$18 Billion Fine for VW Emissions Cheats?

Had a bit of a Porsche blog sabbatical while working on other projects and building my new Porschehaus garage & office. Porsche’s Mission E concept, a new 911 with turbochargers as standard and Magnus smashing his 911 into a parked truck with a journalist on board didn’t get me excited enough to pick up a keyboard, but today’s news regarding Porsche’s parent Volkswagen kickstarted some action.

A year after this story first broke in the UK’s Sunday Times (as reported on ConsultEV), America’s Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the recall of almost half a million Volkswagen group cars sold in the US since 2008, after uncovering cheat software in Volkswagen group diesel cars designed to lower emissions when being run through emissions testing. The defeat device software knocks Nitrogen Dioxide emissions down for testing, but NO2 emissions are up to 40 times higher than levels permitted in the USA at all other times.

Toxic by inhalation, Kings College in London blamed Nitrogen Dioxide for 9,500 deaths in the city during 2010. The Nitrogen Dioxide emissions cheat software has so far been located on just five VW And Audi cars tested by the EPA, but every car found to be running the cheat software will incur a penalty of some $40k for its manufacturer. The maths apparently totals to almost $18 billion for Volkswagen in the US.

The bigger story will come from the fallout in Volkswagen’s other markets, paticularly back home in Germany. Also count on a slew of class action lawsuits against VW in the super-litigious USA. Perhaps the most bemusing aspect to this story is that emissions cheating is absolutely commonplace in vehicle testing. From my own conversations with car manufacturer-employed friends over the years, it seems that most if not all modern manufacturer ECUs are programmed with cheat software, designed to recognise throttle patterns common to rolling road emissions testing and shut down as much combustion as possible while the tests are being carried out.

A recent European Union report says that real-world emissions from cars can be up to 40% higher than seen in emissions approval testing, so this Volkswagen story is just the tip of the iceberg. You’d think the EPA would have known about this all along. I smell a rat in a Tesla lab coat, or maybe an EPA bod who stopped getting hush money. Either way, you know the discovery is no real shock to the emissions testing system: it’s a PR campaign designed to shock consumers and batter VW.

How does this affect Porsche? Well, imagine if your dad was fined $18 billion and 50,000 Americans started suing him. You would bloody know about it.

2 Comments

  • Chris Enright says:

    It’s folly to believe for one minute that the VW Group are the only manufacturer to have taken this route to achieving compliance.

    Given the close correlation between specific-output, consumption, and emissions (regardless of manufacturer), I predict that this will be an industry-wide phenomena.

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