Currently reading: VW: using cheat software may not be illegal in European tests
Firm admits it is "theoretically" possible it cheated Euro tests - but claims it may not breach regulations if it did
Jim Holder
News
3 mins read
9 October 2015

The Volkswagen Group has admitted its cars could "theoretically" have used its manipulation software during European emissions tests - but is trying to establish whether doing so would be illegal.

Asked by Autocar if VW had established whether the manipulation software was employed during European emissions testing, a spokesman said he could only confirm that "the software used in some diesel vehicles can theoretically detect a dynometer set-up and influence the emission strategy."

He added: "So far as we know today only vehicles with diesel engines by code EA189 are affected."

The spokesman also raised the possibility that, even if VW Group cars are found to have employed the software manipulation system in European tests, it may not breach regulations. "It is not certain whether this function can be catagorised as a defeat device under European standards," he said.

Blog: when is manipulation software not a defeat device?

Although the regulations clearly state "the use of defeat devices that reduce the effectiveness of emission control systems shall be prohibited", the spokesman's comments suggest VW is investigating not only whether the software activated, but also whether, if it did, it constitues a defeat device under the definitions of the European tests.

Under European regulations, a defeat device is described as "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."

To date, the VW Group has only confirmed that the software was used during emissions tests in the USA (a process called FTP75), where cars must achieve lower levels of NOx emissions than in Europe, and that around 11 million vehicles worldwide are fitted with the cheat software, including almost 1.2m in the UK.

Blog: Could Volkswagen be doing a better job of managing the crisis?

VW claims that the delay in establishing whether it also cheated European tests is a result of the scale and complexity of the EA189 engine production cycle. The single EA189 code incorporates three different cubic capacities and multiple power outputs - and the powerplant has also been paired with three different manual gearboxes and three specs of DSG dual-clutch transmissions. It was also fitted across four brands - VW, Audi, Seat and Skoda - and most cars were modified every model year. 

The spokesman added: "Only EA189 engines show a significant difference between cycle test results and on-road results. Whether and how this software really interacts is part of internal and external investigations. We are working at full speed  to implement technical measures to eliminate these deviations. That’s why these questions are based on speculation."

A VW spokesman has previously declined to speculate on how much effect the 'defeat device' could have had on NEDC results. In 2009 Europe’s NOx regulations were not as strict as those imposed in the USA, when legal limits were set at 70 milligrams/km, a drop of 90% compared to the limits that had previously been in place. That has led to suggestions affected cars would not have needed to activate the cheat software during European testing because it would not have been required to pass the tests. In 2009 the EU5 emissions limit for NOx was 180mg/km.

 

Read more on the Volkswagen emissions scandal:

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Will86 9 October 2015

'We cheated but its OK'

So what VW are saying is they cheated, but that might actually be allowed under the regulations. Aside from the obvious flaw in the law if this is indeed the case, this attitude from VW will simply do further harm to their reputation. If this is the view they take of the law, what other corners have been cut?
TurtleGerald 8 October 2015

It's called fraud.

Whether VW passed EU testing with or without the help of the software cheat isn't the point. For them to stand there and say "this wasn't technically illegal so aren't we good?" is disgusting. These cars are putting out more poisonous fumes and particulates than the manufacturers claim. This kind of dishonesty should result in criminal liability. VW should be heavily fined, those responsible should face criminal charges, and the EU should disband VAG to break its stranglehold on the market.
giulivo 9 October 2015

TurtleGerald wrote: These

TurtleGerald wrote:

These cars are putting out more poisonous fumes and particulates than the manufacturers claim.

No. The particulates are not affected (all EU5 cars are fitted with particulate filters) and NOx are not poisonous fumes in any way.
VW are liars and cheaters and should face the music. However the fact that everyone seems to ignore, is that NOx are NOT poisonous (unlike CO, particulates and hydrocarbons) and are NOT responsible for climate change and the eventual demise of the entire planet, unlike CO2.
It seems to me that the whole anti-NOx crusade is just a way to drive diesels off the road. I am still convinced that a modern and well maintained EU5 or EU6 Diesel, while not as environmentally friendly as biodiesel, methanol, CNG and LPG, is still way more efficient than a petrol engine. Instead on this forum (and in the US, in the press, etc) we keep reading that CO2 is a hoax and not a real problem. So a big gas-guzzling V8 from Detroit is better for the environment than a VW 2.0 diesel? On the basis that it emits less (harmless) NOx, which are less than 0.1% of the CO2 output anyway? Just because Detroit and the oil companies say so? Oh come on.

pauld101 9 October 2015

I know, Guilivo, it's not so bad....

You absolutely right, Guilivo, they're not poisonous, but they are they're noxious. And they form a delicate and fragrant cocktail of nitrous acid and nitric acid in your lungs. So, comes down to a choice of an agonising death coughing up blood clots, or perhaps a nice pulmonary edema, if you want? If only everything in life was as deadly as a Volkswagen.
the instigator 8 October 2015

thoughts on how to defeat the defeat device !

On the basis VW do come up with some kind of fix for my diesel car and I get a recall notice, do I have to comply and under what piece of legislation will this be relevant? Furthermore is it enforceable and could it inform a MOT fail in the future? Will it ome up at trade in time and how will this affect the "value" of my car ?

It is after all my car; and I might choose not to let it anywhere near a VW dealer... ever... my friendly non-corporate local village garage man can fix everything else it seems...

Alternatively if I do let VW have it, and it is proven (my proof btw) that it then delivers less miles per gallon, will VW compensate me for life for the extra fuel cost, or reverse their service fix on my request as I do not like, or appreciate what they have done to MY CAR ?

If the performance is notably worse than in their original sales brochure, at what point could I reject the car for a full refund as it is not of the described merchandiseable quality/performance? Will they try the old tested "wear and tear" routine and end up in the small claims court with me ?

Will they provide me with an equivalent courtesy car while they do this work and pay me for the lost time I incur during a working day and cost of going 36 miles to a VW dealer? ... note some corporate lawyers and business consultants charge their time out at over £ 250/hour... not really that much more than a VW service department... could I do the same here ?

VW... you could have done better... and you should have !

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