how this plays out. Wonder how much of the truth will come out.

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )

          Wonder how much of the truth will come out.

          None. If the investigation turns up something, the information will be sealed. Nothing will make it to you and me about who ordered the alteration, and how it worked. I suspect that EPA tests will be declared National Security issues before it's all over. Nothing gets shared with us.

    • by Chirs ( 87576 )

      It's not impossible that the team assigned to get it to pass US EPA testing could have done something like this without the knowledge of upper management.

      As someone with an engineering degree, I'm saddened that they would do something this shady. Professional Engineers are supposed to act ethically.

      And seriously...did they really think nobody would ever find out?

    • "Sadly, the press and many of the investigators involved in this will probably not understand the techical aspects of this, and why this is a fundamental cheat that could only have been created by the team that engineered the ECU."

      There's no problem understanding it even without the slightest knowledge about ECUs. In fact, the problem would be if by any remote chance the ECU team was not involved.

      Prosecutor: This a basic IF...THEN...ELSE. (if in emissions test then do this, else do that). IF...THEN...ELSE

    • Someone tell me how software can "disable emissions controls"? I mean, I don't think there is an "emissions control" thingy that the software says "stop working now", is there?

  • I recently passed over getting a TDI in lieu of a 2.5 gas. My initial reason for passing on the TDI was the known issues with failure of the High Pressure Fuel System (HPFS). A quick google on TDI HPFS will confirm, also see below. I live in california and am not a fan of the California Air Resources Board CARB and having to pay a premium for emissions components over other states - try $500 for a new CAT vs $200 in other states.This is a major blow as TDI were a nice alternative to Hybrids, especially wit

  • by burtosis ( 1124179 ) on Monday September 21, 2015 @07:08PM (#50570513)
    This will be reduced to some completely unimportant sum like 18 million. Further its hilarious how the CEO is blaming rogue American engineers when it's clearly a upper management decision. Reading 'they launched an independent investigation' actually made me spit up my coffee it was so hilarious.
    • by gnupun ( 752725 )

      $18 billion is a ridiculously high fine. Has any company been charged such an amount? This is not a fine, it's more like a company death sentence. VW made $14 billion profit in 2014, so no way can they afford or are liable for something as high as $18 billion for one error.

  • Is he sorry they did it, or sorry they got caught?
  • The apology (Score:5, Informative)

    by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Monday September 21, 2015 @08:13PM (#50570895)

    Full text: "We're sorry we got caught!"

  • Why didn't they just include the DEF injection system and offer an "economy"/low-power mode to drive without DEF, but with increased performance with the DEF reservoir filled? It's a whole lot better than having a diesel vehicle which refuses to start when you're out of DEF and the local filling station doesn't have any in stock.

  • The lesson here is to use hardware to cheat the emissions testing. We have been doing that on most every car for about 40 years, injecting air into the exhaust to lower the ratio of emissions.
  • Have we learned nothing from the quack3.exe fiasco?

  • My 2014 TDI at 80mph in 6th gear and no traffic gets 56mpg. In moderate traffic @ 50 - 65mph I get no less than 42mpg. I am a gear head and I know you would need to adjust the fuel injection (no spark it's a diesel) to occur a little before the power stroke to get a hotter burn and reduce NOx. The problem is this will reduce performance and mpg.. both the main reasons why I bought a diesel tdi. I want my money back. once the ecu is updated to be EPA compliant the car will not perform as well and
  • it's amazing what people think they can hide in code, on a chip, and in the wiring to that chip.

    i am not saying they're all cheating on emissions..

    i assume it's all wide open to "gaming"..

    is it not?

Anything free is worth what you pay for it.

Working...