back to article German regulator sets VW deadline

Germany's Federal Motor Transport Authority, KBA, has lost patience with scandal-plagued Volkswagen and has given it a deadline. By October 7, the regulator says, Volkswagen has to submit its plan for bringing its cars into line with European emissions regulation – and this time, no cheating. That's going to be a tough ask …

  1. bazza Silver badge

    If KBA withdraws approval for the affected cars, they can neither be sold nor driven in Germany.

    Not even driven? Blimey! That will sting...

    1. Ole Juul

      Not even driven? Blimey! That will sting...

      I'll really feel sorry for the owners if that happens. It could cause some serious hardship for some. As for VW the sting is deserved. If cars go off the road, they'll probably see the mother of all class action law suits from people who want a working vehicle.

  2. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Isn't it EU wide? As in if it fails in one country, it fails them all so no KBA approval will mean everyone else rubberstamps the 'git orf our roads' edict.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Or it might just mean that if you're on a road trip, the border (Germany's) is as far as you can go. I'd almost lay odds there will be some new rental car agencies opening up just outside the German border for tourists to change cars to non-VM models if this comes to pass..

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
        Happy

        non-VM models

        You can tell this is an IT mag, I keep typing VM instead of VW as well ...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          ofgem v ofcom.

          I've a formal correspondence with @ofgem at the moment regarding my Energy Supplier, everything technical I deal with is @ofcom, had to check and re-check every email, so easily done.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      It seems that this is one of the few things that each country can decide for itself, Belgium has stopped sales. As for EEA (fax democracy) countries, Switzerland has also stopped sales and Norway is opening a fraud investigation.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      EU wide type approval

      Isn't it EU wide? As in if it fails in one country, it fails them all

      AFAIK, vehicle type approval is not yet homogenised across the whole of the EU, partly because of taxation differences.

  3. frank ly Silver badge

    In the UK

    Is this a good time or a bad time to get a good deal on a second hand turbodiesel VW Passat? Should I wait?

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: In the UK

      Could be a bad time to get one if it is incapable of passing its next MOT.

    2. DropBear Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: In the UK

      "Is this a good time or a bad time"

      I'd say that depends a lot on the specific secondness of the hand in question - for instance, my double-decade old VW diesel never purported to be anything other than Euro 2 and I don't think it will suddenly develop any difficulty in sticking to that, so its price should not be impacted at all - whatever you'd consider its residual value to be. I can tell you it still runs great though, so I'm not sellin'...

  4. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Quick response by the Germans...

    October 7th isn't that far away and in some companies I've been in, it would take longer just form the committee and schedule the first meeting.

  5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    Oktoberfest!

    A new meaning!

  6. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    It'll be expensive...

    I think this could be expensive.

    The cars that were running at 5x the US legal limit may be within European limits; emissions limits up to Euro Tier 5 are almost 6x the US limit, and Tier 6 (introduced 2014) is still about 2.5x the US limit. VW's going to have problems with these cars in the US, but in Europe I doubt they need to adjust anything, and if they do it should be pretty mild, shaving a few .01 g/km off the emissions.

    The ones that were putting out 30-40x US limit? Those are trouble. I'll just note that by 2010, VW had the only diesel road vehicles available in the US without urea injection. Navistar planned to continue using an EGR-only solution, but switched to urea injection almost literally at the last minute of 2009, after they found they had not found a engine management software and tune that'd meet emissions and maintain driveability, power, and fuel mileage. VW has perhaps two unpalletable choices:

    1) Strictly software/tune update. This would need no new hardware (the EGR hardware's already there after all). But this likely would hamper driveability, power, and economy, and looks like lawsuit city as well as further harming their image (I mean, who wants a mandatory software update that does that?). They'll have to be very careful that a much more agressive EGR usage doesn't lead to any stalling, this would be an even bigger problem.

    2) Retrofit urea injection. Hopefully there's a little empty space somewhere in the back to add the tank! This could be quite costly, a tank would have to be fit and something'd have to be added to the exhaust system for the urea injection. At $1,000 a car time 11 million cars it'd be like $11 billion. Ouch. But it shouldn't affect engine performance since it's exhaust aftertreatment.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: It'll be expensive...

      Retrofit urea injection ... $1000 a car

      You are kidding right? It is:

      1) New catalyst and exhaust.

      2) Tank, urea pump and piping

      3) Connect to power and ECU (granted, considering the level VW CANBUS disease you can grab a CANBUS off the taillights to do that).

      4) Costs of testing that for each individual model

      I do not see how you can fit that into 1000$ More like 1500-2000.

      All in all, I foresee a flowering market for 2009-2015 four cylinder diesel VW cars in Eastern Europe, ex CIS, LatAm, etc combined with a market to flash the ECU with pre-2015 software.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: It'll be expensive...

      There's a third option, buy the cars back at top market value and scrap/recycle them. If, as is suggested, they could be fined $20+k per car sold they may be able to do a deal with the authorities to buy back the cars instead, which could be cheaper and would be an actual solution to the pollution issue. No car, no NOx.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: It'll be expensive...

        There's a third option, buy the cars back at top market value and scrap/recycle them

        This is USA and maybe Swittherland only solution.

        The fines and possible cost of lawsuits elsewhere are unclear and most likely not anywhere near the USA values. I do not recall the legislation in most Eu countries specifying a penalty fine for a defeat device. You fail MOT (or its equivalent) and you are obliged to remove it.

        So the economics of a Total Recall outside the USA do not quite work out. I suspect in Eu VW will swallow all of the costs, offer some token reimbursement to customers and continue as if nothing has happened.

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: It'll be expensive...

        would be an actual solution to the pollution issue

        Because destroying the old cars and manufacturing new ones sure won't generate pollution, or waste for that matter.

        This is the same reasoning behind the "cash for clunkers" idocy: wholesale destruction of working machinery because GAIACULT and, after all, money can be printed. Please leave thinking on the level of differently abled 6-year olds to politicians.

    3. jamesd

      Re: It'll be expensive...

      The 30x-40x the limit is not really an accurate comparison. That's what it did on the road (on one example), which obviously is not the same as the official test, and nobody pretends it would be (the test has no full-throttle for example). At some point, the cars will be run through the exact official test again, but with the "cheat" software path removed - only then do we have a comparison for how far over they were on NOx.

      Regarding (1) - If software only. In my view peak power is unlikely to be particularly impacted (it is by definition not a lean/hot mix at that point, and no EGR either). Mpg however is likely to suffer, through a less-lean mix at partial load. The big problem though I think will be the impact on reliability/longevity - if the EGR is ramped up, and less-lean mixes to reduce temperatures used, the lifespan of the rest of the exhaust filters, and engine itself, will rapidly (probably non-linear) reduce. VWs problem will be the servicing and downstream part replacement, and impact to reputation that has.

  7. Richard Wharram

    Refund

    I got downvoted last time I said it but bring it on. If VW sold me a car that is going to be crippled from the specs I paid for I want my money back.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Refund

      Well, it's a nice scam to try and take advantage of VW's duplicity to get all your money back for a car you've used and had wear and tear on, so good luck to you (also because the issue is exactly that the car is NOT crippled because of that fix, it may be when it fully complies with regulations). But I still think it's a scam - methinks people that screech thus protest a bit too much, and I'm sure that VW knows that that will be coming too. I hope they can come up with a suitable software solution, because that will at least cut off the dishonest claimers.*

      * No, I do not condone what VW has done in any way, but the scammers make it harder for honest people to get their claim satisfied.

      1. Velv Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: Refund

        I'm not going to trawl through previous articles but it's been covered here many times.

        The Sale of Goods Act very much covers this. A technical specification was published and the goods have been proven not to meet the specification, so there is a clear case. However since in the vast majority of cases the vehicle has not been returned as faulty "within a short time*", you have accepted the goods and are therefore likely only to be eligible for repair or replacement, not a refund.

        (* generally considered 3-4 weeks)

        1. Richard Wharram

          Re: Refund

          There's no way drivers would know it didn't meet the pollution specification of the product.

          If it is recalled for modification and then doesn't meet the performance / economy specification then I have to re-accept the item. Under the Sale of Goods Act I should reasonably expect my item to meet its specification for 5 or 6 years (don't remember exactly.)

          A 1080p telly which became 480p after three years and didn't advertise the fact at point of sale would be a breach of the act :)

        2. Anonymous John

          Re: Refund

          "However since in the vast majority of cases the vehicle has not been returned as faulty "within a short time*", you have accepted the goods and are therefore likely only to be eligible for repair or replacement, not a refund."

          I can see that in relation to an accidental fault. But here, the fault was deliberate and impossible for the owner to detect. Can it be repaired without the performance taking a hit? And does VW have replacements which do meet the legal requirements?

      2. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Re: Refund

        It's not a scam to insist the product matches the box. Your legal redress is going to depend on your local laws but in Australia for example, a major problem is defined as:

        "1. It has a problem that would have stopped someone from buying it if they’d known about it

        2. it is unsafe

        3. it is significantly different from the sample or description

        it doesn’t do what the business said it would, or what you asked for and can’t easily be fixed."

        That seems to me to be a big violation of both 1 and 3. Not only would you be entitled to a refund but also reasonable taxi fares for the travel the process necessitates. It may well be cheaper for them to mothball the effected models if they can't come up with some technical solution. A software patch that noticeably drops power opens them up to the refund clauses. Will be quite an interesting ride to say the least.

        Edit: before someone mentions the warranty period, from the same consumer rights...

        "Your rights under the consumer guarantees do not have a specific expiry date and can apply even after any warranties you’ve got from a business have expired."

    2. fishman

      Re: Refund

      I see two ways -

      1. VW will give you a coupon to be used for purchasing a new VW.

      2. Class action lawsuit - where the lawyers get hundreds of millions and the car owners get a free oil change.

      1. Vic

        Re: Refund

        the lawyers get hundreds of millions and the car owners get a free* oil change.

        * Oil not included

        FTFY.

        Vic.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In all those dark (diesel) clouds hides one joke..

    VW's brand chief Herbert Diess

    You gotta be kidding me, Herbie was named after a VW exec? :)

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: In all those dark (diesel) clouds hides one joke..

      Rather disappointed that El Reg hasn't used images from the Herbie films yet, especially those bits where he showed his displeasure by covering people in a shower of soot.

      1. Mpeler
        Paris Hilton

        Re: In all those dark (diesel) clouds hides one joke..

        Or the one where he's pi$$ing oil on someone. That would do for the hippies and eco-freaks that caused this mess in the first place.

        And oh, by the way, it's not just VW that's doing this re-tuning; Ford has been doing it too and paid a large fine. Does anyone smell protectionism in the **cough** air? How about a fresh "climate" scandal in the run-up to the "Paris Climate Clown Show" later this year?

        Carbon credits, anyone?

        Lean-burn engines have had problems with NOx since day one. And not just diesels. Chrysler had a he!! of a time with them years ago, and that was back when they had good engineers.

        New cars sold require adherence to EU6 standards, which most manufacturers have chosen to comply with by using urea injection, aka AdBlue. This is the route that VW is taking, so there is an upper bound on their problem.

        There are a couple who have chosen other means (I think BMW is one of them), so it should be interesting to see what they do (har, har, har).

        Also, the VW engines affected are the common-rail engines which started being sold in 2009. PD engines

        are not affected, so that might make the used car market interesting for a while. Toyota is also a big user of common-rail engines, so I'll be interested if they have yet another recall, this time involving these engines.

        Finally, one smells tit-for-tat, perhaps, when considering the various GM debacles with airbags (I know there are other companies involved, but GM is mostly owend AFAIK by the US government). Or, this is a not-so-friendly "nudge" by the USGOV to get Germany (and other countries) to sign on to these dastardly trade "agreements"......

        Inquiring (cough) minds want to know...

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge

          Re: In all those dark (diesel) clouds hides one joke..

          >There are a couple who have chosen other means (I think BMW is one of them), so it should be interesting to see what they do (har, har, har).

          Not saying BMW haven't played fast & loose, but in the original research a BMW X5 passed the US emissions test, where the Passat "overachieved".

  9. Brenda McViking
    Joke

    Talking of all this money..

    Could YOU be owed compenstaion for being mis-sold TDI?

    1. Vic

      Re: Talking of all this money..

      Could YOU be owed compenstaion for being mis-sold TDI?

      FFS, do *not* give them any ideas...

      Vic.

  10. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "can only be done with a big hit to the performance of cars on the road"

    Seems to me that a lot of people are going to end up quite unhappy with their VWs.

    They bought a car with a given level of performance, and they will apparently feel a substantial difference after the patch.

    It doesn't matter if you bought a 300hp car or a 120hp car, if you lose 20% of your usual performance, you feel that the car handles like a wet log.

    Millions of cars are apparently concerned. Long term, that means millions of people unhappy with their vehicle, and millions more people avoiding second-hand VWs for a long time - which will mean the resale value will take a hit as well.

    This is going to mean years of trouble for VW, however fast they patch up the current problem.

    1. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: "can only be done with a big hit to the performance of cars on the road"

      For others, environmental considerations would have been a large part of the appeal of a diesel. It is a direct affront to those who thought they were doing the right thing.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: "can only be done with a big hit to the performance of cars on the road"

        > buy diesel

        > thought they were doing the right thing

        I don't know to what level of self-delusion people will go, but I want to find out.

  11. Yugguy

    That's going to be a tough ask

    Words cannot describe how much I hate this phrase.

    Ask is a VERB.

    "It will be a lot to ask".

    1. Justicesays
      Headmaster

      Re: That's going to be a tough ask

      What's your take on "Request", VERB or NOUN...?

      Ask has been used as a noun since 927 AD (ish), so get with the program great great (etc.) granddad

      http://www.grammarphobia.com/blog/2014/03/a-big-ask.html

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: That's going to be a tough ask

      Words cannot describe how much I hate this phrase.

      Words cannot describe how much restraint I had to exercise not to lob a few posts at that comment to tempt the rage of your inner pedant. My self restraint in this matter was truly nothing short of heroic.

      :)

      1. Yugguy

        Re: That's going to be a tough ask

        Lob away dear boy, lob away.

        I is grammar school teached, isn't I.

    3. Stratman

      Re: That's going to be a tough ask

      Kiss my ask.

  12. ntevanza

    Book of Larry

    Warn the customer that running unpatched is an unsupported configuration

    Make the customer pay for the patch

    Make the customer pay for the labour to install the patch

    End support for the unpatched car

    Renew support contract for the patched car for another three years, payable up front

    Change the EULA to anything you want

    Offer to address performance problems with new patches (for conditions, see above)

    Offer expensive new replacement engines, (for conditions, see above) incompatible with current cars

    Move transport into the cloud.

  13. Mpeler
    Coat

    Another one rides the bus

    In other news, VW and Bosch have decided to rename the internal automobile network as the CON bus.

  14. TheWeenie

    One thing I have always wondered about is where VW group cars which have had aftermarket performance engine maps loaded will sit in all this.

    If VW are forced to put out a new map, is it compulsory to have your car flashed with the "fixed" map? If so, would those ECUs then be put into a read-only mode (therefore locking the "proper" map onto the ECU for life), or is it merely a trivial task to take your car to VW for the upgrade so you get a tick-in-the-box on their system and get a nice, official certificate (i.e. so your car is compliant with the type and therefore subject to the correct VED), and then stop off on the way home to have a performance map put back on again?

    If the former then that's a big nail in the coffin for car tuning specialists; if the latter then it would appear that this is a completely pointless exercise.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Big risk

      If you do that, then your car later fails an MOT (which it will) and someone guesses what you did, you could be in deep (expensive) doodoo.

  15. Anonymous John

    Audi have admitted that 2.1million Audi diesels also use the cheat software.

    "Bild am Sonntag said a VW internal investigation found parts supplier Bosch had warned Volkswagen not to use its software illegally."

    How can there can be a legal use of cheat software?

    1. ntevanza

      Re: Audi have admitted that 2.1million Audi diesels also use the cheat software.

      HFT?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Go Petrol Go!

    Petrolheads only please: - Can you convert a car from diesel to petrol economically?

    1. seven of five

      Re: Go Petrol Go!

      given (amongst others) the lack of an ignition system and the engine being built to a compression waaaaay above one suitable for gasoline, i´d say: no.

    2. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Go Petrol Go!

      British army fighting vehicle of old, such as the Chieftain tank, could be converted with a spanner fairly quickly.

      It wasn't wholly successful. They didn't run very well on either fuel, and if run on petrol for an extended period of time the piston rings would wear quite quickly. The result was that they could start dieseling on their own lubrication oil, and run out of control and explode. Apparently running away was the recommended course of action.

    3. ntevanza

      Re: Go Petrol Go!

      No.

  17. John Crisp

    Sales of goods

    Usually the statute of limitations would be 6 years if memory hasn't failed me, though there may be extenuating circumtances which may extend or reduce that.

    In this instance it is probably falls under something like 'contract misrepresentation'.

    Normally you would have to prove the manufacturer was at fault, but that's been done. Simply speaking if you bought it within 6 years VW are going to have to cough in one way or another and no excuses.

    Happy to be corrected by a knowledgeable solicitor type as I'm very rusty on this stuff.

  18. Louis Schreurs BEng
    Devil

    Day One

    Cars with an ECU for emisssions control have had the mapping for passing legislations testing in it since day one. (Uhm, also with NO ECU, the mechanical/electrical sensors/valves/whatnot would have a time/temperature/pressure/whatnot profile to meet test requirements.)

    Mapping is always suited to the test the legislator requires the car/vehicle to pass. All other circumstances that are not in the test just are mapped according to common sense to get a balanced economy/power/lifetime/u name I.T. performance of the car and drive-train.

    Legislators testing-cycles do not conform with individual driving styles. This has been an issue for years and years and .....

    So What Is Cheating?????????

    BTW this is why you never get the mileage that test-results promise.

  19. Tom Samplonius

    "...leaving him struggling with a €3.2 million severance payment and a €1 million annual pension."

    He is going to be struggling for real, if charged with fraud in the US. If you deliberately lie in order to sell something (as opposed to be being merely incompetent), that is fraud. And it appears that many people inside VW knew this was going on. It might be hard to provide that the CEO knew. So 400,000 fraud charges is going to result in some major prison time. And federal US prisons aren't like those country clubs that you call prisons in the EU. This whole thing is going to come down to email, and finding out who knew what and when.

    So, $8B for repairs. Up to $18B in EPA fines for the defeat devices, but likely $4B to $5B once settled out. Possibly fraud charges against VW directly for $1B or so (GM is nearing a $900M criminal settlement in the US over the ignition switch issue, and Toyota was fined $1.2B over the throttle issue). Plus, class action lawsuits in every country that allows them for probably billions each. I don't think VW is going to survive this. They are done.

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