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Transportation Programming

Reports: Volkswagen Was Warned of Emissions Cheating Years Ago 161

An anonymous reader writes: More fuel was thrown on the Volkswagen fire today after two German newspapers reported that Volkswagen's own staff and one of its suppliers warned years ago about software designed to thwart emissions test. Volkswagen declined to comment on the details of either newspaper report. "There are serious investigations underway and the focus is now also on technical solutions" for customers and dealers, a Volkswagen spokesman said. "As soon as we have reliable facts we will be able to give answers."
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Reports: Volkswagen Was Warned of Emissions Cheating Years Ago

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  • by silentbozo ( 542534 ) on Sunday September 27, 2015 @04:44PM (#50609495) Journal
    This is a Reuters news story - why is the submission linking to Newsweek, which locks the article behind their ad wall?

    Here's a Reuters link:

    http://www.reuters.com/article... [reuters.com]
  • by turkeydance ( 1266624 ) on Sunday September 27, 2015 @04:44PM (#50609497)
    there are unreliable facts?
  • Yes. So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Sunday September 27, 2015 @04:50PM (#50609519)

    Why would a "warning" make any difference? They knew what they were doing. You cannot just completely change the emission profile of a motor by magic, so every competent motor designer knew the performance the VW diesel-engines where claiming to have was bogus. That alone will be up to a hundred people. Of course their bosses knew and so did the VW leadership. The really interesting thing is whether this can be proven.

    • Re:Yes. So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@@@nerdflat...com> on Sunday September 27, 2015 @06:59PM (#50610083) Journal
      The warning makes a difference in that it provides a paper trail of evidence that points at some of the specific people who would have known about the issue. That means that it is also possible to know exactly who some of the people that should be facing criminal liability for this issue are.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        If the manager at A or B level are half as clever as those I know, they will have left no paper trail. They will have organized informal meeting with the engineer/C level manager/underling telling them to ignore the things. Face to Face. No per email or paper. The underling will be where the trail end off cold , despite the underling protest they reported the problem there will be no trail. Not the first time I have seen that happen.

        My advice to all "underling" involved in such a story : make sure to make
        • by mark-t ( 151149 )
          If there is a record of a warning, then there already is a paper trail. Where o you think evidence that a warning ever even happened came from?
        • If the manager at A or B level are half as clever as those I know, they will have left no paper trail. They will have organized informal meeting with the engineer/C level manager/underling telling them to ignore the things. Face to Face. No per email or paper. The underling will be where the trail end off cold , despite the underling protest they reported the problem there will be no trail. Not the first time I have seen that happen. My advice to all "underling" involved in such a story : make sure to make a solid paper and email trail leading to your superior. Do not under any circumstance limit yourself to verbal acknowledgment. As for those who will ask me Why no advice to whistleblow ? Well duh because this is the easiest way to not only torpedoe your carrier, but the story will be buried AND nobody will hire you again for your honesty.

          i wonder why they didn't try the "it must have been a virus uploaded into our production system!" ploy.

    • Re:Yes. So? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Sunday September 27, 2015 @09:23PM (#50610565) Homepage

      Why would a "warning" make any difference?

      It's a "cover my ass" letter. Bosch was complicit in coming up with this scam, but wanted to make sure that the final decision to go ahead was clearly VW's. There is no possibility with this letter in existence that VW can deny knowledge and point the finger at their suppliers.

    • " VW diesel-engines where claiming to have was bogus"

      *Were
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Before this becomes Naci bashing thing, just some facts:
    -> this cars are probably illegal only in the USA (where they should conform to almost the same standard as EURO 6) in EU they are declared to be EURO 5
    -> it looks like this motors are only a bit off in the laboratory test (they are almost EURO 6 - but not without the cheat)
    -> in real life all cars produce more exhausts as allowed => problem is in the testing procedure which should be fixed (see reports bellow)
    -> EURO 6 from VW is fine (

    • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Sunday September 27, 2015 @06:34PM (#50609989)

      -> it looks like this motors are only a bit off in the laboratory test (they are almost EURO 6 - but not without the cheat)

      "Only a little bit off"? They emit 10-40 times as much NOx as they're supposed to (EPA source [epa.gov][PDF warning]). That's not "a little bit", that's "actually a fuckload".

      -> EURO 6 from VW is fine (see http://www.theicct.org/nox-con... [theicct.org]) as other German manufacturers, but some others have problems.

      The linked paper only shows test results from a single VW vehicle. Not enough to say anything about VW's general compliance or lack thereof.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "Only a little bit off"? They emit 10-40 times as much NOx as they're supposed to (EPA source [epa.gov][PDF warning]). That's not "a little bit", that's "actually a fuckload".

        Come on.. .. the limit is 0.053 parts per million..... 40 times that 2.12 parts per million. Only in the top 15 polluted cites in the US will the monitors even have a chance of noticing it and that is mostly because there are only 500,000 in the entire US. Europe and Asia the story is obviously different do to the volume of the cars 11M.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Except when it's a significant proportion of the cars on the road that'll easily be noticed by the sensors. It's not an issue when it's a single car, it's when it's hundreds/thousands of them. When 10 cars have the impact on the road of 400 it's noticeable.

        • Come on.. .. the limit is 0.053 parts per million..... 40 times that 2.12 parts per million.

          40X is 40X. The limits exist for a reason and the PPM figures themselves are not important to the discussion. This is no different than any other company illegally dumping or burning toxic waste instead of paying to having it properly disposed of. Just because 2.12 PPM doesn't sound like a lot to you is irrelevant. They had the ability to dispose of this pollutant properly and knowingly chose to pollute instead to save a few bucks. I don't care if they were just barely over the limit or way of the limi

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Come on.. .. the limit is 0.053 parts per million..... 40 times that 2.12 parts per million.

          I had a BAC of 0.053 once and didn't feel that drunk. 2.12 doesn't sound too bad.

      • Once TTIP is in you'll be fine - they will be able to import VWs because they met the European spec. Juts the same as Europe will have to take cars which meet the US crash test criteria but will fail theirs
  • Who Pays (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Sunday September 27, 2015 @05:09PM (#50609595)
    The share holders end up paying for this mess and the share holders never had a clue. Meanwhile the typical manager or executive who was responsible has probably already sold off their shares and are beyond punishment. Seriously when will people get the point that corporations exist in order to avoid responsibility. Doesn't the term LLC (Limited Liability Corporation) declare upfront the intent to not be liable or responsible?
    • Re:Who Pays (Score:5, Informative)

      by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Sunday September 27, 2015 @05:29PM (#50609677)

      No it doesn't. LLC or Limited means that shareholders are only on the hook for the value of their shares if something goes wrong. If you are a shareholder in a non Limited company you can be on the hook for your entire asset pool if something happens. Both forms of corporations exist, however non limiteds are extremely rare.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I believe they call the non-limited liability company a partnership. It would the equivalent of a sole proprietorship. A sole proprietorship isn't all that rare. Pretty much every person operating a business that hasn't incorporated it is doing so knowingly or otherwise as a sole proprietorship. Most small businesses will either setup an LLC to avoid liability or these days a sub chapter s corporation. The courts have 'pierced the veil' of the LLC so now smart business persons are moving to the sub chapter

        • It is a little more complicated because you are looking at different laws between countries. But there is a specific form of Unlimited company, examples include American Express (pre 1965), Credit Suisse International, Land Rover (pre 2013) GlaxoSmithKline Services Unlimited, Apple Computer's Irish subsiduary. In the US they tend to be called Joint-Stock Companies (JSC).

          Partnerships are closely related to sole traders and I do not believe they can be traded on the stock exchange.

    • Re:Who Pays (Score:5, Informative)

      by dunkelfalke ( 91624 ) on Sunday September 27, 2015 @05:39PM (#50609719)

      VW is not a LLC, though. LLC is more like a German GmbH. VW is an AG, a civil law publicly traded corporation..

  • Always a warning (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Tokolosh ( 1256448 ) on Sunday September 27, 2015 @05:23PM (#50609647)

    Whenever something bad happens - 9/11, Challenger, Katrina, Bill Crosby, SUV rollovers, every president, Deepwater Horizon - someone will selflessly step forward and say "I knew it was going to happen, I warned you, but nobody would listen!"

    Next time a screw-up is in the news, pay attention and wait for the inevitable soothsayer.

    • by Feral Nerd ( 3929873 ) on Sunday September 27, 2015 @07:05PM (#50610109)

      Whenever something bad happens - 9/11, Challenger, Katrina, Bill Crosby, SUV rollovers, every president, Deepwater Horizon - someone will selflessly step forward and say "I knew it was going to happen, I warned you, but nobody would listen!"

      Next time a screw-up is in the news, pay attention and wait for the inevitable soothsayer.

      You don't need to be a soothsayer to figure out that cheating on emissions tests and then manufacturing and selling millions of cars based on those falsifications is going to get you into a shitload of trouble. This is especially true if all somebody has to do to catch you red-handed is attach an emissions analyser to the exhaust pipe of one of your cars and drive it through town for a while. Even when the idea of doing this was first proposed it was just bloody obvious it was a dumbs thing to do. Between plunging stock prices, the product recall, the government fines in the US/EU, the class action lawsuits that will doubtless be filed in the USA, law suits by VW stockholders, falling sales and the massive damage to VW's reputation there is a chance this could bankrupt VW. I just got through watching a debate on German TV where they were talking about this costing VW several tens of billions of euros and most of those costs could have been calculated accurately enough to demonstrate the galactic stupidity of cheating on emissions tests years ago and without the use of a crystal ball.

    • Here is the latest example: https://news.yahoo.com/feds-pl... [yahoo.com]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 27, 2015 @05:49PM (#50609765)

    ... to find a couple of middle managers and engineers to throw under the bus.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Every since emissions began to be implemented cheating to bypass them has gone on. From the "test pipe" for catalytic converters to chips that basically fool the system into adding more fuel thus making horsepower or putting custom pipe in place a emissions. Today with VW it simply proves a gradual technical step in trying to get around emissions. I think its clear rather then just simply lightning regulations and testing procedures. We need to be asking how can we make sure almost everyone can accept and m

    • by geoskd ( 321194 ) on Sunday September 27, 2015 @07:39PM (#50610245)

      We are treated this worse then a safety issue where people died.

      This is a safety issue where people are dying. NOx causes premature death and a whole host of respiratory illness'. Just because you can't grab a single person out of the mix and say "this person is specifically dead because of it", doesn't mean that people are not dying as a result of the deception. Its people like you who keep voting for the liars and scumbags that are ruining every democracy in the world. If someone came up with a law to disqualify people with your demonstrated lack of ability to understand consequences, I would support that law, no matter how flawed the test was, just on the basis of having some chance of keeping you and your ilk out of my political system.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        I'm actually wondering if I can sue. I live near a main road, I have respiratory issues. It's looking like a large percentage of diesel cars sold in the UK have this kind of defeat device... I should get some free medical treatment to correct the problems they have caused me.

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      So your argument is that since we have had theft as long as there have been things to steal, it's not really wrong to steal?

      VW defrauded a few million people.

  • hahaha "years ago" (Score:4, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Sunday September 27, 2015 @07:00PM (#50610089) Homepage Journal

    If you just watch Autoline After Hours 303 [youtube.com] (if you're not interested, you can skip all the stuff about the Honda unibody and jump to after the break) you'll hear that the EPA was warning automakers about the illegality of "defeat devices" (terminology which covers device or code) for gaming the emissions tests in the seventies. This is so far from being a new idea, it's not even funny.

    • by srw ( 38421 )
      My 2001 GMC Jimmy had a "secondary oxygen injector pump." When it failed, I tried to figure out what it did. Near as I could tell, all it did was blow extra air into the exhaust while the engine was cold. I guess that reduced the percentage of pollutants coming out the tailpipe before the cat gets warmed up and working. This is really nothing new. The government makes arbitrary tests. Corporations make devices that will pass those tests.
      • My 2001 GMC Jimmy had a "secondary oxygen injector pump." When it failed, I tried to figure out what it did. Near as I could tell, all it did was blow extra air into the exhaust while the engine was cold.

        Yeah, they colloquially call those a "smog pump". There was one on my IROC. It went bad...

      • by Harlequin80 ( 1671040 ) on Monday September 28, 2015 @12:57AM (#50611159)

        When your vehicle is cold the combustion is less complete and there is left over fuel. On top of this your catalytic converter is cold. So air is injected into the exhaust for two reasons. The first is to provide oxygen for unburnt fuel to be burnt and the second was to rapidly increase the temperature of the catalytic converter to it starts working.

        Then once you car is up to temp the air is pumped into the exhaust system just infront of the cat. This allows the cat to be much more efficient and more complete in its transformation.

        They were called smog pumps because they reduced smog. But it wasn't through bending the rules it was actually because it did something to reduce emissions.

        • by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday September 28, 2015 @07:19AM (#50612017) Homepage Journal

          Then once you car is up to temp the air is pumped into the exhaust system just infront of the cat.

          No, that's backwards. The smog pump is only supposed to pump air into the exhaust system until the car is up to temp. When the car is cold, it runs rich, so additional oxygen is needed to make the catalyst burn all the fuel, which in turn makes it come up to temp quicker. Once it comes up to temp, the car goes into closed loop mode and crosses back and forth across a stoichiometric ratio somewhere from 2-10 times a second based on feedback from the O2 sensor[s] and there's no longer any need for a smog pump.

          • As it turns out, you're right, that's what GM did with the smog pump. No wonder they fail, they have to run all the time. Sorry. Hope I get this comment in past the too many comments per minute filter before you squeeze off a reply.

            • Even after I wrote this comment, my prior comment got modded up.

              Incidentally, if anyone is wondering where the smog pump went, they moved to better catalysts and it did indeed go away because you indeed don't need it once the vehicle is in closed loop mode and the catalyst is hot.

            • All good. Different manufacturers used different processes, and it has changed many times.

  • Isn't this kind of a non-story.

    They specifically designed a system to cheat the emissions test.
    It's like saying bank robbers were warned they were robbing a bank.

    Unless VW is some kind of wild west company, nothing gets done in large corporations like this without a project, funding, management buy in, probably management pressure.

"There is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don't know yet." -Ambrose Bierce

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