By on September 22, 2015

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI (1 of 8)

In all reality, Volkswagen probably won’t pay $37,500 for each car that cheated its way through U.S. emissions standards, but the German automaker will probably pay thousands for each car to fit a device that would clean up their acts.

The presumed fix would come by retrofitting a Selective Catalytic Reduction (Adblue or urea) system although that wouldn’t be the only fix necessary. Researchers discovered that the Passat TDI that they tested, fitted with the SCR system, was 5 to 20 times over the NO limit — less than the 10 to 40 times by the lean NO filter cars, but still illegal.

The long list of items needed to fit models of the Volkswagen Golf, Jetta, Beetle and Audi A3 doesn’t include the engineering needed to retrofit the cars and the costs to crash test the models after the significant modifications. That’ll add hundreds of millions to the bottom line.

Our own Bozi Tatarevic provided his preliminary list of additions (retail prices) that would be needed for each car based on the systems included in the Passat TDI — which still didn’t pass:

• Cooler ($361)
• Aftertreatment Fuel Tank ($534)
• Dosing Valve ($240)
• DPFE ($105)
• Temperature Sensor ($171)
• EGR ($401)
• Catalyst ($688)
Total = $2,500

Bozi points out that the urea tank most likely couldn’t be installed into the rear trunks due to the corrosive nature of the fluid. The secondary tanks would likely need to be installed under the car, next to a smaller, also-replaced, fuel tank. That would be an additional cost to Volkswagen (hundreds of dollars for each car) and further necessitate all new safety ratings.

The parts costs don’t take into account the hours of labor, which for a Jetta is 6-7 hours to change the diesel particulate filter alone. Such a substantial retrofit on their cars could take dozens of hours, incurring thousands in labor costs that Volkswagen would have to reimburse its dealers for. Labor rates, typically ~$100/hour, would likely be less for Volkswagen and the automaker would only reimburse dealers for the completion time detailed in the recall order.

Any sort of recall repair work and would need to be weighed against the cost for VW to buy back its own cars, which for a 2009 Jetta TDI, starts at about $7,000.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

137 Comments on “Here’s What It Might Cost To Fix Each 2.0 TDI Volkswagen...”


  • avatar
    Volt 230

    What VW has done is to set back Diesel sales in the US to previous levels, which will affect other OEM’s that have not cheated on the EPA tests

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Yay! I’m not a bot! I can add numbers!

      No I think VW has killed it completely. I wouldn’t doubt most owners would just take a buyback if it’s offered. VW’s best bet is to ship those cars to a country where they can be sold legally… if such a country exists.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      It’s very possible that diesel is going to have it’s Rotary moment.

      That is to say: it’s running up against fundamental restrictions of it’s design vis a vis emissions, economy and the associated complexity to deal with both, and what advantages it has have been taken by others (torque and economy, by hybrids and DI gas turbos) It may live on in places where these constraints don’t matter or are outweighed by the benefits it offers (again, like the rotary) but it’s time in the limelight is through.

      And that’s okay.

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    VW.com has a 404 page now: http://www.vw.com/features/clean-diesel/

    Their web site still lets you build a TDI, heh.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    You also need to include a goodwill payment that VW will issue to, what they probably consider to be, their most loyal US customers. The lost in value of these vehicles, the hassle the owners will go through, and the litigation they may seek should prompt some sort of monetary compensation. I got money from Ford due to the C-Max mileage fiasco.

    • 0 avatar
      rufusprime99

      I like the suggestion of a Mulligan for the sold vehicles. Just sell no more. Money in fines to the EPA, and money to the owners for lost resale value. Add a 5 year free maintenance to ensure the emissions don’t get worse.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    If the “fix” results in less power or MPGs and word gets out, I wonder how large a percentage of TDI owners will just skip or decline it?

    • 0 avatar
      Domestic Hearse

      Since the secret is out, many VW TDi owners will not get to “skip or decline it”. In states where emissions are tested, and the truth is now known about these VW vehicles, I would imagine that owners of these vehicles will be required to have the “fix” or their car will not pass emission testing, and therefore be ineligible for license plate/registration renewal.

      • 0 avatar
        djsyndrome

        Washington state (which is rife with TDIs) does not test diesels for emissions. Owners here will need to have another way to force them into compliance – perhaps non-renewal of registration until proof of remedy is on file with the state?

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          Western Washington tests for emissions, where a majority of residents live.

          http://www.dol.wa.gov/vehicleregistration/emissions.html

          • 0 avatar
            Mazda323

            That site links to a “Which Vehicles Need to be Tested” page, which says “The following vehicles never need emission tests: … All diesel vehicles model year 2007 and newer, regardless of weight.”

            http://www.emissiontestwa.com/e/faq.aspx#3

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            As Mazda323 noted the newer diesels are exempt from emissions testing again in WA and all diesels under 6Klbs. The other great exemptions are all Prius and Insight.

            Testing in WA is slowly being phased out as all 2009 and newer models are exempt and there is a rolling 25 year exemption too. So every year another model year of vehicles no longer need to be tested.

            The question is when do they just give up? Testing is only every other year so once you get to the point where say only 4 or 5 model years need to be tested will there be enough reason to keep the stations open. The lines have definitely been getting shorter over the years. The last few times they have not had all the lanes open and there were no lines while 5-6 years ago all lanes were often open and there were lines sometimes of several cars.

            Eventually even with increasing the contractor’s split to 100% there won’t be enough potential revenue to make it worth bidding on the contract.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

            Not all of western Washington tests for emissions on any vehicle. Where I lived in Snohomish county, there were no emissions testing.

          • 0 avatar
            jthorner

            Diesels are so dirty that the manufacturers have long managed to negotiate exemptions from routine emissions testing!

        • 0 avatar
          dtremit

          The unfixed cars were never actually legal for sale, so I would suspect denying registration would be trivial.

      • 0 avatar
        sirwired

        Most states “test” emissions these days by simply plugging in an OBD scanner and checking for codes. (Although most of those also look under the hood to make sure there haven’t been any obvious alterations to the emissions system.) Very few states run tailpipe tests, and naturally those that do have their tailpipe tests defeated by this software cheat.

        I’m not sure how any state is going to know if the recall repair has been done or not, at least not without passing legislation allowing them to ask VW if the repair has been done. (I don’t think there are any states that require recall repairs to pass safety inspection, so I don’t see repairs being required to pass emissions inspection either.)

        I expect CARB has the appropriate authority already, but few (if any) other states will be able to do this without changes to the law.

        • 0 avatar
          Domestic Hearse

          Exactly right. As I said below, IL has done away with the tailpipe monitors in favor of OBD plug-in tests.

          However, since testing states now know the the “testing mode” is liar, liar pants on fire, it would not be unreasonable to expect the TDi owner will be required in testing states to offer proof of the fix at the time of emission test. Or perhaps the OBD testing computers can simply be reprogrammed to “test around” the VW cheat readout.

          • 0 avatar
            sirwired

            It would indeed not be unreasonable for states to require proof of repair, but it will likely require changes to the law to allow this.

      • 0 avatar
        psychoboy

        Something similar is happening in California with 04-06 sprinter vans.

        The carb test now wants closed EGR monitors on those years, but the van is not designed to close the EGR monitor. MB won’t reflash the computer (probably because the EGR system has failed on almost all of these vans by now), so owners are stuck between failing the test and being unable to solve the problem.

        So, an aftermarket solution exists…an ‘illegal’ tune that does little more than turn off the EGR system and closes the monitor.

        The vans pass the tests, and nobody is forced to scrap their otherwise fine vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      One worst-case scenario is that the EPA revokes the Certificate of Compliance for all 2009-present 4-cylinder TDIs. This would make them contraband illegally distributed in the US and therefore subject to seizure and destruction, just like the Land Rovers and Skylines imported with falsified paperwork. As a practical matter, that is fairly unlikely but it is one possible course of action.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Unless fedgov is going to be handing out cash for their stolen property, I don’t see that going over well. The LR thing, as stupid as it was, involved illegal importation from the get go. These were legally imported, paid for years ago and I think there are something like a few hundred thousand. Jack booted thugs, who could find time in their busy schedule of not protecting the borders, only confiscated 30 or 40 LRs. Love to see them try 100,000 cars.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          Turns out that, no, they weren’t legally imported after all.

          Yes, DHS doesn’t have the time or resources to reclaim 100,000 cars. However, they would have the time to track down 10 or 50 people who withhold their cars from whatever remedy VW concocts, and brag about it publicly.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        This may be the best thing to ever happen to Skyline enthusiasts.

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    I do not think they should be forced to change out.

    Simply accept the fact these cars are out and about…doing their thing.
    Fine VW and VW just accept the penance, whatever it is and how high it is. Then go about fixing any car not yet sold or built.

    Asking for a company to commit suicide for the sake of a small amount of pollution is equally as damaging…more so.

    Only the environmentally insane would take this course. But this might just be the world today.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      The government is never going to just take a fine and let the cars continue to emit illegal levels of emissions. They are going to make VW fix this problem one way or another.

      VW is a huge company, and the fines/expenses of this will be spread over many quarters, so they will just work it off like BP did in the gulf oil spill.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “They are going to make VW fix this problem one way or another.”

        This problem probably can’t be completely fixed. The feds usually negotiate, and something like this will surely be negotiated.

        • 0 avatar
          moorewr

          I’m assuming that the cars without urea tanks can never pass the test. The questions are, 1) how close can VW get and will the EPA accept that?, and 2) how badly do the “adBlue” cars fail? Can they even be made to pass and still be drive-able?

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            They certainly can. They did for their EPA testing, when they detected the test cycle.

            The real question is what negative implications this “test cycle mode” has on other things. I expect we’ll find out soon.

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          Eventually the money will talk.
          Not the environment.

          They will have to pay the US government back for the tax deductions given out to buyers that purchased cars with government incentives (thanks, gov!)

          And they will pay the penalty for cheating, an amount to be determined.

          And they will pay for a give back to consumers…which I totally don’t get because now these consumers get to drive cars that are not in compliance, get better mileage and are not being put through the same environmental penalties resulting in their performances being reduced. Hell…people pay big money to get this done and these lucky knuckleheads got it done in factory WITHOUT breaking the warranty!!!!!

          Damn! Which I had gotten one! Is it to late????

        • 0 avatar
          jthorner

          Force 100% buybacks at original retail price.

          Why should VW be allowed to keep any of the revenue they derived from an out and out fraud?

          We don’t let thieves keep stolen property or illegal drug sellers keep their cash, and this is not that different.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        If they did allow VW to not get their vehicles into full compliance it wouldn’t be the first time. 70’s Rabbits had problematic emissions system components and the EPA authorized a “fix” that included defeating a number of the components. I remember the first time one came into the shop with lots of Temp Vac Switches that had no hoses on them. The boss informed me that it was OK like that because of the exemption that was issued. So yeah I can see them paying a fine and not bringing the vehicles into full compliance, or issuing a partial buy back.

      • 0 avatar
        jrmason

        “The government is never going to just take a fine and let the cars continue to emit illegal levels of emissions.”

        They did exactly that with Navistar from 2010-2012. Navistar could not produce compliant engines so they padded the EPA’s pocket to the tune of $3800 per non compliant engine manufactured. The bribe probably would have lasted indefinitely had the other manufacturers not cried foul and taken the matter to Federal Court and had the EPA’s decision overuled.

        • 0 avatar
          APaGttH

          …They did exactly that with Navistar from 2010-2012. Navistar could not produce compliant engines so they padded the EPA’s pocket to the tune of $3800 per non compliant engine manufactured. The bribe probably would have lasted indefinitely had the other manufacturers not cried foul and taken the matter to Federal Court and had the EPA’s decision overuled…

          So didn’t you just support the point that the government won’t do it?

          The EPA tried to do it, it was taken to court, the decision was over ruled. Huh, I guess the system, as screwed up as it is, actually worked here.

          So given a court says you can’t give a legal bribe to make the problem go away, VW won’t be able to write a fat check out of this problem.

          • 0 avatar
            jrmason

            “The EPA tried to do it, it was taken to court, the decision was over ruled. Huh, I guess the system, as screwed up as it is, actually worked here.”

            The point you clearly missed is there are 3 years worth of non compliant engines running the highways each and everyday.
            I’m not insinuating VW will nor should they get away with it, I’m just saying if they do they won’t be the first.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          It wasn’t just a matter of the fine for non-compliant engines that was in question it was the credits they earned pushing the 6.0 half baked out in Ford trucks and then claiming those credits for their own. That was what really go the other MD/HD mfgs panties in a bunch. Most of them didn’t have the LD volume to build up a massive credit bank. Cummins took advantage of the credit system but they were used on some Ram branded trucks and because they didn’t push out their 07 compliant engines as early as IH did with the Ford engines they had far fewer credits.

          • 0 avatar
            jrmason

            The credits you speak of came courtesy of the VT365 which was used in MD applications. Night and day difference between Navistar tuning and Ford tuning.
            The only credit the Ford sick.0 no earned was a class action lawsuit.

            As to the other manufacturers crying foul they had the right (as do VWs competitors). They spent hundreds of millions in R&D to meet the criteria while Navistar bought their way into the game.

      • 0 avatar
        Loki

        I’d expect a forced buyback of all affected vehicles, after which VW scraps the junkier cars and retrofits the better cars to resell as CPO.

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      Well, given that the fine maxes out at $18B, I’m pretty sure VW would prefer to fix the cars on the road and pay an amount less than that.

    • 0 avatar
      Domestic Hearse

      As I said above, in states which require emission testing on cars 20 years old and newer, VW TDi’s will not pass and license plate/registration renewal will be denied to the owners. VW will have no choice but to fix cars in emission testing states at the very least (and as such, probably every TDi, because if I own one and move to IL or CA for example, and haven’t had my VW fixed, I’m now in violation of my new state’s laws — in addition, if I go to sell my TDi later, I can only sell it in non-testing states if it’s not been fixed, which lowers my car’s resale value).

      It’s not about environmental insanity. It’s about the law, both at the federal and (in many cases) state level. CA is not going to give VW TDi owners a pass. VW has no choice but to fix or replace. If not, AGs all over the country will be adding state lawsuits in addition to the federal suit.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “CA is not going to give VW TDi owners a pass.”

        Why not? Laws can be amended and grandfathering is not unheard of.

        It is environmental insanity to force people to significantly alter their vehicles with some half-a$$ed dealer installed fix or potentially be placed into financial hardship when their only sin was buying a VW and believing the emission sticker on their cars were valid.

        Screw VW to the wall, but I’d like to see the owners left alone.

        • 0 avatar
          dwford

          It doesn’t work that way. The EPA and CARB are not going to just accept that there are 500,000 polluting vehicles on the road and not require a fix. And unfortunately owners are going to be affected negatively in some way. There is no compassion in environmental law enforcement.

          Look at BP. That was literally an accident, not an intentional event. They got fined, have all sorts of obligations for clean up, people lost jobs etc. There was no thought in the government that maybe they should go easy on BP so the regular people would be ok.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I agree with you, but BP is not an accurate comparison. BP poisoned the Gulf and killed an huge amount of sea life, the amount of NOx from 1% of all cars sold isn’t a blip on the radar. Climate scientists would have all been all over it if there had been a sudden rise in air pollution since 2010.

        • 0 avatar
          jkross22

          I can’t see CARB allowing TDI cars to be re-registered with this issue not resolved. Their priority isn’t consumer financial protection for TDI owners.

          They are environmental zealots. That’s their job, although if you asked them what levels of NOx are considered dangerous to public health, they probably wouldn’t know.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Again, I do agree. I would be shocked if either agency showed any compassion to owners but of the two EPA would probably come before CARB who just hates everybody it seems.

        • 0 avatar
          Domestic Hearse

          “It is environmental insanity to force people to alter their vehicles with some half-a$$ed dealer installed fix…”

          The federal (and potential state) suits/settlement won’t force “people” aka owners to fix their cars. It will force VW to fix the cars that were knowingly built with an EPA cheat built into the diagnostics.

          VW violated the law. Period. End of story. They gave themselves an unfair market advantage by breaking said law. They qualified for government green incentives for these law-breaking TDi’s.

          Yes, the fix may not be perfect. No, it’s not going to save the planet. This entire fiasco has less to do about environmentalism than it does about corporate malfeasance — knowingly, willingly breaking the law.

          VW is a multinational corporation. They should know better. But they took a huge gamble and got busted. They will pay a huge fine. They will have to offer some satisfactory fix of the affected cars now on the road. Period. End of story. Reframing it as “environmental insanity” is missing the point. This is about the law, about VW giving itself an unfair advantage over other OEMs following the law.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “The federal (and potential state) suits/settlement won’t force “people” aka owners to fix their cars.”

            How is telling a person that they can’t register a vehicle unless they drive it to a dealer to have it altered (which you admit likely won’t be perfect) not a case of forcing them to fix their cars?

            The owners are the biggest victim in all of this. They purchased a vehicle with a sticker that assured compliance with emission laws. Now they are going to be made to suffer further because of corporate fraud, the inability of regulators to be comprehensive in their testing, and the inflexibility of legislatures to the laws they created in the first place.

            Like I said earlier, stick it to VW but what is accomplished by punishing TDI buyers?

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            @ajla

            …The owners are the biggest victim in all of this…

            The government did not victimize the owners. VW did with a very deliberate business decision. This wasn’t an accident or incompetence. This wasn’t engineer Rudolph down in sub-basement 3F who decided on their own, “zee anzer to zis problem iz quiet zimple. Zee vil write das code to cheat das test, and zee car will pass. No one muzt eeeever know.”

            I’m sure they’ll be plausable dependability, but this was a decision made at a very high level.

            The American taxpayers are victims. VW competitors in the diesel space (Mazda comes right to the top of the list) are victims. The people who bought these cars because of their “green credentials” were utterly defrauded.

            It sucks – but the recourse simply won’t be keep these cars on the road. If FCA is having to offer buybacks on 15+ year old Cherokees with gas tanks that passed manufacturing standards of the era now – what free pass is VW and their owners going to get?

            Zilch.

            It’s called accountability and Americans seem to hate that concept for some bizarre reason.

            Deflated footballs – END OF THE FECKIN WORLD!

            Major corporation cheated 11 million customers globally selling them bogus technology on what is for most the second or third largest transactions of their life? Meh – who cares.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “…The owners are the biggest victim in all of this…”

            I agree with that!

            But doesn’t it serve them well for choosing badly?

            We have freedom of choice in America.

            No matter which brand a buyer chooses, they deserve anything and everything they get; good, bad or indifferent.

            Where is the buyer’s personal and individual responsibility in all of this?

            The buyers could have chosen to buy a GM product with a faulty ignition switch, instead of a VW.

            From that perspective, buying a VW was a blessing ’cause it didn’t kill them.

            Count your blessings VW people!

    • 0 avatar
      cwallace

      I will be surprised if VW doesn’t end up buying back the cars that are on the road now and crushing them, and taking the ones at the port back to wherever they came from.

      It’d be a better goodwill exercise for their current owners to buy the cars back at some crazy amount and put them into new VWs. Putting owners through the wringer of trying to make their cars meet standards won’t exactly result in a lot of follow-on sales.

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        There’s no reason to expect a complete buyback, or for the ones at port not making it to market. VW may *offer* a buyback (or a big trade-in incentive).

        The cars at the ports all now have urea tanks. They ought to be able to pass the emissions test. From the available evidence BMW and Chevrolet have passed the test legitimately.

      • 0 avatar
        brettc

        If they want to buy mine back, I probably wouldn’t argue. It’s a nice car and has been trouble free so far but I have been looking at the new TSI wagon. I might have one if they’d offer heated seats on the S trim.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        If the modification costs posted here are correct ($2.5K per vehicle), plus say a $1.8 billion fine (10% of the maximum) which comes out to $3.6K per impacted cars on US roads, a 2009 TDI is now crusher bait.

        Unless they can institute a valid low cost fix, that also extends warranty coverage on the models, compensates for diminished value, and covers the fines (as well as likely punitive criminal fines for Consumer Protection Act violations) the older models impacted are going to be cheaper to buy back and take off the road.

        The ironic thing is when it’s all said and done with the inevitable class action lawsuits, multiple firms will be disgustingly rich from this and impacted owners will get an up to $1000 off voucher on the VW/Audi of their choice.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Your solution makes good sense. However making “good sense” Is not usually a criteria , in these instances.

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    Also – for the cars that currently don’t use SCR, there would have to be an ECM update to handle the change in emissions software, and associated wiring harnesses for the newly installed system. Maybe even a new gauge cluster with a DEF level monitor / warning indicator. Lots of drilling holes to mount things that weren’t originally there, etc… the potential for a truly half-ass retrofit certainly exists.

    It’s probably safe to say that it will be cheaper to buy back the older cars, maybe even the newer ones too.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      This is the first comment that actually makes sense in terms of cost. I was told by an OEM (when I was a supplier) the costs just associated with tracking down each customer for a recall, distribution and warehousing of the parts, initiating capacity increase and sourcing in the supply base was in the thousands (per part). Execution of a recall is very expensive.

      You’re probably looking at ~$2k per part in supplier PPAP, coordination and distribution costs per part. Then you have the piece cost as well as dealer labor. This could very well exceed the EPA fine. A buy back for certain MY’s of vehicle would be cheaper.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Which entity is the one involved, VWoA or VW Group? If its the first, if the total assets of VWoA do not total 18 billion, could it just declare bankruptcy and liquidate itself to avoid further payment?

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      I doubt the final fine will be 18 billion. That’s just an “up to” number that the media’s tossing around. There will be months, possibly years, of negotiation before all sides (EPA, DOJ, CARB, other state regulators, Industry Canada, VAG, VWoA, etc) agree to a figure.

      That being said, VW could choose to pull out of the market, just like “Old GM/new GM”.

      They could also handle this honorably and decently, and get positive PR.

  • avatar
    northeaster

    And all this time I was imagining the Germans had evolved a more cost effective and subtle means of gassing millions… (end bad gallows humor)

  • avatar
    dwford

    The first question is why this cheat was necessary. Was the correct equipment to make these engines meet emissions just too costly, so VW decided to fudge it, or could they just not get these motors to pass the test at all? If they just couldn’t get them to pass, what could the fix be?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      My initial thought was cost, but it may have been cost and performance.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      More effective filters would have cost more money.

      My guess is that retrofitting equipment that would meet US requirements on existing cars is not an feasible option. A compromise will be needed.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Consumers are afraid of SCR systems because they don’t want to have to think about refilling DEF. It looked like a neat trick — “we figured out how to meet the new regs without any need for DEF.” SCR systems also add considerable cost.

      • 0 avatar
        jrmason

        SCR really is the best option on the market minus the initial cost. Engines use far less EGR which translates to cleaner intakes, turbos and crank case oil, OCI are consequently increased and fuel mileage is better compared to a similar engine that relies on heavy EGR and a DOC/DPF. Even in the passenger vehicle market, most people who are serious enough to look into buying a diesel engine study the different systems previously available and realize this.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      If we look at GM and Mazda, for a why, I’m guessing cost and performance.

      The premium on a Cruze diesel over the other models makes it a complete non-starter. Mazda has had tons of problems getting their diesel engine certified. So it appears that if you follow the rules you either pay far out the butt on the technology to pass, at the expense of performance, or you give up (Mazda) or you cheat.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    But the cars passed when in “testing mode”, so I don’t know why the fix would not be to simply make that the full-time mode of operation. It’ll cost power and MPG, but it’ll work. Why overhaul the entire emissions system when you can just cripple the car somewhat and cut the luckless owner a check?

    (Boy is VW Finance going to take a bath on any leased ones… the residual is going to be more than a bit less than forecast.)

    • 0 avatar
      Domestic Hearse

      If I understand correctly, when the tester plugs into the TDi’s OBD, the “testing” software kicked in, giving false readings.

      In the old days, here in IL, the testing facility actually put a monitor in the tailpipe which measured emissions. Now, they plug into the computer and believe the reading in good faith. (Which is why all older cars in testing counties in IL are now exempt from testing — no OBD, no test. The tailpipe monitors have been removed.)

      Testing mode is basically a big fat lie. The car is still producing illegal emissions during the test. Making testing mode “full time” does nothing to what’s coming out the tailpipe.

      • 0 avatar
        qfrog

        Testing mode is likely a lot intelligent than you suggest. It may be that the ECM watches for certain vehicle speeds and steering angles via the ESP and ABS modules which I think communicate to the ECM via the CAN bus. For example, if zero steering angle and zero rear wheel speed is detected while front wheel speeds are detected then the ECM uses a fuel injection correction table it doesn’t normally call upon. If the mfg knew the testing protocol then it would be fairly easy to have the ECM recognize the protocol and perform as desired. We aren’t dealing with an early 90’s ECM with a tiny bit of memory and processing capacity. There is a small but capable computer running the show. So the ECM has some software code running in the background to recognize the testing protocol conditions and if those conditions are met then the ECM changes how how it runs the engine to reduce emissions for passing grades on the exam.

        The test results can be sampled via the OBD port by monitoring the sensors the engine uses to run things or by sniffing the tailpipe, they’ll both be the same thing as the ECM probably isn’t programmed to output a false value so much that it has been programmed to refer to a target air/fuel ratio correction table much like it would during cold start. However the table or tables being utilized are reserved for emissions testing and are only called upon to reduce the emissions of the engine when the ECM identifies an emissions testing protocol being performed.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          Yup the steering angle is mentioned in one of the other articles on the net. Fact is that in the real world you aren’t going to drive for several miles w/o doing a least some steering. The FTP is run on a dyno and since the cars are FWD the steering wheel is kept in the straight ahead position for the entire test.

          • 0 avatar
            qfrog

            The problem is that the test protocol is too easy to identify. Even if it was mandated that the test be performed with the ESP & ABS modules disconnected the ECM will know because there is no communication and that alone would be enough to tell the ECM to refer to alternative injection/timing (not diesel I know) /boost/urea duty cycle etc etc etc tables.

            Accurately testing emissions is going to be a lot harder and this is only one example of it. Since the modules in the car are all networked the ECM could simply read the output of a nav unit which outputs location over the CAN bus for reasons unknown. So the NAV unit running a blackberry qnx based system could be aware of the general vicinity in which tests take place and output a 1 or 0 on the CAN bus which the ECM looks for. That 1 or 0 would tell the ECM which mode to operate in. Default might be compliance mode should the nav unit fail which will likely drive the customer to the dealer for a fix anyways.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        No it has nothing to do with having something plugged into the OBD II port and all about the vehicle recognizing it is on a dyno via the lack of steering angle changes and no input from the rear wheel speed sensors.

        When the vehicle detects that it is being operated on a dyno it implements the full emissions strategy and is not producing illegal emissions levels.

        The OBD II test just verifies that the vehicle has run its comprehensive component monitors that check if things like the EGR system and missfire detection is working.

    • 0 avatar
      ScarecrowRepair

      Thank you! I have been wondering this since the first notice. Exactly what is this “10-40 times the pollution” I keep reading — it smells fishy. If anything is off by that much, it is noticeable, and I haven’t seen any VWs smoking like church buses.

      If making the fix permanent instead of just when recognizing the EPA test cycle will solve the problem, isn’t that just a reflash or reprogramming? If mileage drops by 10%, provide fuel cards which rebate 10% each month. If it cuts power by 10%, oh well, is that really so significant? Add that in to the fuel card rebate too, to allow for mashing the accelerator down further to recoup the power.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        You can’t see nitrogen oxides, which are the pollutant involved here. “Smoking like church buses” means excess hydrocarbons, which aren’t the problem.

        • 0 avatar
          ScarecrowRepair

          If you want to be pedantic, yes. My point was that 10-40 times the pollution is a huge difference, and must come at some cost. Everything I’ve read says the testing mode ginned the controls into low-pollution mode, presumably at the expense of mileage and/or power and/or other running characteristics. What are the costs of running in low-pollution mode always?

      • 0 avatar
        bumpy ii

        The 10-40% refers to NOx emissions, not visible soot.

        One question is, even if the ECU is reflashed to run at legal emission levels full-time, will the physical emission control components last the duration of the federal emission warranty period?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I would presume that the 10-40 times figure is being (deliberately) taken out of context. The pollution limits are based upon averages over a test cycle, while the 10-40x figures are peak.

        The two shouldn’t be compared directly, but comparing apples to oranges makes for more interesting press releases.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          I believe you are correct. The limits are in grams per mile and the way the Federal Test Procedure works it they literally but a big ass bag on the tail pipe and collect the exhaust for the duration of the test cycle. The contents of the bag are then analyzed and those amounts are divided by the number of miles the test simulates. At no point does the FTP call for measuring the emissions on an instantaneous basis as is done with the equipment that was used by the org that caught the discrepancy.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Thank you for presenting this preliminary analysis.

    I can’t see VW doing all this work. They’d have to engineer the systems first, and assure they work retroactively. They don’t have enough technicians to perform all the labor, and there would be a severe parts shortage even if they had the time.

    I see a buyback, or a voucher, or a check being written to customers to get themselves out of this mess – sort of like Cash for Clunkers. But then every TDI will wear the scarlet “A” forevermore.

    Behold the the death of the US diesel market!

    PS: RAM has to be very, very upset about this news. Even assuming they didn’t cheat also, sales of their new Ecodiesel will suffer greatly. And Nissan was poised to offer a new diesel in the Titan truck; they’ll not be too happy.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Maybe. They could use the opportunity to advertise that *their* diesels meet emission standards at all times (if they are absolutely certain that is the case).

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        How about Chevy dealers start offering discounts on remaining Cruze diesels to anyone trading in a Jetta TDI… lol

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          I was just thinking: GM is probably glad that they never sold any Cruze Diesels.

          They may want to lay low until this thing blows over, quietly bury the 13,000 unsold Cruze Diesels in the New Mexico desert. Could be worth real money in 40 years, mid-century hipsters will drive them “ironically.”

        • 0 avatar
          jpolicke

          Back when I bought my Dodge, Sergio was in the midst of that spat with Piech over the Euro Carmaker Council; FCA was giving an extra $1000 to anyone who owned a VW. Trouble is, I don’t think anyone wants a TDI as a trade-in these days.

    • 0 avatar
      MQHokie

      “Death of the US diesel market” is quite a stretch. This will certainly be a big blow to the PASSENGER CAR diesel market, but pickup trucks are a different story. Provided no similar scandal breaks regarding FCA’s Ecodiesel or the Nissan’s new Cummins, there will be plenty of takers. The diesel is too well suited to the duty cycle of a working pickup, especially one that is asked to tow regularly, to just write it off.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The trucks seem to cater to an entire different world demographically so I think they will be fine.

      And diesel cars were never really alive to begin with in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      VCplayer

      Yeah, a buyback seems like the most cost-effective solution given all of the engineering this could involve. The cost/vehicle isn’t nearly the problem that having a team come up with new parts and having to tool them is.

      Of course, maybe those “German engineers” can come up with a cheap solution. I would be pretty impressed with that.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      I think we may very well be seeing the beginning of the end of diesels in the US small car market. As a pricy option in what was going to be an expensive truck or SUV already, they may be successful if enough buyers look at the sticker and think “I can get that many MPG in something this big!” US consumers are lousy at math when it comes to total cost of ownership, anyway. But unless something drastic happens like diesel selling for half the price of gasoline in this country, I think buyers will be skeptical about the technology for their small cars. Many people are beginning to hear about NOX-this and DPF filter-that for the first time. “Gee, all these systems, just a lot more things to break. I’ll just get one of those turbo gas motors, they get pretty good mileage.”

  • avatar
    Audiofyl

    I suppose Mazda avoided all this by delaying their diesel 6 appearance in the states.

    • 0 avatar
      Demetri

      This is the reason it was delayed. They couldn’t meet US emissions without completely hobbling the engine, so they looked into ways to solve it (urea). Apparently it was just too costly and troublesome and/or the performance/efficiency still sucked too much to make it work because I haven’t heard anything about bringing the diesel 6 to the states in over a year. With gasoline as cheap as it is, and the possibility of the new CX-9 engine ending up in the 6, there isn’t much market for it anyway except with diesel nuts.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    VW finished what GM started 30 years ago.

  • avatar
    qfrog

    I think the list of parts will be a lot longer. What solution VW/Audi develops has a lot to do with how long the parts listing is for the remediation.

    As VW/Audi does with many campaigns or recalls they discount the dealer cost of parts greatly which means the list price (what is likely to be paid by VW/Audi) is also much lower than typical warranty work. By scaling down the dealer cost and list price the materials payout is scaled down greatly. If the production volume for the parts is large enough then the actual cost per unit won’t be that high and as such the parts costs will be nothing like what you think they should be. The cost may be less still if VW/Audi simply parts bins some of the items in the solution like the urea injector. Half a million urea injectors you already have the tooling to make will carry the added benefit of bringing down your cost per unit for production and of course it will take a little while to get them made up. Remember Toyota having supply issues with their pedals? I do.

    The technicians and service department may also be taking a cold shower on this one as there is a good chance that their flat rate time unit payout won’t be all that sweet. So there may be a lot of goodguy time which is the tech doing work on your car on their time without pay. If VW/Audi pays 600 metric time units but the job averages 800 then VW/Audi just got themselves a 25% discount on the labor rate.

    I’m curious about the cars at port right now. Will those cars be released to dealerships as is for immediate pre-sale remediation? Or will those cars be remediated at the port and if so by who? Lets say the cars are remediated by the dealerships, will they be required to be inspected by the state for compliance?

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The cars in port never received a Certificate of Conformity, so they’re legally barred from entering the US. Any remediation program for them will take months if not a year or more to develop and implement. Those cars will be sent back home whenever VW gets tired of paying the port storage fees.

      • 0 avatar
        moorewr

        I suspect those cars will end up at dealers.. eventually. All the 2016s have urea tanks, so it should be possible to make them comply with the law (or at least get close). The questions are how much performance will suffer and what will happen to all the ones sold from 2009 on with no tanks.

      • 0 avatar
        qfrog

        I think they’re going to be shipped to another market where they are legal and can be sold as is. IF the cost of time based depreciation and remediation is > the cost of shipping and discounting for rapid sale then I think we should soon see those cars leaving port for their new home anywhere but the US.

      • 0 avatar
        jthorner

        I bet the cars at port will go to markets with minimal regulations and/or easily bribed government officials. There are many such marketplaces in the world!

    • 0 avatar
      Exfordtech

      I can guarantee the techs will take a bath on these. If I was a VW tech I’d be considering laying the groundwork for a class action.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “So there may be a lot of goodguy time which is the tech doing work on your car on their time without pay.”

      What technician would do this? I don’t think so.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Illogical argument by the author; the cheapest fix is to simply disable the disabler with a 10-minute reflash of the ECM that removes the sensing software and turns on the system it currently turns off.

    Of course, that may have some effect on diesel performance then.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      You are correct, they aren’t going to retrofit a SCR system, they will just reflash the PCM with a program that implements the full emission strategy all the time, not just when the vehicle determines it is operating on a dyno. The most they may do in the way of hardware might be to change some of the EGR plumbing to increase its flow capacity to the level required for the higher operating ranges that are not a part of the FTP.

      • 0 avatar
        jthorner

        If it were that easy, there would have been no reason to cheat in the first place.

        It is quite possible that performance, fuel economy and/or durability degrade massively when in cheat to pass the test mode.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “Illogical argument by the author; the cheapest fix is to simply disable the disabler with a 10-minute reflash of the ECM that removes the sensing software and turns on the system it currently turns off.”

      That may result in a powertrain that has substandard performance and/or reliability, and even then an ECU reflash might not help much as the original program was designed to allow the car to meet those targets during a very specific set of circumstances and for a short period of time.

      It may not be possible to “fix” this via software entirely, if at all.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        But this could be the cheapest way out. The cars get remediated – legally – for the absolute minimum amount of expense. Then VW just has to negotiate with the class action attorneys for some token amount of compensation to the owners for loss of performance and economy.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I agree the 09-13 will cause the most issues for VW, they have no extra tank and I do not think they have room for one to drop one in without major moving parts around. If VW did a buy back I am not sure the take rate would be as high as most people think, TDI drivers love their MPG’s and the driving distance per tank and you can not get in to many other cars. If VW gave a rebate to buy another VW , the choices are limited, but I assume if the deal was right it may work, more likely is a ref lash and loss of MPG and power. What may move VW to the buyout of the 09-13 may be the emission warranty, if they do the fix does the warranty start from that day? I think it is 8 years 150,000 miles and they would be placing extra stress of the other systems, they may just say screw it let the VW owners buy new VW with the rebate, after all they now have 2 plants in North America that they need to keep open. I just made my last payment on my 11 TDI wagon and was looking forward to a few years of no car payments, not sure what I would do if they offered to buy my car back.

  • avatar
    gasser

    They’ve screwed up on this bigtime. Even for new ’16s they need to correct the computer code (which is potentially easy) but then they have to retest the fix for working for tens of thousands of miles. This will take a lot of time during which the new cars sit on the docks. Also,even when fixed, is there a market for them?? Is there a lease rate calculable in light of a potentially very low resale value?? For the older models it may be cheaper to buy them back than to repair them with some system which VW needs to prove will last the 100,000 miles or whatever the EPA demands. I wonder if these cars could have an engine swap to a gas engine, or if this cost, ( plus wiring harness, transmission isssues, fuel tank scrubbing) would also be impractical.
    I am sure that today, any TDI up for trade in is totally worthless. If I were a dealer, I wouldn’t touch one because it might sit on the lot for months and be of totally speculative value at that.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Not very much data yet, but here are MY12 Jettas through 9/17. I don’t think there were any sales today so we might not have any comparable data until Wed.

    MY12 VW Jetta TDI

    08/25/15 STATESVL Regular $7,900 124,858 Avg GREY 4DT 6 Yes
    08/25/15 ORLANDO Regular $9,700 60,560 Avg RED 4DT A Yes
    08/26/15 PITTSBGH Regular $10,000 84,131 Avg BLACK 4DT Yes
    09/01/15 BALTWASH Regular $11,500 47,687 Avg BLACK 4DT A Yes
    09/02/15 TUCSON Regular $9,300 99,816 Avg GRAY 4DT A Yes
    09/02/15 PITTSBGH Regular $6,100 148,414 Below BLACK 4DT A Yes
    09/03/15 TX HOBBY Regular $9,500 87,732 Avg BLACK 4DT A Yes
    09/03/15 ST PETE Regular $9,800 80,297 Avg BLUE 4DT A Yes
    09/03/15 MISS Regular $11,400 79,010 Avg RED 4DT A Yes
    09/09/15 KC Regular $14,600 53,192 Above BLUE 4DT A No
    09/14/15 CEN FLA Lease $13,600 28,376 Above CANDY WH 4DT A Yes
    09/14/15 CEN FLA Lease $6,900 100,520 Below BLACK EX 4DT A Yes
    09/16/15 ATLANTA Lease $13,800 39,322 Above BLACK EX 4DT 6 Yes
    09/17/15 TX HOBBY Regular $6,000 108,036 Below GRAY 4DT A No

  • avatar
    George B

    How much difference is there between the EPA requirement for roughly 40 states vs. the tougher CARB requirement for states following California’s standard? I could see some combination of retrofit and buyback with the buyback in the CARB states and a retrofit to EPA requirements and/or export to some other country.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    I do not for an instant believe that VW will need to retrofit an SCR system.

    The vehicles are capable of meeting emissions standards they just only implement the full emissions control strategy when it detects that is is operated in a manner consistent with the Federal Test Procedure.

    The fact is that the just don’t operate the full emissions strategy in normal everyday driving to preserve driveablity, ensure maximum MPG and VW levels of durability.

    • 0 avatar
      qfrog

      In that scenario I expect that during the required emissions compliance warranty period VW would have much much higher than expected expenses and the vehicles would not perform as well as they do now due to the ECM being programmed to operate only in a compliant manner.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Absolutely, but the emissions warranty costs will almost certainly be way less than retrofitting a SCR system which will also increase the emissions performance warranty costs. Fact is those components can and do fail and when the system detects a failure it will turn on the CEL and the vehicles won’t pass the local emissions test which checks for emissions related OBD codes.

        Certainly the vehicles will not have the same driveablity and MPG as they do now no matter what the fix is.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Despite VW diesels single handily destroying the air we breath, lung health of children improves in LA vs 1990s. Where is your green god now?

    “In landmark research published Wednesday, University of Southern California scientists found that kids in the region are breathing better than they did in 1994, and the percentage of kids with abnormally poor lung function dropped by more than half.”

    “Regardless of race, exposure to cigarette smoke, or factors like education and pets, kids tested between 2007 and 2011 had healthier lungs than kids the same ages tested between 1994 and 1998.”

    “The result: Some of the most problematic pollutants-smog-forming nitrogen dioxide and fine particles created by diesel-engine exhaust and other fossil fuels-declined in the worst neighborhoods by up to 50 percent in 20 years. Maritime pollution, particularly in neighborhoods near the massive ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, also has dropped substantially.

    The cleaner air came as virtually every type of pollution source in the region grew—numbers of people, cars, trucks, ships, aircraft, and vehicle miles traveled.”

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/03/150304-los-angeles-smog-children-health-environment/

    • 0 avatar
      VoGo

      28CL,
      These impressive and critical improvements are the result of CARB and EPA enforced reductions in pollutants across the board. With all the whining about excessive government regulation, we should remember that freedom is just a slogan if you can’t breathe the air.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I agree, many factors contributed to this success. Even if you factor in the offending diesels, they don’t number enough to have a measurable negative impact (which was my point from yesterday). I think LA is a bell weather for this sort of thing, if their air quality has improved so significantly logically most other cities have improved somewhat as well in the same period.

        • 0 avatar
          heavy handle

          ” they don’t number enough to have a measurable negative impact”

          Diesel cars, correct. Diesel trucks, tugboats, tractors, etc: there are plenty in LA. plus the study you quote goes back 20 years, not just 5.

          If anything, the study demonstrates that CARB and the EPA are doing good work.

  • avatar
    audiphile

    This article is very misleading. The software alone can be modified to reduce NOx emissions to correctly pass the current EPA standards. Selective Catalytic Reduction would not be necessary for that for cars that didn’t come with it originally. Unfortunately, the direct result of lowering NOx will be lower fuel mileage, which is what the owners buy these cars for in the first place.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      And that brings on yet another liability for VW, since now you have ticked off customers who suddenly don’t have the car specifications they paid for. Ford and Hyundai got socked in the balls for that just here in the past few years.

      VW has several routes to choose from, and must weight the cost in terms of dollars and goodwill for each.

    • 0 avatar
      Contrarian

      And horrible performance unbefitting of a VW. No, SW alone won’t fix this, or every other manufacturer would have done without DEF too.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    With low gas prices right now, hybrid and EV sales won’t benefit from this mess as much as they’d like. Too bad.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Do all that and the car is still non-compliant just like a 2016 Jetta diesel.

    The only viable solution is to buy them all back and crush them.

    Knowing that, governments may negotiate an “environmental impact fee” in lieu of a complete fix.

    Any way you cut it, this is an existential disaster for VW.

  • avatar
    cowboysanchez

    Considering the frangible nature of the DSG transmission and high mileages of some earlier cars, the scrap option looks good for a decent percentage.

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    The actual govt solution will be a huge fine for cheating, another equally large fine for polluting, and being forced to buy back all of the affected cars and crush them for recycling. And as usual, the consumer winds up paying for all of this. Hide your GTI and R’s now.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Might as well take the bumper off while you’re in there.

  • avatar
    adawson6721

    I’m an owner of a 2015 Golf TDI that I bought only 8 months ago. I thought I was buying the best car on the market from quality to good mileage, etc. I feel different when I get into it now. I don’t want it anymore but I’ve financed the car over 4 years payed about 15% down on it. I have a contract to pay. My next payment: September 30th. I really don’t want my money to it. I understand I have a signed a legal obligation to pay but isn’t this contract voided because of their actions?

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    Oh boy…so VW is going to design a bunch of complex emission controls after the fact and retrofit a whole bunch of hastily designed parts presumably in dealer service departments of, um varying degrees of competence, every penny of which eat away profit. What could go wrong with this? I’d buy a quad-4 Grand Am before I’d touch one of these things after whatever fix is applied.

  • avatar
    Corky Boyd

    I fail to see how altering the emission control system would benefit fuel mileage to any great degree. Nor do I think that is what VW intended. I think they were after more power. The TDI is a puny 122 cubic inches. Only by giving a healthy turbo boost will it give performance equal to a gasoline powered car. But heavy boosting raises the combustion chamber temperature and NOx emissions.

    VW found a way around it. And that was to over boost but hide it during the EPA tests. They did it by sensing when it was on the test stand. The first of the tests is the urban cycle which involves a cold start and a wait of 20 seconds before accelerating. Matching that data point and two or three others in the structured test, signaled the ECU to reduce the boost levels enough to pass the NOx test.

    If this is the case, the fix is only a software revision. But it will also result in an underpowered vehicle.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Kamil Kaluski, United States
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States

Get No-holds-barred, take-no-prisoners Automotive News in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked