back to article NOxious Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal: Chief falls on sword

Volkswagen's boss Martin Winterkorn has quit his job as the diesel emissions cheat scandal continues to engulf the German car maker. Winterkorn – who characterised the saga as a "grave crisis" for VW – resigned on Wednesday saying that he was "shocked by the events of the past few days". Late last week, it was revealed that …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not all need to be recalled.

    Only those sold in certain "developed" countries need to be recalled. Most of the world cares much less about emissions or any air pollution until they can no longer breath and even then they won't adopt equivalent standards.

    As for VW they took advantage of a system that assumes companies wouldn't break the law. We need to keep that presumption of innocence as it is the cheapest enforcement system but for it to work there needs to be very serious consequences when abused. Among them should be restricted access to markets.

    If you can't play by the rules, you shouldn't be allowed to play at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not all need to be recalled.

      Among them should be restricted access to markets.

      You are quite correct here. Idiot civil servants, politicians and regulators are in love with the concept of "fines up to 10% of turnover", they rarely think about blocking sales. I work for a large company that has repeatedly had multi-million pound fines from the industry regulator, and these seem to me to be treated as an occupational hazard of our industry. But I can assure you that the one thing that made our directors sit up and take notice was when a competitor was barred from selling for a mere ten days or so.

      I suspect this is also why the financial services sector are always up to something crooked or immoral - because financial penalties rarely affect bonuses, and the corporate reporting just treats them as a "non operating expense". If the big banks had been banned from all product sales in response to their PPI mis-selling, that'd hit people's bonuses up and down the food chain, it'd hit end of year operating profits, and they'd start to think that the game of mis-selling wasn't worth the candle (whereas it usually is). Such sales bans don't even need to be protracted - as noted above, the company who were spanked were blocked from selling for less than two weeks.

      Simple, easy to implement, easy to police, and with the effects felt by the guilty. The PR impact of having to tell current and prospective customers enquiring about products that you've been suspended from the market is also a useful punishment.

    2. GW7

      Re: Not all need to be recalled.

      Having been sold a diseasel by VW and being quite happy with the driving performance, I'll not be at all happy if VW try to modify my vehicle to enable THEM to comply with the law. If it turns out the modification will steal power or is likely to result in expensive repairs not far down the line, the answer will be NO WAY. The engine uses EGR to reduce the combustion temperature to reduce production of NOx. This unfortunately produces lots of soot, which is collected and burned in the expensive DPF. Unless VW retrofit a urea based system, reducing NOx will be achieved by a software update to increase EGR. That will reduce output power and increase soot, clogging the EGR system and the DPF sooner than if the software wasn't updated. A simple software update versus the laborious installation of tanks of concentrated piss... Hmm, I wonder which VW will choose as the "fix" for their cheapskate design-and-cheat snafu?

      1. nematoad Silver badge
        Go

        Re: Not all need to be recalled.

        "I'll not be at all happy if VW try to modify my vehicle to enable THEM to comply with the law."

        So sue them.

        It's not your fault that the manufacturers cheated and if you are unhappy with the remedy, take them to court. It's unfortunate that you may well have a less efficient car than the one you were promised but as a non-VW owner I'm glad that they are going to be made to clear up the mess.

        If you are unhappy then you know what to do. I'm sure that you will not be alone in this and a class action is a way of reducing the cost of litigation.

        The best of luck, I hope you win.

        1. GW7
          Stop

          Re: Not all need to be recalled.

          @nematoad

          I won't be suing VW for messing up my car performance and longevity with their dodgy recall because I won't allow them to apply it in the first place. They have no legal right (in the UK) to mess with my ride.

          The fact that VW cheated the type approval / vehicle certification is not my problem.

          11 million horses bolted before someone noticed VW's stable door was open. There is no good (nor legal) reason for owners to submit to VW's recall requests, as this is not a vehicle safety issue.

      2. iansmithedi

        Re: Not all need to be recalled.

        I love my pre-DPF clog-free diesel, especially if someone is following too closely: foot down and they disappear.

        1. Nigel 11

          Re: Not all need to be recalled.

          @iansmithedi

          There's something wrong with it, if it blows a cloud of soot. Get it fixed. I've got a pre-DPF diesel and there's never any visible soot (except for a brief puff when it's started from very cold).

          Or do you just mean that it accelerates in 5th gear at a rate that few ordinary petrol cars can match?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not all need to be recalled.

            There's something wrong with it, if it blows a cloud of soot. Get it fixed.

            The soot is caused by a combination of driving style and injector effectiveness. As the injectors wear, the fuel dispersion gets worse, leading to incomplete combustion and more soot (although there's an element of soot even with new injectors), but unless you have a gentle right foot this soot doesn't accumulate in the exhaust. When it accumulates, that's when hard acceleration and faster exhaust gas flow ejects the soot in a plume.

            Injectors are very expensive to replace at £200-400 per injector, so there's no reason to change it if you're happy with the performance, and if you normally drive with a gentle right foot, you'll have an exhaust pre-loaded so that you can lay smoke like a destroyer when passing cyclists. What's not to like?

      3. Probie

        Re: Not all need to be recalled.

        I feel that if I loose performance in the car, VW should refund my purchase, in whole preferably, but at a minimum the close to current used car sale price at a registered dealer forecourt, and the price would be set JUST before the scandal broke. I say this because the car after adaptation would no longer be the same car with the same specifications that I bought.

        1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

          Re: Not all need to be recalled.

          and the price would be set JUST before the scandal broke

          Unfortunately I doubt this would happen.

          I have a friend who bought a house in a little area surrounded by farmers fields. Planning permission went in, and was granted, for a warehouse to be built, basically around the house. The company building the warehouse have now offered to buy the house, but at the current market rate. This is over £100k less than it was before they got planning permission, and will leave them significantly out of pocket.

          If they do offer to buy back the cars, it will likely be at the current market value, significantly reduced from the value pre-scandal.

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. naive

            Re: Not all need to be recalled.

            Americans are idiots, bottom feeding journalists and tree huggers make a story out of nothing.

            These cars are fine, use little gas and still press one in the seat at 70 mph when flooring it.

            So indeed, do not let them update the ecu software, the tree huggers will do try to take your driving fun. Show them finger and continue buying VW's, let them rot in their ugly Prius boxes, which are 100 times more polluting in their life cycle then any TDI ever will be after decaying Prius batteries start killing little kids on some dump in Africa.

            So cuddos to VW trying to defy those EU politicians and others whose legislation with 100gr C02/km gave us these 3 cylinder lawnmower engines and killed the 6-cylinder BMW engines.

            And if the allegations about the software feature are true, hail to Martin Winterkorn !.

            So take that and vote down :)...

            1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
              Pint

              Re: Not all need to be recalled.

              naïve "These cars are fine, use little gas..."

              Very little, considering that they use diesel fuel.

              "...then any TDI ever..."

              than...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not all need to be recalled.

      "Most of the world cares much less about emissions or any air pollution until they can no longer breath and even then they won't adopt equivalent standards."

      Bollocks.

      Most of the rest of the world uses smaller cars that use less dino-soup, so creates less CO2, which means they contribute less to the really important thing called global warming.

      Any other toxicity problem is a localised one, and won't turn the planet into a disaster zone for our children's children.

      Also, the "others" often have functioning public transport, and not three cars per household on average. And they even walk and cycle sometimes.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Not all need to be recalled.

        AC "... not three cars per household on average."

        Actually it's YOU that obviously lacks the real world common sense.

        Running a household with a teenager and just ONE car uses more fuel than getting him his own car. Chauffeuring him back and forth (drop off) and back and forth (pick up later) is twice the fuel of him driving himself.

        If you see a house with three cars parked outside, please notice that they're parked (not moving, not burning fuel). The next house with no car parked outside is because Daddy is out, driving across town to pick up Junior again.

        That you don't get this indicates that you're not qualified to offer informed opinions.

    4. enormous c word

      Re: Not all need to be recalled.

      If you have an affected diesel VW - you could make the case that it is not fit for purpose or that it was sold under false pretences and just get your money back. What will VW do with a 3 year old car no-one wants. What about all the inner-city located cars that have low/no-TAX concessions due to their stated low-emissions? Where are you going to park now? After the SW *upgrade* has killed performance who will want a gutless VW diesel?

      Expect lots of VW diesels on eBay for very little money real soon.

      Perhaps some enterprising after-market *downgrades* to restore the performance lost by the forthcoming emissions *upgrade*.

    5. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Not all need to be recalled.

      Drivers who have been paying for lower priced VED bands, and less company car tax based on the false emissions figures will be required to back-pay their arrears at the correct rate then try and claim it back from Volkswagen.

      OK, maybe not, but I wouldn't be surprised.

    6. N13L5

      Re: Not all need to be recalled.

      I think they all should be recalled for installation of smarter software, that not only recognizes when a test is performed, but also when someone is trying to find out about the software itself.

      To those who are babbling about restricting access to markets: You are mistakenly thinking we live under that fabled political system called "democracy". So you believe in the puppet theater front of a new, modern fascism, where corporations call the shots and the input of elected officials is a carefully kept up illusion. (TTIP anyone?)

      You might think Hitler did a disservice to fascism, with the term getting confused with all sort of other things. But he worked out quite well for the corporations and bankers who funded him. They never expected or intended for him to win his strange crusade. As a whole, it worked out even better than all the other wars, where banksters have been digging up crazy people to start wars and then financing both sides for endless fun and profit...

      In modern fascism, wars are all waged at safe distance and to 'bring democracy' as the most easily corruptible form of government. No corporation or bank will ever really be harmed by a government. Individual employees who write bad software, maybe... But the ~140 families (see Swiss statistical study) owning 90+% of the worlds largest banks and corporations will never be touched.

      If you think Lehman Brothers was an example to disprove this - no, that was just several banksters taking out another one, which they had grown particularly tired of.

      So, nothing will happen to VW, aside from the possibility of some people looking at other brands to buy. Either way, if I was a car buyer, I'd rather buy a car that spits out too much nox, than a car with ignition key issues that could lead to accident and immediate, personal death.

      Winterkorn was pretty clever to get out right away... he couldn't have held on for very long anyway. And he would have just gotten tarred and feathered over and over.

      .

      - The intelligence of a species is inversely proportional to its distance from the center of the galaxy it lives in. This perfectly explains why this planet is such a loony bin and why our idiotic culture still revolves around the biggest monkeys trying to keep all the bananas for themselves.

  2. chivo243 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Win Win

    So, I'm the CEO, I make damn good coin. Now I leave the company, what kind of walk out the door cash do I get?

    Profit! And then go to work for the competition! Profit Profit...

    1. Richard Jones 1

      Re: Win Win

      I am going to guess that he will be rather closer to the tail of along jobs queue for car maker's jobs that will likely grow from the head end rather than behind him. Mutter in the gutter is that the bottom may well fall out of the car market and not just for VW. It might be a good time to buy a cheap car, but on the other hand perhaps not.

      God forbid that will all have to rent a field for our transport horses in future!

      1. jason 7

        Re: Win Win

        He's 68 so I'm pretty sure him 'leaving' was fully discussed as a media strategy, well arranged and compensated.

        Enjoy your retirement! (rolls eyes)

        1. jason 7

          Re: Win Win

          Ah I was right! A $67 million pound retirement to be precise!

          http://consumerist.com/2015/09/24/ousted-volkswagen-ceo-might-still-get-67m-payday-plus-company-car/

          Such harsh punishment.

      2. chivo243 Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Win Win

        @Richard Jones 1

        I own a Kia Picanto... it's a 2010, it's paid for, and welcome the day when it's a luxury car.

        1. Scott Broukell
          Meh

          Re: Win Win

          @chivo243 - Didn't you know, just tweak the software and it will magically become a six-seater luxury SUV in an instant.

        2. Nigel 11

          Re: Win Win

          Nah, an old enough Merc will be a luxury car until the sale of distilled petroleum products is banned. Old enough, because back then they built them to last forever, and many of them are still going strong with multiple light-seconds on the clock. Shame about the fuel consumption, but if you can afford luxury, do you care?

          Or get a 'leccy car and enjoy the music system and the 0-30 acceleration.

      3. N13L5

        Re: transport horses

        Whatever happened to walking, rollerskating, bicycling?

        I haven't bought a car in 13 years.

        While I do admit to renting cars occasionally, when I need to transport something heavy, I think cars are so massively over-used, that a bad ending seems unavoidable.

        Just don't forget, that Ford, Exxon and Goodyear conspired in the first half of the last century to dismantle public transportation in Los Angeles, in order to sell more cars, tires and gasoline.

        And in the latter half of the last century, Coca Cola corporation offered to help fund Los Angeles public schools with just one condition: remove classes on proper nutrition from the curriculum.

  3. Buzzword

    Nitrous Oxide? You're having a laugh(ing gas)

    NOₓ includes nitric oxide (NO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO₂), but not nitrous oxide (N₂O).

    1. ToddR

      Re: Nitrous Oxide? You're having a laugh(ing gas)

      And N2O4 at high pressure

  4. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. Outcast

    /Tinfoil Hat time

    Makes you wonder if the former ousted CEO of VW didn't drop a sneaky heads up to the relevant testing authority ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      That evil thought crossed my tinfoil surfaced brain as well. Furthermore, what other Hacks exist out there in their and other company's ECU's? I swear, those hamsters in my head are nearing warp factor one.

  6. Sykobee

    VW had better be hoping that the affected cars have the capability to be modified to incorporate the NOx reducing technology they left out, and then claimed they didn't need.

    I.e., refillable Urea tanks (need space), integration into engine/exhaust system (might need new components to replace existing components - let's hope that doesn't require a full engine strip down), mitigation for loss of advertised performance, driver compensation, ... could be thousands per vehicle, before corporate fines (tens of billions), lost revenue from sales, loss of market position, loss of goodwill, and so on...

    This will probably cost them $50B or more in the end, $100B isn't far fetched. That doesn't look good on your CV if you were CEO when this plan was put in action.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      That doesn't look good on your CV if you were CEO when this plan was put in action

      That could be why he quit now... protect his golden parachute, claim he took responsibility and did the right thing even though he claims he knew nothing about it. Other companies will look at him and say: "Oh, a CEO with ethics, grab him.". <For some value of ethics as defined by corporations>

      The question that will never be asked is: "Why didn't he know? He was in charge."

      1. iansmithedi

        I would have made him work his notice period to sort out the mess. It's a year for a CEO typically isn't it? Now that would be punishment.

      2. enormous c word

        Taking a (golden) bullet for the team

        ? He did nothing - just quit before the sh*t-storm really started. He would inevitably have to quit anyway - better to do it now at 67 under the noble pretence of *taking the bullet for the team*

        1. N13L5

          Re: Taking a (golden) bullet for the team

          Yes, it was the only move to dodge all the bs coming down the pike.

          Even a person of below average intelligence should have been able to call that.

          Its like avoiding the unnecessary amputation of a leg - not that hard to figure out.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This will probably cost them $50B or more in the end, $100B isn't far fetched.

      I was thinking along similar lines. And those sort of numbers wipe out the equity shareholders interest and possibly the debt holders.

      Nice one VW. Major Ivan Hirst saved you from the ashes, and then you flush yourselves down the toilet like this!

    3. Salts

      Well, you would think this, but this is the banks all over again, if VW is let to go bust all the workers end up on the dole and exports are down the pan, hence the German government will end up underwriting this.

    4. Lusty Silver badge

      Why would I let them retrofit anything to my car? It doesn't work as advertised, I want a full refund lickety split as per my consumer rights. The fact that this would then write off any depreciation I have incurred since purchase is besides the point...win for the consumer for a change.

      1. Nigel 11

        Why would I let them retrofit anything to my car?

        At present you don't have to. However, if (when?) the government decrees your car to be illegal because it emits too much pollution, then you'll have no choice.

        So, you'll sell it (at depressed value) and buy another car, and have a very good case to sue for the lowered resale value that VW inflicted on you. Assuming VW isn't bankrupt by then. Interestingly, your case is probably against your car dealer, not against VW. It's the dealers that'll sue VW.

        I'm really glad to be driving a 2002 model, though I live in fear of my car being retrospectively legislated off the road. Nobody except me thinks it's worth more than £1000, and that only on the day after it passes an MOT.

        1. Lusty Silver badge

          @nigel 11 the law in the UK is that the goods have to perform as advertised. These goods don't and never did which means instant refund regardless what the manufacturer says, no different just because it's a car. The only way VW can get around this is if modifications keep the same or better power while producing the same or better emissions when compared to the spec sold. Other countries may vary in their laws (although I don't believe they do in the EU) but the UK is pretty clear on consumer law.

          1. James Hughes 1

            I suspect that same power, consumption and emissions as per spec will be impossible. Otherwise they would have done it before they sold it....

          2. Nigel 11

            @Lusty

            Yes, but in UK law your legal remedy is against whoever sold you the offending item. That party can in turn sue whoever supplied them, and so on up the chain.

            You can instead choose to ask the item's manufacturer to honour its warranty instead, or to accept compensation from them, but if this route fails you have to take action against the party that sold the item to you.

            So it's the dealers that will be suing VW for the compensation they pay to their customers, and it's the lawyers that will be the principal beneficiaries of the whole sorry mess.

    5. N13L5

      He doesn't need a CV at his age, he can just go retire.

      I do wonder how many more skeletons there are to be found in the world's car companies.

      I always hated all that electronics crap in cars:

      - made them fixable only by people with the proper connections to the car mafia

      - allowed the car mafia to sell $35 circuit boards for $1,600 as a spare part you can't get around buying.

  7. bonkers

    Has anyone got any real details?

    To what extent was it "cheating" is what I'd like to know.

    It would be reasonable to save the finite supply of urea liquid for the times when the engine emits most NOx, under heavy acceleration (i.e driver demand, pedal position) and possibly also at lower revs. Similarly one might wait till the engine is warm otherwise the urea wont turn to gas within the exhaust and would be wasted. There is plausible denial so far, I would say.

    If it measures actual rpm profiles and acts only on those that are a few percent within the standard test profiles, then that is definitely "test detection".. Similarly again, if there is a flag set for "test" conditions, and this remains set for some time, possibly the whole ignition cycle after a "cadence detection" of some sort, then sure, they're busted.

    Where was it, actually, between these two levels?

    Reg readers need to know.

    1. fishman

      Re: Has anyone got any real details?

      Tons of articles about this on places like jalopnik. In short, the cars are tested on a dynometer. There are two easy way to sense that the car is on a dyno - the wheels are spinning but are never turned to go through a curve, and the drive wheels are spinning but the other wheels are stationary. Because of the second case the traction control would try to kick in, cars are equipped with the ability to turn off traction control.

    2. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: Has anyone got any real details?

      Modern cars tend try to run the engine at heavy acceleration as much as possible for efficiency. The gas pedal modulates the transmission to use the highest gear possible for the desired power. Extra RPM is extra friction and extra exhaust. This has been the only trick left after already optimizing combustion, accessory loads, tires, transmission, aerodynamics, etc. This is also why modern AT cars have such terrible acceleration lag. The engine is already near maximum torque so you must wait for a gear change.

      1. Lusty Silver badge

        Re: Has anyone got any real details?

        There are plenty of tricks left to reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency. Sadly they all increase manufacturing cost and complexity and so are completely ignored.

    3. Nigel 11

      Re: Has anyone got any real details?

      @bonkers

      The point is that VW diesels don't use urea to clean up the exhaust. VW claimed that their technology was so advanced, urea injection was unnecessary. But they were cheating the tests. The ECU was injecting fuel in a special test programme, that will severely impact on the cars' performance if it is now inflicted on motorists who bought VW cars based on a test drive experience. Also, it's not a minor discrepancy. In the US, VW diesels were discovered to be emitting seven times more pollution on the road, than they did in the tests. That's illegal, by a factor of at least five.

      If other manufacturers are cheating but only by not injecting Urea as much as they do when they detect a test situation, it'll be less serious for them. They'll have to turn on "test mode" for ordinary motoring and supply free urea to motorists. Possibly, they'll have to retro-fit a larger tank, if the supplied one holds less than a ~500 mile supply. Luckily, urea is cheap (and about as non-toxic as a chemical can be). OTOH if test mode cripples on-road performance for other manufacturers' cars, this will become the biggest scandal since the bankers almost crashed the entire global economy.

      1. N13L5

        Re: Has anyone got any real details?

        Why we should all piss in the tank before we drive off.

        Of course it'll get annoying if the wife always honks the horn to get you to come down and supply some urea for her motor...

  8. BobRocket

    Industry spokesperson

    there was an IS on R4 this morning claiming that this couldn't happen in Europe because the system is different, a manufacturer presents a 'standard' car to the regulators and then builds the rest to that standard.

    The regulator pulls random cars off the line and ensures they meet spec.

    Great, except it is a simple matter to reflash the ECU at the dealership prior to customer collection.

    Are other manufacturers implicated, the car industry is incestuous like any other, one company has a 'good' idea and it is not long before they all sport variations on that theme.

    1. Graham Cobb

      Re: Industry spokesperson

      I saw that argument somewhere else, but I don't understand it. Isn't the US claim that the "test detection" is part of the standard ECU software? Why would there be any need to have special software (let alone special cars)?

      As soon as I heard about it, I assumed the "feature" would be found in European cars, from many manufacturers, as well.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Industry spokesperson

      That might work over the on the right side of the pond. Do the cars ever get re-tested? That's probably how they were caught here in the States. Most states now require a test (and passing it) prior to renewing the car's license plates.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Industry spokesperson

        That might work over the on the right side of the pond. Do the cars ever get re-tested?

        It's a widely known issue that European "official" economy figures bear no relation to the real world figures or those measured by consumer groups in testing, and it's been widely noticed that the "official" improvements in emissions hasn't been reflected in measured urban air quality. The various consumer's associations across Europe have certainly raised the issue of economy, and the green groups have complained about the air quality.

        The European Commission (Europe's not very elected "cabinet") have been strangely ineffective in reacting to this, probably due to lobbying by the German government. For years the Germans have resisted tighter emissions control for fear it will harm their large and powerful car industry (which makes large, powerful, polluting cars).

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Industry spokesperson

          It's a widely known issue that European "official" economy figures bear no relation to the real world figures

          It's widely complained about, the official figures can easily all be met or exceeded by careful driving.

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Industry spokesperson

        That's probably how they were caught here in the States.

        They were caught because some researchers wanted to prove just how clean VW diesels were, and ran their own tests. They were more than a little shocked by the results, and called the authorities.

    3. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Industry spokesperson

      The car manufacturers aren't even particularly bothered about hiding the fact that they're gaming the system in the EU, it seems they strip the car down, tape over joins in the car's body, remove wing mirrors, over-inflate tyres, use extremely smooth test tracks, and so on and apparently all under the watchful eye of the regulator. So it wouldn't be surprising if the engine management system were also calibrated to be reduce containments within the first couple of days of the cars life at the expense of power.

      http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/sep/14/nine-out-of-10-new-diesel-cars-in-breach-of-eu-pollution-rules-report-finds

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: Industry spokesperson

        @dan55

        All that stuff is an open secret, and constitutes a level playing field amongst manufacturers (albeit one that progressively reduces the value of testing, as the car's preparation further diverges from real world motoring). No reproducible lab test is ever going to replicate all car owners' on-road experiences. Driving conditions and driving styles are far too disparate. Car reviews give one a fairly good idea of how the published figures relate to reality.

        The ECU software issue is different, because it's equivalent to supplying one sort of car engine for testing, and a completely different one to the car buyer. The environment suffers from cars that pollute far more than they have regulatory approval to do. If these cars are now locked down into test mode, the owners' experience will suffer. The car they own will no longer be in any way like the one they test-drove. This was not an open secret. It was a very well-kept secret, and the intent was to defraud governments and car owners alike. It was precisely analagous to drug-cheating in sports.

    4. Nigel 11

      Re: Industry spokesperson

      @BobRocket

      In future, the regulatory authorities need to be allowed to "conscript" any car off the production line, at the point where it's ready to be delivered to a customer. Yes, someone is going to be unhappy about their new car arriving late, but that happens for all sorts of other reasons in any case. In this case "force majeure" will apply.

      Also, dealers need to be made to swear, on oath, that they are not under any instruction from the car company to re-flash all ECU softwares before handing the keys to the customer, and that they don't routinely do this. The penalties for perjury (criminal conviction, possible jail time) would mean that any such secret tinkering would soon become known.

      It's not rocket-science. It's like catching sport doping cheats. Assume the worst. It's now proved that the auto industry cannot be trusted to police itself.

  9. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Flame

    "even though I am not aware of any wrong doing on my part"

    Of course you did no wrong ! You just told the peons to improve revenue for the Board. That's your job, right ? And if that crosses a few lines and breaks a few laws, well as long as the Board is happy, it don't matter, right ?

    Well the Board ain't happy, because your non-wrongdoing has cost the Board about half its value. That's where you did wrong, in a concept you can understand.

    Because cheating, lying and falsifying are obviously not concepts you can understand.

    1. Ilmarinen
      Meh

      Re: "even though I am not aware of any wrong doing on my part"

      @ Pascal Monett

      Don't be too hard on him.

      If politicians, regulators, government agencies can all lie, cheat and falsify, with no punishment or bad consiquences, perhaps car manufacturers can be excused for thinking it's OK to do the same?

    2. Nigel 11

      Re: "even though I am not aware of any wrong doing on my part"

      @Pascal Monett

      Careful - that's close to libellous. It's not established that he knew anything about how his engine design people were progressively "improving" the performance of the engines. There's no reason he should have known, he could have been as much deceived as the government's regulators. I'd fault the regulators to a greater extent, because their remit should have included catching out any cheats.

      Somebody fairly high up the company must have known, and not passed any concerns up the chain of command. The chief resigned, because the buck stops at the top. He's resigned, because he clearly didn't sufficiently instill the importance of ethical behaviour in his underlings. He's resigned, because the board has lost confidence in him. The next CEO must find out who knew what, and fire those whose decision-making embraced wholesale deception as legitimate.

      1. silent_count

        Re: "even though I am not aware of any wrong doing on my part"

        @Nigel 11

        At the minimum, the engine design team were lying about how well their engine works and the compliance team were either complicit or were so incompetent they didn't notice that the design team were lying.

        I accept that a CEO isn't omniscient but this isn't like two of the cleaning staff sharing a joint on the night shift.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Very unfortunate

    Winterkorn seems to have been a good CEO. If he did not know about the tainted software, he's getting a bad deal but that's what happens in situations like this. If he did know about the disabling of emissions devices then he belongs in prison with those who wrote the software. We probably will never know the full story.

    The cars all met emissions requirements with the systems fully functioning so all they need is a software update to remove the disabling code.

    A survey today shows that Diesel owners would still overwhelmingly buy a Diesel even after the emissions issue. Clean Diesels make sense to all except the tree huggers, Obama and the electric vehicle purveyors duping consumers.

    1. GW7

      Re: Very unfortunate

      "The cars all met emissions requirements with the systems fully functioning so all they need is a software update to remove the disabling code."

      That would mean running the car in "emissions test mode" all the time. The car will then drive like a slug and rapidly clog up with soot.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Very unfortunate

        naw, it would just mean a urea top up every few thousand miles. Anyway city dwellers deserve NOX because it causes ozone, which causes them breathing problems and therefore annoyance.

        Most big city dweller are annoying. Therefore they deserve it.

        Why should I have an inefficient car because they all chose to level in densely populated area.

    2. Nigel 11

      Re: Very unfortunate

      Clean Diesels make sense to all except the tree huggers, Obama and the electric vehicle purveyors duping consumers.

      Except, is there such a thing as a clean diesel? I await the results of tests on the other makes. I hope that this is a VW-only scandal, and that urea injection works as well as is claimed.

      If everyone in the industry has been cheating, the "clean diesel" may be to internal combustion engines, as a unicorn is to horses.

      Just saying, wait and reserve judgement until the full facts emerge.

      For the record, I drive a 2002 diesel, which never claimed to be particularly clean. Since 2002, much has been learned about NOx and particulates, which reveals them to be more of a health hazard than was realized back then. It's cities, and particularly city centres, where this pollution is a major problem. I rarely drive in cities and the last time in a big city centre was 2009, so I can just about square my conscience with keeping it running.

    3. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: Very unfortunate

      Clean Diesels make sense to all except the tree huggers, Obama and the electric vehicle purveyors duping consumers.

      Clean? Yeah they might be cleaner than ones from yesteryear but they are definitely not clean. Anyway, some people prefer petrol to diesel and that doesn't exactly make them tree huggers.

    4. robin48gx

      Re: Very unfortunate

      They just nead a urea ssolution tank, and you top it up every few housand miles.problem sorted. And I am not taking the piss either !

  11. Richard Altmann

    As CEO

    Winterkorn is fully responsible for what happened. Under his regime a climate developed that made things likes this happen. Knowingly or not. He employed the motherfuckers that took advantage of his way leading the the company. If you ever attended an Audi Management Conference you know that the top and middle management is willing to walk over dead bodies for their bonuses. Just like this guys with their pyramid scam schemes. Anyway: Buy VW shares now ! They are down by 30% today. In 4 weeks they will be up as usual and growing. Thanks to investment bankers who apply the same non existing morale standards as the managements of Big Players all over the world. I just wish i could find a million bucks overnight and put it in that scheme. It would put me out of my financial (relate) misery and the weekly back up routine would be nothing like a bad dream. :-)

    1. WraithCadmus
      Joke

      Re: As CEO

      Leverage son! Just bet the house on it and you'll be fine!

      Icon: Please do not actually do this

      1. Nigel 11

        Re: As CEO

        If you are taking this idea seriously, at least review what happened to BP after they spilled some oil off the Florida coast and killed a few penguins. OK, a lot of oil, though I still think it was Transocean and Haliburton's fault. The courts disagreed.

        In this case there is no question that it's VW's fault. There's no third party to blame.

        I think you'll decide that the share price could have a lot further to fall.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did the CIA know? How about the NSA?

    I find it difficult to believe that the USA's spymasters did not already know of this deception. USA security entities will typically claim to have foiled a terrorist plot after finding an air traveler with a fingernail file. Yet they overlooked hundreds of thousands of non-compliant vehicles, actively poisoning the air throughout the continental USA? Absurd. Impossible. Was the knowledge being used to blackmail VW corporate leadership? Or possibly German national leadership? If the USA clandestine services did NOT already know about this, then they should all be fired. Most of them should be fired regardless.

  13. Whiskers

    Inappropriate testing

    It's starting to look as though the real problem is legislators allowing (or insisting upon) vehicle emissions tests that bear no resemblance to normal use. The same must be true for all vehicles, not only diesels.

    It's inevitably easier to build a car that can comply with clearly defined special circumstances such as a laboratory or a 'poke this up the exhaust and rev the engine' stationary test, than it is to make the same car meet a given standard when it's being driven on real roads in real weather with real loads by an average driver - but it's also a lot harder to test the car in the latter circumstances. No cheating required (so it is surprising that any major car maker has confessed to cheating). This must be true for all cars, not just diesels.

    It has been widely known for years, I think, that when cars are tested in the real world the results bear little resemblance to what can be achieved in a statutory annual road worthiness test - let alone the original manufacturers lab tests. It may be that the statutory emissions limits are not actually achievable in the real world, at least not without making the cars a lot more sluggish to drive. This too applies to all internal combustion cars, not only diesels. It also calls into question the principle of differential annual taxation based on the OEM figures, as practiced in the UK.

  14. Christian Berger Silver badge

    But they already found the culprit

    http://www.der-postillon.com/2015/09/der-hausmeister-wars-vw-prasentiert.html

    It was Hans Böbner, the Janitor. In a recording made in the Caribic he confessed to personally modifying all those cars. Guess his recent 4.3 million bonus was not enough, so he turned on VW.

  15. JonnyBravo

    I'm not aware of any wrongdoing on my part (but it might have been while I was tripping balls)

  16. enormous c word

    Winterkorn quitting a noble act of contrition?

    So Winterkorn has quit VW - thus side-stepping the coming crisis and avoiding the horrendous job of rebuilding VWs shattered reputation and the huge sums in reparations that will surely follow. He would have quit anyway - now he doesnt have to bother sorting out his mess. In a couple of years he'll just turn up somewhere else - like they always do...

  17. Richard Wharram

    Refund

    Where do I apply?

    1. Indolent Wretch

      Re: Refund

      Damn right everyone affected should be able to get a full refund.

      Miss sold product. Deliberate deceit. May as well have been selling electric cars to people with no electric motors and petrol engines. Time since purchase irrelevant because it impossible for a normal owner to find out they'd been deceived.

      And for all those saying how happy they are that their cars do pollute more and you won't let VW change them fine, your selfish we get that but that's your call, but still get the refund and then use it to buy a new one.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Refund

        "...your selfish..."

        you're

  18. Avatar of They
    FAIL

    Old news.

    Watched this on the news last night, worth pointing out to the Reg that this was shown by the BBC over a year ago in tests (and then televised back then as part of the special report)

    But US only just woke up to it. AND now it is news.

    Main reason is US have stricter limits in place as they care more about the environment (I am not kidding, the reporter actually said that.)

    1. drexciya

      Re: Old news.

      Ha and why do they let those pick-up trucks and SUVs get by with horrible fuel efficiencies and emission stats? Because they're important for GM. This case stinks with the harsh treatment of a foreign company. Everyone has forgotten about the misdeeds of GM and they got off with a paltry fine.

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Old news.

        Ha and why do they let those pick-up trucks and SUVs get by with horrible fuel efficiencies and emission stats? Because they're important for GM. This case stinks with the harsh treatment of a foreign company. Everyone has forgotten about the misdeeds of GM and they got off with a paltry fine.

        You'd be suprised about emissions stats of modern fuel injected V8s. They've come a long way since the old pushrods.

        Granted they may not be the most economical.

        GM? They do have Ford and Mopar as well you know.

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Old news.

        Ha and why do they let those pick-up trucks and SUVs get by with horrible fuel efficiencies and emission stats?

        Because they are honest about it?

  19. Dr_Cynic

    I suspect all the car manufacturers are to some extent 'cheating' on the tests.

    It certainly wasn't news to me that they have special modes for testing, I think I picked that up from some car forums a few years ago, though it is possible it might have been via some of my drinking mates who have dealings with the car industry.

  20. CaveatVenditor
    Coat

    Major Appliance scandal next?

    My dishwasher has a special mode for test institutes.

    Do I need to worry about its emissions or should I get the software updated?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still not sure of affected vehicles...

    So we're picking up a new VW-group diesel tomorrow, but thinking we are not affected. This CNET article ( http://www.cnet.com/news/volkswagen-apologies-stops-diesel-sales-in-wake-of-u-s-emissions-cheating-scandal/ ) has VW claiming that only the EA189 engine is affected and that their newer Euro VI engine (EA288) has passed the tests properly.

    As I understand it, the car will be one of the ones that made the number go from 500k to 11m - the software is affected, but the engine setup is somehow different. Previous reports have suggested an AdBlue/urea tank that could be activated during testing but not during normal driving, so it would make sense that if the EA288 doesn't have that tank then it can't be activated by affected software, even if it's in the code, and the EA288 must have passed the tests genuinely.

    It's a bit woolly, unclear and concerning... but then all their PR blurb says we're fine just now.

    Anyone seen anything clearer??

  22. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    $18 Billion dollars, possibly much more...

    It's probably enough money to convert dozens and dozens of the world's largest ships from burning filthy Bunker fuels to burning something vastly, unimaginably, mind-bogglingly cleaner, such as diesel.

    If anyone was in charge of the larger picture, then that somebody would take the equivalent total fine + follow-on cost money from VW, allow them a 'pass' (an 'Indulgence') on the existing fleet of cars (it'll sort itself out in a decade anyway), and use the vast pile of money thus released to more effective ends - such as fixing Bunker powered ships.

    Unfortunately, nobody is in charge. So billions will be spent ineffectively. And Bunker fuel powered ships in any given harbour will go uncorrected, hundreds of thousands of times worse in the NOx sense than the entire fleet of VWs.

  23. Hairy Airey

    All very hopeful of a refund...

    However it's been established for some time now that you have around a fortnight to get a refund (UK of course - but I imagine it's the same elsewhere). So unless you very recently bought a car AND know it's affected no refund for you.

    You can be pretty sure they won't be rushing to recall just yet.

    The other problem of course is if the regulating authority decides that these cars should be immediately recalled and not driven until fixed. Which would be chaotic in so many ways. How many lost working days would that entail? Scary.

  24. GW7

    Your VW compensation claim succeeded

    £3178 is STILL waiting in your name in settlement of your claim against VW. To get money ASAP visit http://myspamtasticlawyer.con

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Your VW compensation claim succeeded

      Have they been reviewing their lists again, and noticed that somehow I wasn't contacted as I should have?

  25. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    I'm not that impressed by the testing procedures.

    For example, apart from he MOT test which is just while idling I believe, there is no testing of older vehicles. So if performance totally drops off after 10k miles, we will never know.

    I'm pretty sure that BMW hid a problem with the VANOS that would most definitely have severely affected emissions (and performance). There used to be a warning thrown when the VANOS wasn't operating properly, but the warning disappeared, together with some improvement in engine behaviour when the VANOS didn't work properly (i.e the engine management switched to maps for this particular case).

    Of course, this VANOS problem never showed up on any new cars. Only after 20-40k miles did it show up.

    1. Chemist

      "For example, apart from he MOT test which is just while idling I believe"

      AFAIK diesel smoke tests are carried out at full 'throttle'

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Yes, this was for a petrol engine.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NSA spying revealed the emissions trick

    According to a German friend, the thing bugging most Germans, is the fact that the emissions trick was not found out by diligent research, or even common sense from a politician (can you name a policitican who knows what a lambda sensor is I wonder?). According to my Germna friend, it is sidely beleived that NSA bugging revealed this one....

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