back to article Volkswagen blames emissions cheating on 'chain of errors'

Volkswagen has released the initial findings of an ongoing internal review in the emissions scandal that has engulfed it in recent months and concluded that it was a few bad apples and a "chain of errors." At a press conference at the car manufacturer's headquarters in Wolfsburg, its chairman, Hans Dieter Potsch, tried to put …

  1. oldtaku
    Devil

    Uh huh.

    Even if you buy this without skepticism, it conveniently leaves out that it's all due to Potsch's demands.

    He's infamous for being a crazy tyrant who will threaten to sack entire departments if they can't deliver some feature in some crazy timeframe. And often they do crunch and get it done, which just encourages him. If not, Auf Wiedersehen.

    In this case, if you believe his version of events, apparently they realized they could not reach the mileage / power / emissions specs he was demanding, so it was their jobs or a cheat and they went with the cheat.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Uh huh.

      Demands a bit like this then? http://www.vgcats.com/comics/?strip_id=325

      "I'd like a beard please"

      "But sir, it does not work like that..."

      "You're a hairdresser, make it happen!"

    2. circusmole
      FAIL

      Re: Uh huh.

      I agree.

      This proclamation is the output of an "Internal Investigation" carried by VW expressly for VW's benefit. Tell me what springs to mind when you hear about "Internal Investigations" - that's right, bullshit, bullshit and more bullshit. This is all about management CYA, nothing more.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      DEATH SPEAKS IN CAPITALS

      (according to Dr Pratchett)

      CALCULATIONS IN USA SHOW THAT THE FAKE NOx RESULTS HAVE RESULTED IN AROUND 500 EXCESS DEATHS, JUST IN THE USA, FROM THEIR HALF-MILLION FAKERS.

      FOR ME, THE WORRY IS MORE THE EXCESS DEATHS IN EUROPEAN CITIES, WHERE THE PM10 (actually mostly sub-micrometre particulates) ARE BIOAVAILABILE AND CONTAMINATED WITH POLYAROMATICS, SUCH AS BENZENE. THE LIFE-FACTOR REDUCTION OF URBAN LIVING IN CENTRAL LONDON, MILAN ETC IS A five year penalty, EARLY CHECK-OUT.

      THATS THE CONTEXT OF FAKE CAR EMISSIONS. DEATH. EXCESS.

      1. Roq D. Kasba

        PR balls-up

        Much like our Microsoft friends bollocksing up their One Drive storage quota issue, the fuck up is only compounded by the PR.

        A good response would have been 'wow, we fucked up so bad, let's use this as a chance to get our house in order and unearth other problems and be publicly contrite and engage the public about anything else we should investigate etc'. Cost is a lot more in the short term, but you can be seen to DO THE RIGHT THING, and get redemption story cred from it. Instead it's just weasel words, wriggling, passive tenses 'mistakes were made' vs 'we fucked up'. It's like a passive aggressive 'we're sorry our customers don't like PM2.5 emissions from our great value cleanest ever engine across our full range in store now'.

        Punters aren't dumb. They assume car companies are a bunch of wide boys who will try to cheat, much as they know tobacco companies will do everything possible to build a market. Weasel words just look like you hold the public in contempt, throwing away a chance to take the high ground and have a very public redemption.

        1. Robert Grant

          Re: PR balls-up

          Agree 100% - just wanted to say you can keep your OneDrive storage if you opt in: http://www.windowscentral.com/onedrive-users-can-keep-their-free-15gb-storage.

          1. Roq D. Kasba

            Re: PR balls-up @Robert

            Indeed - that's the worst of it. Taking away something they'd offered, then backpedaling, but not doing so publicly. Balls-up, then throwing away the opportunity to make good, so everyone still thinks of you as the company that took something away, even though you gave it in the first place, then have it back again. Terrible PR management.

      2. dotdavid

        Re: DEATH SPEAKS IN CAPITALS

        > CALCULATIONS IN USA SHOW THAT THE FAKE NOx RESULTS HAVE RESULTED IN AROUND 500 EXCESS DEATHS

        Calculations in UK show that the fake NOx results have resulted in several broken keyboards caused by EXCESSIVE CAPS-LOCK SHOUTING

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: DEATH SPEAKS IN CAPITALS (if you're American)

        For a country that kills more than that a year under the guise of "friendly fire"

        Hypocrite

  2. elDog Silver badge

    There's a river in Africa - de Nile. Along with de Flect it makes up VW's de Fence.

    When I first saw the "chain of errors" comment I knew that de deutchers weren't going to be honest and fall on their swards.

    Sometimes the best that can be made from a pile of turds is a new garden. Eventually flowers will grow again. Stop shoveling manure!

    1. Mpeler
      FAIL

      Re: There's a river in Africa - de Nile. Along with de Flect it makes up VW's de Fence.

      WWII ended 70 years ago.

      Apparently it's still going on inside your head.

      Ahhh, how about all those great British cars, eh?

      1. Captain Queeg

        Re: There's a river in Africa - de Nile. Along with de Flect it makes up VW's de Fence.

        @Mpeler

        The reasons for the British Motor Industry failing are manifold, but it's worth making the point that any lying they did was pretty much subjective (words like "stylish" or "fun" can't be objectively disputed) - I'm not aware of any, say Rootes or Austin outright objective lies deliberately told to deceive potential buyers.

        That said the vehicles were pretty grim.

        http://youtu.be/lO_6lve0kt4

        Vroom? /me shakes head

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There's a river in Africa - de Nile. Along with de Flect it makes up VW's de Fence.

          @Captain Queeg

          I beg to differ. Calling a Morris Marina a "modern vehicle" was complete and utter lie!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: There's a river in Africa - de Nile. Along with de Flect it makes up VW's de Fence.

            From the down vote, I guess we have a member of the Morris Marina Owners Club on The Register...

            1. TeeCee Gold badge
              Headmaster

              Re: There's a river in Africa - de Nile. Along with de Flect it makes up VW's de Fence.

              I think you'll find that's the member of the Morris Marina Owners' Club.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There's a river in Africa - de Nile. Along with de Flect it makes up VW's de Fence.

          "I'm not aware of any, say Rootes or Austin outright objective lies deliberately told to deceive potential buyers"

          "the Chrysler 180 will take the Rep market from the Ford Cortina"

          "Rover SD1, our best and most reliable Rover yet"

          Just 2 examples for you

      2. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: There's a river in Africa - de Nile. Along with de Flect it makes up VW's de Fence.

        "WWII ended 70 years ago.

        Apparently it's still going on inside your head.

        Ahhh, how about all those great British cars, eh?"

        I have two words for you: "non" and "sequitur". Now, you might not know what they mean, so here's a question: what on Earth connects your comment about World War Two and his comment about VW's defence being to fire up the Bullshit Express?

        1. Mpeler
          Mushroom

          Re: There's a river in Africa - de Nile. Along with de Flect it makes up VW's de Fence.

          Actually I do. I'm an American, so you can thank us for winning that war for you while you're at it.

          POM.

          1. LucreLout Silver badge

            Re: There's a river in Africa - de Nile. Along with de Flect it makes up VW's de Fence.

            Actually I do. I'm an American, so you can thank us for winning that war for you while you're at it.

            Yawn - turning up in time for the victory dance is winning like Charlie Sheen. And you only did that because the Japs had just handed you your ass on a plate, and you needed our help with them.

            In the history of your nation, is there a war you've won without us being there to hold your hand? I can't think of one just now.... Pretty well everyone America has ever fought without our help has whooped it's ass, from the Canadians through to the Vietnamese.

      3. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: There's a river in Africa - de Nile. Along with de Flect it makes up VW's de Fence.

        @Mpeler

        Ahhh, how about all those great British cars, eh?

        Ok, nobody (sane) would dispute that for the past 50 years, Audi/BMW/Mercedes have made significantly better cars than Rover managed.

        That, however, doesn't absolve VW for behaving like Deutschebags over this self inflicted problem. As an organisation, they knew what the rules were, and decided to cheat in order to gain market share over their less dishonest rivals. Now is the time for humility, not nationalistic willy waving.

        The idea of announcing a press conference titled "Problem resolved" or words to that effect, is to try to move the terms of the debate, restrict the scope and depth of any impartial investigation, and to try to arrest the PR death-spiral they've brought about. This will not work, and they're being badly advised by whomever told them it might.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There's a river in Africa - de Nile. Along with de Flect it makes up VW's de Fence.

      Fall on their swards? A sward is, of course, the "surface or upper layer of ground usually covered with herbage". Interestingly, elDog goes on to write about gardens and flowers, so perhaps that really is what was meant.

      1. Roo
        Windows

        Re: There's a river in Africa - de Nile. Along with de Flect it makes up VW's de Fence.

        "Fall on their swards?"

        Well you wouldn't want some poor Exec to fall face first into a pile of shit just because he lied, coerced staff into making bad design decisions and fired anyone who disagreed with them so they could get a bigger bonus at the expense of the health of some folks they don't know would you ?

        It would be a more constructive use of everyone's time & attention if these VW execs were flown out to Kabul for interrogation^Winvestigation. This is the best possible option because the US & UK governments assure us that the methods used are humane and the most effective way to ensure that criminals don't injure/maim/kill thousands of innocent people.

  3. Andy france
    Facepalm

    These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

    I hate people talking about a "defeat device". It almost sounds like some hardware gadget that has been fitted to the car to cheat the tests. In reality what we have is engine management software that rather sensibly manages the engine performance and emissions in a manner most befitting the task at hand. One inevitable side effect is that in situations resembling an emission test the emissions and performance are both very low, but when the driver puts his foot down on the open road the engine management software delivers at the expense of pushing out lots and lots of nasty emissions.

    Now imagine that one software team was tasked with developing the high performance section of the code and another team with reducing emissions in the low performance aka. "testing" sections of the code where the engine was seen to be lacking. Has either team done anything "wrong" by not taking into account the big picture? It's so easy to attribute malevolence to what could be incompetence.

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

      Do you work for VW, perchance...?

      1. david 12 Bronze badge

        Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

        No, I don't work for VW, and I don't drive a diesel. But I do write embedded software, and I do work in the altermative-technology energy sector. It is clear that there is no "defeat device", and repeated use of that term just makes the editors seem cheap and stupid.

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

          "It is clear that there is no "defeat device","

          A "device" does not have to be a physical object; it is an alternative word to "design", like Kubhla Khan's "miracle of rare device". So stop trying to use semantics to avoid admitting the obvious truth.

          1. david 12 Bronze badge

            Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

            If, by chance, your are refering to my posting, let me point out that I have never tried to avoid the obvious truth, and never claimed any excuse for the moral or criminal failure of VW (management or engineering).

            I'm interested in both the technical and systemic origins of crimes, and simplistic, misleading, or just plain false explanations may be entertaining, but they don't help me.

            For example, (from above) "detection routine which recognizes which test is being run and setting the engine MAP explicitly to a set of values which are used only in a test."

            That is a false description, so it doesn't help identify the technical or management failures which lead to this crime.. Cheap and careless reporting leads to false descriptions like that I just quoted, and so cheap and careless reporting doesn't help identify the technical or management failures which lead to this crime.

            Hiding behind semantic justifications like "a device is a system" doesn't help either: there is no system specifically dedicated to cheating, and pretending that there is, while understandable given the poor level of reporting and edititing demonstrated here, doesn't get you any closer to punishing those properly responsible for the crime.

            Which reminds me that no, I wouldn't take anything that VW says on face value, even if it was accurately reported in the comments section of a news source, acccurately derived from an English language press release. (Which, with respect, doesn't seem to be the case here).

        2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

          Re: These is no such thing as an "Admission Device"

          There is a device device in devizes I think it is a Eurolink subsidiary device currently subdivisied to poetchically named eothically challenged Bodger Poetcher for a spell.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

          > It is clear that there is no "defeat device", and repeated use of that term just makes the editors seem cheap and stupid.

          I believe, but as always I am willing to be corrected, that the expression "defeat device" is a legal or technical term from whoever is responsible for these things in the States. It was first used in some press release and then the media latched onto it.

          Just mentioning it, as it is not clear whether you were aware where the expression came from and that could, or not, influence your opinion on this matter.

    2. Steve Knox Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

      "rather sensibly manages the engine performance and emissions in a manner most befitting the task at hand."

      Since the emissions are supposed to be under the limit even when "the driver puts his foot down on the open road", when "the engine management software delivers at the expense of pushing out lots and lots of nasty emissions" it is by definition not sensibly managing emissions.

      1. patrickstar

        Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

        I assume that emissions standards specify an average rate over time, as opposed to a peak rate. Then having high- and low-emission/performance modes isn't an issue in itself, but rather the logic that decides when and for how long each mode runs. And I'd imagine the finer points are worked out empirically rather than being part of the original specifications, so cheating could very well be introduced late in the development cycle by a small group as opposed to being something everyone had to be aware of.

    3. Big John Silver badge

      Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

      > "Has either team done anything "wrong" by not taking into account the big picture? It's so easy to attribute malevolence to what could be incompetence."

      So it's an 'emergent systems error'. The various actors for their own reasons did things independently that in toto appear so beneficial for the company as to be suspicious.

      I'd like to say "BS!", but it has the unfortunate ring of reality. However, even if we accept that, it just opens the door for other companies to cheat and blame it on "some emergent thingy."

    4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

      rather sensibly manages the engine performance and emissions in a manner most befitting the task at hand

      Which is exactly what is missing from the report. The task at hand as done by a software engineer is defined by management. The report leaves that out completely.

      There is a world of difference between optimizing for the car not moving and programming a detection routine which recognizes which test is being run and setting the engine MAP explicitly to a set of values which are used only in a test. The former is a valid optimization. The latter is fraud.

      By the way, the combination of your opinion and the industry you work in (as noted in your other post) is not surprising. At least for me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

        VW already called it a defeat device. Did they call it that in error?

      2. nijam Silver badge

        Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

        > ... The latter is fraud.

        By that argument, so is revising for an exam.

    5. Dr_N Silver badge

      Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

      "I hate people talking about a "defeat device"."

      I hate* people spreading FUD about the criminal activities of VW in spite of the fact that VW themselves have already held their hands up and admitted their guilt.

      Or is this just part of a deep-cover VAG PR/marketdroid master plan?

      *hate is a really overused word for this, really.

    6. GW7
      Boffin

      Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

      REGULATION (EC) No 715/2007

      Article 3

      Definitions

      10. ‘defeat device’ means any element of design which senses temperature, vehicle speed, engine speed (RPM), transmission gear, manifold vacuum or any other parameter for the purpose of activating, modulating, delaying or deactivating the operation of any part of the emission control system, that reduces the effectiveness of the emission control system under conditions which may reasonably be expected to be encountered in normal vehicle operation and use;

      Sounds EXACTLY like the elements of design that VW used to fraudulently gain type approvals for their EA189 diesels.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

        Well informed fact based comment quoting primary sources. Whatever next!

        Seasons greetings.

      2. nijam Silver badge

        Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

        > ... encountered in normal vehicle operation ...

        In other words, *not* in a test. So the regulation you quote means that what VW are alleged to have done is actually OK after all.

        1. I am not spartacus

          Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

          "So the regulation you quote means that what VW are alleged to have done is actually OK after all."

          No, you have misread it. You are not allowed to change away from the mode used for the test for any mode of normal operation, so what they did is not OK, unless they can argue that 'everyday driving' is, in some way, not normal operation. I can hear them cranking up their lawyers right now...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

          > In other words, *not* in a test

          Granted that the wording of the regulation may be somewhat confusing. I had to read it twice to realise that in this bit:

          "that reduces the effectiveness of the emission control system under conditions which may reasonably be expected to be encountered in normal vehicle operation and use;"

          The "emission control system" must be the thing that measures the car's emissions for certification or whatever purposes, as opposed to the thing that prevents harmful stuff from being released into the atmosphere.

          Or is it me who is misreading it?

      3. Andy france

        Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

        I stand corrected. Based on this definition there is indeed such a thing as a "defeat device". Thank you.

      4. AndrewDu

        Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

        "conditions which may reasonably be expected to be encountered in normal vehicle operation and use"

        Interesting.

        Does "normal operation and use" include the artificial environment of a test bed? It's arguable that it does not. So perhaps in fact VW did comply with the letter of this particular regulation.

    7. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: These is no such thing as a "Defeat Device"

      Hmm. Much the same approach as a fixed-jet carburettor (when such things were used) and the reason why fixed-jet types stayed in use until the very end, despite being utterly crap by comparison to variable venturi types.

      The fixed-jet type allows the fitting of a nice, lean idle jet (for testing at idle) along with a big, fat main jet[1] so yer boy racer's clog produces the desired effect at revolutions where the rules don't give a toss what's coming out of the tailpipe.

      [1] and often an accelerator pump to squirt neat fuel directly into the venturi when you clog it. Yes, these things are to accurate fuelling what a 4lb club hammer is to tappet adjustment.

  4. jgarry

    Given the realities of large corps, I don't think Occam's Razor applies, but consider:

    What if the general spec was "maximize power when accelerating, minimize emissions when in some constant mode?"

    You might honestly come up with engine management software that does that - cause and effect flips because most of the test conditions are constant, like "on dynamometer, hold at 30kph for n seconds."

    Of course, someone still might have noticed that and gone "haha, that fools the test specs too!"

    1. Fonant

      The USA emissions drive cycle is not constant, it's an attempt at a representation of a normal trip's driving. It does have limited top speeds, which is a bit of an issue, but it has some quite fast accelerations that certainly test the car's emissions control systems pretty well.

      You can see the speed versus time graphs here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FTP-75

  5. Graham Marsden
    Holmes

    concluded that it was a few bad apples and a "chain of errors"

    Didn't the Tobacco Companies say similar things when they tried to bury reports that cigarettes caused cancer...?

    1. Pompous Git Silver badge

      Re: concluded that it was a few bad apples and a "chain of errors"

      Didn't the Tobacco Companies say similar things when they tried to bury reports that cigarettes caused cancer...?

      Odd thing is that there's no linear relationship between lung cancer and tobacco consumption. There is however a linear relationship between ischaemic heart disease/lung cancer and amount of vehicular travel.

      While Mr Robinson does not discount such things as diet, exercise and smoking as contributory factors to disease, he says that the mathematical relationship cannot be shown between these factors and illnesses as it can between travel and the ailments.

      For instance, between 1920-1972, lung cancer in Australia increased by 2810 per cent, which is about the same (2840 per cent) rate of increase in petrol consumption for the period.

      But tobacco consumption in that period increased only by 69 per cent.

      See: http://www.mercurynie.com.au/mathguys/articles/1991/910611a1.htm

      While causation is not proof of causation, lack of correlation indicates lack of causation. IOW a genuine causal link between tobacco consumption and lung cancer has never been established. This does not mean tobacco is not a contributing factor. As Meyer said at the time, tobacco has a small multiplying effect.

      Disclaimer: I proofread and edited Meyer's original MS prior to publication. The book was a flop in the marketplace largely because people hate being told that doing something they love (driving) is really bad for their health. So it goes...

      1. Stork Bronze badge

        Re: concluded that it was a few bad apples and a "chain of errors"

        I also seem to remember that for many years the number of lung cancer cases rose proportionally with the number of phones installed - but I don't think anyone suggested a link.

      2. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: concluded that it was a few bad apples and a "chain of errors"

        "While causation is not proof of causation"

        I beg to differ. I definitely think causation is proof of causation. Now correlation might not be proof of causation, I agree.

      3. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: concluded that it was a few bad apples and a "chain of errors"

        "Odd thing is that there's no linear relationship between lung cancer and tobacco consumption. There is however a linear relationship between ischaemic heart disease/lung cancer and amount of vehicular travel."

        Why should we expect a linear relationship? That seems quite crazy actually. Because eventually it means that I will have a more than 100% chance of getting lung cancer.

        We are very happy with a correlative, even causative, link, between getting shot in the face and dying. But if you get shot in the face fifteen times you still only die once. Linear relationships between a potentially infinite quantity (tobacco consumed) and a finite quantity (proportion of people getting lung cancer) cannot exist, logically.

        And expecting perfect correlation, as in the article you linked, is just as stupid. In that case, margarine consumption in the US definitely causes divorces in Maine, as there is a 0.99 correlation between them. See, for example,

        http://twentytwowords.com/funny-graphs-show-correlation-between-completely-unrelated-stats-9-pictures/

        And so the rest of your post, along with this Mr Robinson's argument, collapses.

        Disclaimer: I have a DPhil in mathematics from the University of Oxford, and around ten years' experience in mathematics research. I have been asked for comment on mathematics and statistics matters by various publications including the BBC, the Guardian and the British Medical Journal. Mr Robinson's argument is bullshit, and that might have been why his book was a flop.

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: concluded that it was a few bad apples and a "chain of errors"

          Why should we expect a linear relationship? That seems quite crazy actually. Because eventually it means that I will have a more than 100% chance of getting lung cancer.

          Cartoon example:

          There are 1,000,000 smokers in the country.

          The rate of death from lung cancer is 1%.

          Therefore there are 10,000 lung cancer deaths.

          Tobacco consumption increases by 50%.

          There are now 1,500,000 smokers.

          If the rate of death from lung cancer remains constant, we should expect to see 15,000 lung cancer deaths.

          We don't. Instead we see a greater number implying either that over time tobacco becomes ever more potent, or that some other factor is in play.

          Individual smokers do not consume "a potentially infinite quantity" of tobacco. That is logically impossible.

          FWIW, the average cigarette has decreased in both nicotine and tar content over the years. It's an odd substance that becomes more toxic when you consume less of it.

          1. Roo
            Windows

            Re: concluded that it was a few bad apples and a "chain of errors"

            "It's an odd substance that becomes more toxic when you consume less of it."

            I hope you stay well away from the advising HMG - they'll ban Oxygen before you know it. :)

      4. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: concluded that it was a few bad apples and a "chain of errors"

        "While causation is not proof of causation, lack of correlation indicates lack of causation."

        I hope you edited it better than the editor of the book I read recently where semiconductor holes were confused with positrons. Because, to be quite frank, your understanding of statistical analysis and pattern identification would seem to be defective.

        Take a look at this:

        Trends in lung cancer

        That's right; during the period shown male lung cancer was going down while that in women was going up. That's just ruled out your "petrol consumption" as an explanation, right there, along with a whole lot of other "correlations".

        So why the change in pattern? Because, as the text explains, male smoking peaked earlier and men started to give up, while smoking in women continued to increase. Given the delay in onset of lung cancer, that's evidence. In fact, the very next graph shows very elegantly how as the incidence of male smoking converged with that of women smoking, so the male and female lung cancer rates are also converging rapidly with time.

        Another paper you might like to look at is BMB study which shows that smoking can be treated as an epidemic which has a surprisingly common epidemiology across ranges of countries.

        There is other evidence that during the period, while the incidence of women smoking broadly stabilised the pattern of smoking changed; as wages increased the women who did smoke, smoked more. See Patterns of tobacco use, the paragraph on incidence of heavy smoking.

        The tl;dr is that you are quite wrong; a simplistic correlation of petrol use to lung cancer is contradicted as soon as the facts are looked at in any detail, whereas once the detail is investigated extremely strong correlations are established between patterns of smoking with time, gender and duration of smoking, and lung cancer incidence.

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: concluded that it was a few bad apples and a "chain of errors"

          I hope you edited it better than the editor of the book I read recently where semiconductor holes were confused with positrons.

          A technical book usually has many editors. The original MS was several thousand pages and unreadable by a layman. I highlighted what should be focussed on to generate a readable book; that is what should be omitted. The original MS (that I still possess) contained most of the contents of the following:

          Disturbances in the blood due to driving

          http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/0306-9877(82)90026-3/abstract

          Heart disease, cancer and vehicle travel

          http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/0306-9877(79)90012-4/abstract

          Male, female heart disease-relationship with vehicle travel

          http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/0306-9877(79)90104-X/abstract

          Cerebrovascular disease, ischaemic heart disease, and the stress of vehicle travel

          http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/0306-9877(89)90093-5/abstract

          Ischaemic heart disease, and vehicle travel

          http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/0306-9877(87)90061-2/abstract

          Diseases of malfunction of body mechanisms. (Heart disease, diabetes, cancer etc.) risk by occupation, and correlation, male and female, with vehicle travel

          http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/0306-9877(83)90087-7/abstract

          Cancer: A statistical relationship with road accident deaths and driving

          http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/0306-9877(94)90057-4/abstract

          Leukaemia, a close association with vehicle travel

          http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/0306-9877(91)90264-Y/abstract

          Cancer deaths due to all causes, its relationship with vehicle travel in Australia, Japan and European countries

          http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/0306-9877(91)90263-X/abstract

          The prediction of lung cancer in Australia 1939–1981

          http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/0306-9877(86)90035-6/abstract

          Lung cancer, the motor vehicle and its subtle influence on body functions

          http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/0306-9877(89)90151-5/abstract

          Cancer of the lymphatic system and leukaemia a correlation with vehicle accidents

          http://www.medical-hypotheses.com/article/0306-9877(82)90165-7/abstract

          As well, I looked at some of the data myself:

          http://www.maths.utas.edu.au/DHStat/Data/CancPet.html

          Here you will see that a 10% increase in the population of smokers does not result in a 10% increase in lung cancer deaths. The amount of increase depends on when it occurred in time. The increase in lung cancer deaths was readily predicted by knowing the increase in petrol consumption, as was the rate of ischaemic heart disease.

          Further, the rate of these diseases where driving did not occur was zero. In the 35 years that data was available for Risdon Prison, the number of prisoners dying from these diseases was zero. New Guinea Highlanders who remain in the highlands where there are no motor cars also have a zero rate of incidence. Two years after moving to Port Moresby, the rate of these diseases is the same as the general population. This could not be attributed to dietary change; I checked. Trappist monks do not suffer from ischaemic heart disease.

          The tl;dr is that you are quite wrong

          Not really. I was asked to fact check a very long MS. I read all of Robinson's papers and several he referred to. I discussed some of the data with a statistician working with the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics since I was not a statistician. He confirmed that Robinson's statistical analyses were kosher. I also discussed it with a medical practitioner whose response was "But everybody already knows this". Not me obviously! Consequently, I recommended publication. I did what I was paid to do. All later editing/proofreading was either done by the publisher or someone he hired.

          I do accept responsibility for the typo in "While causation is not proof of causation, lack of correlation indicates lack of causation" where clearly I meant to type "While causation is not proof of correlation". My bad.

  6. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Is VW the sacrificial lamb

    US environmental policy often seems to be driven by pure politics. VW is an uppity German company making inroads and apparently not greasing the right hands. Therefore VW must be hammered for both their sins and the sins of the USEPA.

    The US EPA is known to release a regulation without considering how one can properly test for compliance. The last time I checked the US EPA had regulation require flammable solid wastes be classified as a hazardous waste. But they had no test suitable for testing these wastes. I often wondered if someone should have sued the USEPA for the illegal disposal of paper - it is flammable.

    1. Mpeler
      Holmes

      Re: Is VW the sacrificial lamb

      The EPA know full well their freshly minted "standards" are not attainable. Notice also the paucity of US-made diesel autos. They have been trying to kill diesel autos for 30 years now, even longer in Kalifornistan (of which I am a native, so I know of what I speak).

      The EPA is also trying to control ALL waterways, be they tiny streams, temporary ponds, whatever, so they can tell farmers what to do. It is all a thinly-veiled power grab.

      Other automakers are now being investigated in the EU. Seems that VW were the ones that got "caught".

      This time...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is VW the sacrificial lamb

        "The EPA is also trying to control ALL waterways, be they tiny streams, temporary ponds, whatever, so they can tell farmers what to do. "

        Not surprisingly, since what farmers do includes runoff, illegal discharges and stuffing animals with antibiotics and hormones which find their way elsewhere in the food chain. Farming needs to be more tightly regulated, and not by agribusiness.

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

          Re: Is VW the sacrificial lamb

          Also do you realise what's happening to your aquifers in the land of the perma-tanned? The EPA probably has the right idea in this case. If climate change hits the west coast rainfall patterns in the next few years you're pretty much screwed.

    2. Ledswinger Silver badge

      Re: Is VW the sacrificial lamb

      VW is an uppity German company making inroads and apparently not greasing the right hands.

      Bears defecate in woods et al. The politicisation and petty nationalism of US regulators is well known (and certainly not unique to the US). If VW wanted a piece of the US car market, then they knew the official rules - and the unofficial one that when furrin companies are caught breaking the rules, they have the book thrown at them). In part that's an occupational hazard of doing business in the US, and applies to all foreign companies, regardless of their foreign domicile or their market. But in this particular case VW should have evaluated the consequences of being caught cheating, and understood that the consequences would be public shame and a big fat fine, probably in the low multi-billion dollar range. One thing they might have also assumed would be lost sales and brand damage, but a quick google suggests that those apply more in Europe than the US.

      So on balance, VW a sacrificial lamb? Nope. Just a reckless company who decided to try and outwit the regulators regardless of the likely consequences.

  7. DerekCurrie
    Devil

    hahaha HaHaHa! HAHAHA!!!

    A new corporate low. Capitalism in rot mode. A shame that.

  8. tolstoshev

    Mistakes were made, but not by me

  9. Rich_B

    A "qualified mechanic" is NOT required to top-off the NOx reduction fluid -- sometimes called Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) (especially in the US) or AdBlue in Europe.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Though one might reasonably expect

      based on similar servicing requirements, that the only person able to tell the ECU that the canister has been refilled will be the 'qualified mechanic' equipped with the appropriate software. Only a cynic would suggest that said software will be either restricted to main/approved repair centres, and/or hideously expensive.

      One would think that an ECU which is capable of noting when filters and oil require changing by changes in the inputs to the system and the way the car is driven as well as simply by distance or time might also be capable of noting that said fluids and filters have been changed...

      1. MrT

        Re: Though one might reasonably expect

        Or fit the Adblue tank with a float device like the fuel tank. If that's too bulky then an optical system such as is used in printer ink tanks to warn 'low' and 'empty'.

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Though one might reasonably expect

          "Or fit the Adblue tank with a float device like the fuel tank. If that's too bulky then an optical system such as is used in printer ink tanks to warn 'low' and 'empty'."

          Yeah, because printer ink is a market where dodgy devices have never been installed to stop people using third-party suppliers.

      2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: Though one might reasonably expect

        One would think that an ECU which is capable of noting when filters and oil require changing by changes in the inputs to the system and the way the car is driven as well as simply by distance or time might also be capable of noting that said fluids and filters have been changed...

        It is. My (VW group) car has an AdBlue filler beside the fuel filler, a warning light on the dash, and a note in the handbook to put a minimum of 8litres in when the light comes on. It's no more complex than filling the screenwash.

        1. Ledswinger Silver badge

          Re: Though one might reasonably expect

          It's no more complex than filling the screenwash.

          This is the Reg forums, well informed fact is NOT welcome here!

          Look at the two previous commentards hissing and spitting at each other in a fine display of mutual ignorance. And now you've spoilt it.

        2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          Re: Though one might reasonably expect

          Thanks, Phil. I had read elsewhere that the adblue refill was not a user-allowed function; apparently this is not the case.

          My own Fiat diesel predates this technology so I have no direct experience.

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: Though one might reasonably expect

            I had read elsewhere that the adblue refill was not a user-allowed function; apparently this is not the case.

            The dealer did say that when the light came on I could just call in & they'd do it for me, but the fluid is available in garages and the handbook certainly says it is user-possible.

      3. I am not spartacus

        Re: Though one might reasonably expect

        ...the only person able to tell the ECU that the canister has been refilled will be the 'qualified mechanic' equipped with the appropriate software...

        I don't think anyone has to tell the ECU that the canister has been refilled (and, if you mean Engine Control Unit, as well you might, it wouldn't be the ECU anyway).

        The level in the AdBlue tank is monitored, and, once it runs dry, you get two (?) attempts to start the engine, and then it won't play ball any more. I think this, or some variant, is mandated in the US and may or may not be mandated in Europe (although it is probably still there, given that it has to be present for the US).

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the only error is that I bought one of these

    I bought a 2015 model beetle TDI in late November 2014. I was impressed with the power and the fuel economy at the time, not to mention the fact I didn't have to add urea to it like most us diesels and I could get it with a manual transmission. I paid just over $28k for it. Then this scandal happed. the current Kelly blue book trade in price of the car is $14200. that's right. my 13 month old car with less than 9,000 miles is worth half of what I paid for it. Volkswagen still has not came up with a fix for it here in the US. the only thing I received was a $500 gift card good for any where and a $500 gift certificate to the VW parts department. I bet you can guess what they can do with those. it involves a arse, some lube and a whole lot of stuffing. well maybe not the lube.

    as far as I am concerned, screw VW and everyone of their employees that involved with this. bad apples may ass. I will never buy another VW product as long as I live. If they really wanted to make amends and foster some good will to loyal customers, then they should buy these cars back or let us trade it for another VW of equal value to what we paid for them originally minus whatever deprecation for the current mileage on the car.

    I am currently looking into the class actions that have been filed here in the US. I hate lawyers only slightly less than VW and I know that I would get jack squat once the lawyers take their cut., however it will make me happier to know that VW had to take it in the bum, just like they did to everyone that bought a TDI.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: the only error is that I bought one of these

      " I was impressed with the power and the fuel economy" ... "my 13 month old car with less than 9,000 miles is worth half of what I paid for it"

      Why don't you just keep the car for 5-10 years and get your money's worth out of it? Works for me (as a tight-fisted Aberdonian)

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: the only error is that I bought one of these

        "Why don't you just keep the car for 5-10 years and get your money's worth out of it?"

        Buying new and selling after a year or two results in a tax on vanity.

        1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

          Re: the only error is that I bought one of these

          or a tax on stupidity.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the only error is that I bought one of these

        Unfortunately keeping it is the only choice I have, seeing it is only worth half of what I paid for it so trading it in is not a option. Not only that but any dealer in their right mind would not take one on trade.

        Another thing we have to worry about is that federal or state agencies not allowing them to be licensed and driven any longer because they wont pass emissions. So far the government has not done it yet, but it wont be long until they do. They are good at doing crap like that here in California because "only a few people would be unconvinced" and "think about the greater good for the environment or all the children that will die because a few cars wont pass CO2 smog checks". Which would make the car worthless as I could not sell it or drive it. so its basically 28k down the drain. I anyone who bought one of these has the right to be a little angry with them.

        1. Marcus Fil

          Re: the only error is that I bought one of these

          Oh, but think of the bonfire it will make on your local VW dealership's lot. And all that lovely acrid black smoke it will give up - how many cars worth of emission cheating? How many bonfires before Washington tells VW to pay appropriate compensation or forget doing business in the US? Really guys - you should take a leaf out the French farmers' book - they know how to mount a good protest.

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: the only error is that I bought one of these

      "Then this scandal happed. the current Kelly blue book trade in price of the car is $14200. that's right. my 13 month old car with less than 9,000 miles is worth half of what I paid for it."

      What is the 13-month depreciation on other marques in the same range? For example, in the UK the VW Phaeton lost 60% of its value in the first year, and this was in 2014, before the emissions scandal. You need to look at Kelley Blue Book for Beetles in 2014 to get a comparison.

      "as far as I am concerned, screw VW and everyone of their employees that involved with this. bad apples may ass. I will never buy another VW product as long as I live. If they really wanted to make amends and foster some good will to loyal customers, then they should buy these cars back or let us trade it for another VW of equal value to what we paid for them originally minus whatever deprecation for the current mileage on the car."

      You don't sound much like a loyal customer to me, but anyway. So you won't buy another VW product for the rest of your life, but you still think that they should buy back hundreds of thousands of vehicles, at a cost of billions of dollars, presumably to scrap them, and then what? You still won't buy another one, so why would they bankrupt their firm because you have a car that does about 3% less mileage than you expected, based on ludicrous figures that nobody believes anyway?

      "however it will make me happier to know that VW had to take it in the bum, just like they did to everyone that bought a TDI."

      And to end, a bit of casual homophobia. Nice.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the only error is that I bought one of these

        @DavCrav "...a bit of casual homophobia."

        Not really.

        That 'bum' phrase would be more about 'rape' (against a male, someone that lacks a lady-garden), leaving their bum as the only practical metaphorical 'rape' target. VW's metaphorical financial 'rape' of their customers.

        Casting this 'bum' phrase as 'casual homophobia' could be you casually assuming that all gay men are rapist...

        Neither assertion is true.

        What actually happened here is that you didn't interpret the 'bum' phrase correctly. You ignored the unwillingness aspect that makes it 'rape'.

        I trust that this helps to clarify your thinking.

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: the only error is that I bought one of these

          "Not really.

          That 'bum' phrase would be more about 'rape' (against a male, someone that lacks a lady-garden), leaving their bum as the only practical metaphorical 'rape' target. VW's metaphorical financial 'rape' of their customers.

          Casting this 'bum' phrase as 'casual homophobia' could be you casually assuming that all gay men are rapist...

          Neither assertion is true.

          What actually happened here is that you didn't interpret the 'bum' phrase correctly. You ignored the unwillingness aspect that makes it 'rape'.

          I trust that this helps to clarify your thinking."

          OK, so it's either casual homophobia or casual joking-about-rape. Great choice there! Glad you cleared up the alternative, equally deplorable meaning.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: the only error is that I bought one of these

        DavCrav,

        It was not meant to be "casual homophobia" or "equated to rape". it is a euphemism for being screwed over or being taken advantage of by someone. I live in California, one of the most liberal states in the US and I support gay rights. why is it that everyone gets offended at everything these days or tries to misconstrue everything it to something it is not? you misconstruing my comment about being screwed over by VW to homophobia is like the NRA claiming the AR-15 is being discriminated against because it is "Black". but I am sure you will equate that to racism as well.

        Also to answer your question about 13 month deprecation on a similar car. the 2015 Chevy Cruze Diesel is priced around 27k the current trade in in on that model is around 22k. which is typical of a 13 month old car with that mialage. there is not really a way to compare it to another VW beetle because all years with TDI diesels back to 2009, and all of them have lost significant value do to the scandal whether it is a diesel or not. contrary to your belief, I was a loyal VW customer. I have owned 3. my current Beetle TDI, 1998 Jetta, and my first car as a 1970 Super Beetle. what I was saying is they should make it right, but they are not even attempting to do that. Yes they should buy them back. its not about 3% less fuel mileage, its the fact they knew it would not pass smog and sold them anyway. they were deliberate in deceiving the customers and because of that they lost my trust and my business. If that's they way they do business, they deserve to go bankrupt, just like GM and Chrysler, granted VW didn't kill people over a 10 cent spring in an ignition switch like GM did but its the same principle. both companies knew what was right and what was wrong and chose to shaft the customer. by the way, there are about 500,000 effect cars, at roughly 28k each would be around 14billion. about half of what the proposed EPA fine. they should say "our fault, let use buy them back as part of the fine" that way the customer wins, the government gets its pound of flesh, VW get off easy. I am not asking for anything unreasonable. 28k minus the deprecation for mileage and were and tear is a fair deal, considering the shafting we got form VW.

  11. Stork Bronze badge

    I just hope someone takes VW to court for tax evasion - a lot of cars have falsely been classed as more economical in a number of countries, giving lower tax.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Surely the owners would be taken to court then, they are responsible for paying the road tax?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC

        It can't be the vehicle owners fault that these cars don't meet the required emissions to qualify for the lower tax, it can ONLY be VW's fault for cheating with the regulations. VW is at fault because they are the cheaters

  12. glen waverley

    Nominative determinism?

    "... Audi technical boss Dr Ulrich Hackenberg ..."

  13. sysconfig

    The affair is far from "largely concluded"

    Indeed. My Audi is affected. All I got so far from Audi is a letter confirming just that and essentially telling me to sit tight and wait until they have a plan.

    In the meantime, the resale value of the car has dropped (not that I don't like the car or want to sell right now, but I have paid more than I should have, given these revelations). Depending on how they intend to go about fixing the issue, the value may drop further (lower MPG, maybe lower BHP, possibly higher taxes based on re-assessed emissions).

    So it could be the case that keeping the car costs me more money than it did before, and selling it will lose me money too. Between a rock and a hard place.

    The affair cannot possibly be concluded before all owners of affected cars know what exactly VW/Audi plan to do to fix it (how and to which effect), and compensate owners one way or another.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: The affair is far from "largely concluded"

      "In the meantime, the resale value of the car has dropped (not that I don't like the car or want to sell right now, but I have paid more than I should have, given these revelations). Depending on how they intend to go about fixing the issue, the value may drop further (lower MPG, maybe lower BHP, possibly higher taxes based on re-assessed emissions)."

      I'd be highly surprised if VW really do find a 'technical' fix for this that isn't to retrofit AdBlue or something similar. The reason the cheating was done was because they couldn't pass the tests truthfully, at least not with the R&D budget of VW, which is big. And notably neither could any other car company, with all their R&D budgets, which add together to make many-big. If many-big money couldn't solve this problem, why would shouting at R&D people and waving a stick make it work? This isn't Star Trek, and telling your Chief Engineer that you only have six hours so get it done doesn't work in the real world, especially since your Chief Engineer has just been fired.

      Now I am not sure how easy retrofitting AdBlue to VW engines actually is, but it has to be reasonably difficult and expensive. So expect the process to be long and slow.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: The affair is far from "largely concluded"

        "I'd be highly surprised if VW really do find a 'technical' fix for this that isn't to retrofit AdBlue or something similar."

        Given the integrated nature of modern power trains and the inflexible nature of modern chassis, I doubt a retrofit would be remotely feasible at a sensible price, unless the vehicles were designed to be set up with or without - which I doubt. It isn't like the holes with plugs on the dashboards for the features you don't have.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The affair is far from "largely concluded"

        I'd be highly surprised if VW really do find a 'technical' fix for this that isn't to retrofit AdBlue or something similar.

        I wouldn't, it's not difficult.

        The problem they face is a tradeoff between CO2 and NOx emissions. To get good CO2 figures they need to burn lean, especially at low power outputs. Lean burn increases combustion chamber temperatures, and so promotes NOx production. All they need to do for lower NOx is increase fuelling at low power output to cool the combustion, that is what Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) does. A simple engine remap will fix that, perhaps with a tiny (< 1%) fuel consumption penalty.

        Increased fuelling, of course, increases CO2 output on the CO2 tests, and could potentially put the car in a different tax band. It may be that VW will be on the hook for this extra tax, especially in countries where there's an annual tax based on CO2 values, or if they are considered to have lied about the original tax band at purchase.

        It all comes back to the nonsensical idea of tax bands for CO2, and the unrealistic CO2 test cycle. If there's a tax band of, say, 111-120, then a CO2 increase from 119 to 120 is irrelevant, but 120 to 121, while equally insignificant, puts the car in a higher tax bracket, so there is huge pressure on the manufacturers not to cross the tax-band boundaries. The reality is that higher CO2 production corresponds to higher fuel consuption, and since over 60% of the pump price is already tax, any increase in CO2 already attacts higher tax, in a fully proportional way. There is no need for CO2 tax bands at all, it's a poiliticians solution to a "must be seen to do something" problem.

        1. gryphon

          Re: The affair is far from "largely concluded"

          Current info from my SEAT dealer is that 1.2L and 2.0L will simply need a software fix which goes along with your surmise above.

          1.6L like mine will apparently need a software fix and a 'flow transformer' which is to improve the accuracy of the air mass sensor. Will take about an hour.

        2. I am not spartacus

          Re: The affair is far from "largely concluded"

          "I wouldn't, it's not difficult...

          "All they need to do for lower NOx is increase fuelling at low power output to cool the combustion, that is what Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) does. A simple engine remap will fix that, perhaps with a tiny (< 1%) fuel consumption penalty.

          Well, I think that you are underestimating things slightly. For the medium-sized VW diesel engines, I believe that there are two categories; the larger cars have the 'AdBlue' system for NOx control, and the smaller ones, Exhaust Gas Recirculation.

          As far as I am aware (and it may just be that I am not sufficiently aware) the AdBlue cars don't have the EGR hardware, so being a bit more generous with the EGR would not be an option here, but it doesn't have to be. They would use more of the urea liquid, and it would need more topping up (so, in between service intervals, for those who have been able to stretch it to scheduled VW visits, so far). This shouldn't affect fuel consumption or CO2 materially.

          For the cars that use an EGR system currently, EGR would have to be used a lot more. This would be such a significant change to the calibration that they would really want to repeat much of the qualification testing (eg, environmental extremes, behaviour with poor quality fuel...even electromagnetic compatibility) but they'll probably find excuses not to do everything while taking long enough to actually do it.

          This will affect CO2, potentially,, and fuel consumption (and, even if it didn't, there will be howls of pain from drivers who claim that it does, even if they have only been taking any serious notice of consumption since the scandal broke). I'd estimate the potential fuel consumption impact at a bit more than your 1%, but still not gross.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: The affair is far from "largely concluded"

            For the cars that use an EGR system currently, EGR would have to be used a lot more.

            Not necessarily. The problem, as I said, is lean burn causing high temperatures. There are two ways to make the mixture richer so that it burns cooler:

            - add more fuel (which increases consumption and CO2), or

            - use EGR to replace air with exhaust gas to reduce the percentage of oxygen.

            Both change the fuel:air ratio (playing with variable valve timing is also an option, but that's an engine-design issue, not a bolt-on).

            It's a complex system, with lots of tradeoffs, the trick is hitting the sweet spot without going outside the limits. AdBlue is something of a last resort, when you give up on reducing the NOx levels at combustion and just cleanup afterwards.

            1. GW7
              WTF?

              Re: The affair is far from "largely concluded"

              "add more fuel (which increases consumption and CO2)"

              While that may be possible on a petrol engine that has a throttle in the air intake, a modern diesel engine has no throttle (if we exclude swirl flaps), so injecting more fuel without EGR simply make it deliver more torque and go faster.

              EGR reduces efficiency and causes lots of particulates to be generated by a diesel engine. This sooty crud is absorbed by a very expensive filter, the DPF, which has to be periodically regenerated by blowing unburnt diesel down a hot exhaust. This process consumes a fair amount of fuel. Increasing EGR to reduce NOx will therefore clog up the DPF and the EGR system more frequently, increasing consumption, CO2 and repair bills. I don't want that happening to my car.

              Nor do I want to be coughing up nitric acid every time I drive on a busy road because some clever bastards thought they could get away with flogging millions of NOx belching cars that breach the "Euro 5" regulation by a huge factor (see BBC Panorama for proof).

              VW's fix seems to be trying to appear contrite and telling everyone a little bit of software will make it all OK, have some useless vouchers etc. while their lawyers are attempting to claim they haven't actually broken the law. If the latter is true, why the "service action" then? Very Weaselly bastards!

  14. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Author conflating 'NOx scandal' with 'CO2 issue'

    "...tried to put the scandal behind them. An accompanying press release was headlined 'CO2 issue largely concluded.' "

    The author of this has obviously conflated 'the scandal', which is almost entirely about NOx, with a minor subsidiary 'CO2 issue', which is obviously about CO2.

    NOx .NE. CO2.

    Those at VW trying to communicate their point must be head-thumping-on-desk-ly frustrated with such confused reporting.

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Author conflating 'NOx scandal' with 'CO2 issue'

      "Those at VW trying to communicate their point must be head-thumping-on-desk-ly frustrated with such confused reporting."

      I suspect those at VW trying to communicate their point must be annoyed with management over why they have two separate crises to deal with simultaneously. And do we think this is it for VW? Any more crises with reported numbers? I wouldn't bet on this being the end.

  15. Swiss Anton

    VW don't understand software

    About a year ago I bought a golf, a 2.0L diesel. Its a lovely car apart from its woeful software, and I'm not just referring to the engine management system.

    I could list its many many shortcoming. Suffice to say that there are bugs, poor design, and some things that are just plain wrong. It is clear to me that those responsible for managing the software development process were clueless. Even without the emission scandal my next car would not be from the VW family.

    With ever increasing levels of software in cars, isn't it about time NCAP (and other similar organisations around the world) added in tests for the safety and usability of automotive software?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: VW don't understand software

      "isn't it about time NCAP (and other similar organisations around the world) added in tests for the safety and usability of automotive software?"

      Isn't it time the long-standing "product liability" laws in many parts of the world (including USA and EU) were actually enforced in a meaningful way?

      Sometimes software/design defects are just an irritant. E.g. yesterday I spent an afternoon helping a neighbour try to get his Vauxhall/Onstar in-car WiFi working. He'd spent hours trying, the OnStar help did their best but didn't help, etc. Eventually it turns out that the necessary configuration changes can only be made successfully with the car stationary (fair enough) and ignition on (ok, but if you're going to ignore the changes because the ignition's off, effing say so), a detail which is neither mentioned in the already out of date manual which shipped with the car, nor mentioned by the Onstar support team. Poor attention to detail, but not disastrous.

      Sometimes software/design defects are more significant, maybe even disastrous.

      Many countries have had "product liability" laws for many years. If the defect is significant, the product liability laws can be invoked. Why isn't the VW hiccup such a case?

      The $1bn+ penalty in the Toyota uncommanded acceleration case in the USA was for mismanagement of the recall, not a "product liability" penalty for getting it wrong in the first instance.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_liability

      http://betterembsw.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/a-case-study-of-toyota-unintended.html (not mine, belongs to Prof Koopman at CMU who was an expert witness in the court case of Toyota vs Bookout - worth a read).

  16. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Volkswagen has released the initial findings?

    "Volkswagen has released the initial findings of an ongoing internal review"

    Since when do the crooks get to investigate themselves?

  17. Johan Bastiaansen

    edged out of the company

    "The executives that pushed for SCR were edged out of the company, and those in favor of NOX traps won out."

    Turning a technical problem into a political game, sure sign of a toxic company culture.

  18. DougS Silver badge

    My garage needs painting

    I should call these guys, they seem to be experts in whitewashing.

    1. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: My garage needs painting

      That'll be your VW emissions that caused your garage needing whitewashed.

      Still, good greenwashing from Paris today. We are only going to screw the climate 3/4s of the amount we were intent on.

      1. Six_Degrees

        Re: My garage needs painting

        I'm not sure what you're on about. There has been no attempt to hide the terms of the agreement reached today, the shortfall of target from what was originally hoped for was openly noted, and because of it the attendees agreed to meet once again in 3 years for another assessment.

        Meanwhile, they got most of what even the most extreme demands were calling for.

        You seem to forget that politics is the art of the possible. Demanding what those who must give approval will never agree to is completely pointless. You get what you can, and if need be you try to do better next time.

        Also, I'll note that berating people after they've worked very hard to reach some sort of workable compromise doesn't create much of an atmosphere for continuing to pursue such talks, since apparently nothing that is done will work to your liking. Given enough such sentiment, those in a position to effect change could be excused if they didn't even bother to try.

  19. Sub 20 Pilot

    So, another week , another bunch of excuses from VAG or whatever they are called this week. Why are top people from this organization not jailed ? Is it for the same reason that the bankers who committed fraud etc got away with it ? Minor financial penalties to the company which ends up being foisted onto the customer and in job losses at the bottom end of the sca;e while the arses in charge blunder on.

  20. Six_Degrees

    Chain of Errors

    Well, obviously there were errors. Like getting caught.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Chain of Errors

      Drat you got there before me;

      Chain of errors = We didn't disguise it well enough, so they noticed it and traced it back to us.

  21. mildy bemused

    Simple requirements problem

    Every engineer will see that this is the fault of the marketing departments. Their requirements were expressed as:

    1. Give the car good performance out on the highway

    2. Make sure the car passes the emissions test

    But they didn't say "at the same time".

    1. david 12 Bronze badge

      Re: Simple requirements problem

      "Every engineer will see that this is the fault of the marketing departments. "

      An attractive idea, but I think that in this case, the engineers probably saw this as a failure of the standards and licencing people.

      I mean yes, everyone knows that marketing and management are stupid, but if you work with standards, you often find that you disagree with the standard, and (we can't help it), most of us tend to believe that anyone who disagrees with us is at least a little bit stupid, and that people who force their opinions on us are at least a little bit arrogant.

      I've read credible suggestions that VW engineering, like VW management, sales, and marketing, believes that diesels are best, and that their diesels are best, and that people who disagree with them are wrong.

      I think that engineering chose this path, and I think they knew what they were doing, and I think that they know that they knew what they were doing, which must be making them feel a little defensive at present.

    2. naive

      Re: Simple requirements problem

      It seems VW overplayed their hands, looking back, there were several serious issues since the mid 2000's:

      - TSI engines dying from black sludge due to oil change intervals which were far too long.

      - TSI engines with camshaft chain issues, i.e. someone allowed a chain to be used which was not up to the job.

      - Severe technical issues with DSG gearboxes.

      Maybe there is a pattern, VW knowingly sowed the seeds for disaster for car owners after 3-4 years, otherwise failing camshaft chains can not be explained.

      Allowing potential technical issues, is the result of a culture were technical shortcuts are acceptable in order to achieve certain other objectives like cost or making the car look good on paper.

  22. rtb61

    Only Corporate Lawyers.

    So the new legal defence for conspiracy to commit an actual crime, not a conspiracy at all, just a random chain of errors. I assume the chain of errors they were talking about are 'errors of judgement', in corporate lawyer legalise and double speak.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Only Corporate Lawyers.

      VW is a cornerstone of the German economy. You're not considering the input of politicians.

  23. Winkypop Silver badge
    Devil

    'chain of errors'

    AKA: Modern-day management skills

  24. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    Speaking as someone who breathes air "a pox on VW"...

    ... check the downvotes for VW diesel driver numbers....

  25. Lostintranslation

    Good luck with that alibi in an American court.

  26. Hillman_Hunter

    Obvious whitewash, round up the usual suspects

    Could not have happened without a culture that allowed and even encouraged it, a few rouge individuals is nonsense, I was prepared to forgive VW if they dug this one out, but they have gone old school closed ranks, sacked some techies and department heads, a good whislebower policy, professional honesty, would have saved them Billions, come clean put that in place and they would be forgiven (by me anyway as if it matters) but its business as usual, People are sick of this sort of corporate culture, Its the last thing from VW i will buy

  27. The Average Joe

    My dog ate my homework...

    They lied and knew all along what was going on and who was doing it.

    I would want my VW Diesel car to keep the same mileage and power. I would not want any sacrifices.

    You know all the rage is for heavy duty trucks is for the mechanics to turn off the DEF and SCR as they reduce power and increase costs per mile... Same thing and same game just a different person doing it.

  28. Kernel

    We reserve the right

    to change the specifications at any time without notification.

    There - job done.

  29. Cozzie

    How many cards?

    "only 36,000 cards would need to be recalled" - that made me chuckle.

    But in all seriousness, do VW really think that we are a stupid enough to believe this blatant lie.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Buy American!

    How in the seven hells did VW come out more toxic than an American car?!?

    Those things belt out pollutants by the litre gallon!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Buy American!

      In this case I would agree with your statement to buy American. American Diesels are far cleaner than their European counterparts, due to the stricter emissions controls on US diesels. This is why you don’t see a lot of small diesel cars here in the US. The manufactures do not want to spend the money to make them emission compliant and they would have to compete with their petro powered counterparts for price. It’s much cheaper to make a gas powered engine because the comments don’t have to be as durable and it is cheaper to make them emission compliant. This is why most diesels are found in ¾ ton and larger 4x4 trucks that need the torque that a diesel provides.

      Early US diesels where horrible and underpowered, but then everything built in the late 70’s-to mid-80’s was junk and it turned everyone in the US away from diesel and US and European cars altogether. You can thank GM and Ford for most of that. It was not until Chrysler put a Cummins 5.9 liter 6BT in their ¾ and 1 ton 4x4 that we finally got a good reliable diesel. However it was only available in a giant truck.

      European manufactures are just as guilty of low quality diesels in the 70-80s as well. VW’s in particular had overheating and head gasket problems with their diesels, the Mercedes Benz diesels were more reliable, but suffered the poor quality that all manufactures did in that time period. The Japanese were the first to figure this out and started turning out better quality cars which is why they are the driving force in the US auto industry today. But even the Japanese manufactures don’t offer a diesel in the states do to our tougher emissions controls on diesel engines. Personally I would love to have a diesel powered mid-size sedan, but market forces being what they are, I will not be holding my breath for one.

      1. Probie

        Re: Buy American!

        I tried to find a non-diesel car in the class that I have in the UK. A "sensible" petrol engined 4x4. No hope, so if I have to have a diesel then It will be American.

        Sorry but VW have really screwed the German Image. They have then systematically compounded error after error with the PR handling. I had the local Audi dealer "after incentives and reductions and good will" (although never hearing about this!!!) still quote me a deposit that was more than the cost of a Ford Kuga in total. Its left a very sour taste. Christ when a Fiat Panda looks a good as a voluntary option you know something has gone drastically sideways.

        I really hope that the USA boot them out of the USA car market.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hold those responsible accountable

    That doesn't mean however that they should be crucified for a trivial excess exhaust emissions, which is exactly what we're talking about here. The test detect software was stupid and unacceptable and those who created it should be punished along with any management that may have intimidated the engineers and programmers responsible for the duff software.

    In the U.S. the EPA is attempting to crucify VW over what amounts to a tempest in a tea cup. The minute excess exhaust emissions didn't hurt anyone yet the EPA has made all sorts of meritless claims and threats of up to $18 billion in fines. Not to be out done, the bottom feeders of the U.S. have filed over 400 lawsuits against VW. These gold diggers are hoping to extort billions more from VW even though most of these lawsuits are without any merit what so ever.

    All of the affected VW Diesel engines can become fully compliant with an ECU software update and in some cases an $11 part may also be required. Two independent investigations have shown no involvement by executive management in the illegal software and trivial emissions violation yet we have every lowlife in the U.S. looking to cash in at VW's expense. Don't for a minute think that the damage is limited to VW or the U.S. because it is not. Employees at VW, Audi, Porsche and all of their suppliers around the globe are being impacted by VW's halt in sales of specific Diesel powered vehicles and a loss in general sales as a result of the tempest in a tea cup that the EPA and CARB are using to fill their coffers will free cash. As a result thousands of VW and related employees have lost their jobs or been laid off indefinitely. Car dealers, investors and employees who had absolutely nothing to do with the bogus software and trivial excess exhaust emissions are suffering due to the over reaction of the EPA and the despicable actions of gold diggers.

    Fine VW proportionate to the crime, which is trivial at best. Make them update the software. Dismiss the bogus lawsuits and get on with life because this scandal is hurting both the EU and US economies when it should not even be a headline story it's so insignificant.

  32. Pompous Git Silver badge

    A fresh look at those lung cancer stats

    Over the last 40 years or so, there has been a very successful anti-smoking campaign in Australia.

    From 1991 to 2013 percentage of the population that smokes declined from 24.3% to 12.8%. [Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare].

    The last two decades have also seen most public places become smoke-free: pubs, clubs, restaurants, cafes, sporting venues, workplaces, concert venues etc. Thus the opportunity for non-smokers to inhale "second-hand smoke" has almost disappeared.

    At the same time, the tar content of cigarettes has also declined. In 1969 53% of cigarettes sold were in the 19-24 mg range. The most popular brand, Viscount, were 40 mg. By 1991, 85% were in the 1-12 mg range and no Australian manufactured cigarettes exceeded 18 mg. [Source: Commonwealth Department of Health].

    Further downward pressure on the mortality statistics for lung cancer comes from improved oncology. “Overall, 5-year relative survival has improved markedly from 41% for males diagnosed in 1982-1986 to 58% for those diagnosed in 1998-2004. [Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare].

    "mortality rates have fallen by around 13% in men and 6% in women over the last decade". [Source: Government Department of Health and Ageing]

    So what effect has this marked reduction in exposure to tobacco tar had on mortality from lung cancer?

    1969 32 deaths per 100,000

    2011 32 deaths per 100,000

    [Source Australian Institute of Health and Welfare]

    Downvote away...

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    meh

    tl;dr: dilligaf

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