This week, Daimler, BMW, Jaguar Land Rover and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles issued statements on how their diesel cars don’t cheat like someone else you may’ve heard of.
“The BMW Group does not manipulate or rig any emissions tests,” BMW said in a statement Thursday. “We observe the legal requirements in each country and fulfill all local testing requirements.”
BMW’s admission is notable because the automakers’ X3 diesel model was targeted by the independent commission that discovered that Volkswagen’s cars illegally polluted.
A recent press release on the completion and success of a three-year program to test biofuels in Volkswagen Jetta and Passat TDI models may hint that two external companies had knowledge of the high levels of NOx produced by the “Clean Diesel” vehicles.
The two California-based companies — Solazyme and Amyris — were given the Volkswagen vehicles to test their fuels. VW announced that the program was a success a few months ago, stating CO2 emissions were reduced when using the biofuels. However, the companies only would have known their fuels produced less emissions if the biofuel companies tested the emissions output using diesel fuel and compared it with their own products.
Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency said this week that they’ll change regulations to hopefully catch carmakers who cheat on emissions tests in the future.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters at a Wall Street Journal forum Tuesday that the agency would be “upping its game” to stop automakers like Volkswagen from creating two dramatically different emissions cycles for its cars — a cleaner “testing mode” and a dirtier real-world mode. The agency said it would also crack down on automakers who lie about real-world fuel economy.
“Writing regulations takes time,” EPA’s director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality Chris Grundler told the Detroit News. “When you are working in the rapidly changing environment that we’re in right now, we want to make sure that we are agile enough and flexible enough to change with those times.”
Volkswagen may not be the only one that was cheating on their emissions testing. Reports coming out of the European Federation for Transport and Environment are shining light on other manufacturers which could be putting out dodgy emissions figures. I found the Vauxhall Zafira Tourer on one such report and decided to take a look at the Chevy Cruze Diesel due to related engine technology. I was surprised by what I found.
Volkswagen broke the law.
Scratch that. Volkswagen knowingly went out of their way to break the law, did as much as they could to cover up that fact, and only admitted to wrongdoing when the evidence was so heavy that the German giant couldn’t stand under the weight of its own conspiracy.
Nearly 11 million vehicles worldwide — of which 482,000 made their way to the United States — were fitted with a “defeat device” which used a different engine map when being tested for emissions. That device allowed the Volkswagen TDIs to pass sniffer tests on a dyno, but on-road evaluations by the International Council on Clean Transportation showed the four-cylinder diesels were emitting up to 40 times the allowable nitrogen oxides in the real world.
A few things are going to happen. None of it will be pretty. Nobody is going to walk away from this without oily blowback on their faces.
Many in the Volkswagen diesel community are fanatical about their fuel economy and are understandably angry that a fix for the current emissions scandal may see them lose fuel economy in order to lower NOx output. The aftermarket community has provided modifications for the DPF and Adblue systems in the past, meaning there’s good chance they’ll provide parts and tuning to revert any changes Volkswagen may implement on the affected models.
Until now, the EPA’s investigation into NOx emissions has centered around Volkswagen’s four-cylinder diesel engines equipped in the Jetta, Golf, Golf/Jetta SportWagen, Beetle Coupe/Convertible, Passat and Audi A3. The EPA is now investigating the larger 3.0-liter diesel, used by Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche, to see if it is compliant or affected by the same “defeat device”, says David Shepardson of the Detroit News.
The larger diesel mill is used in the Touareg, Audi A6/A7/A8/Q7, and Porsche Cayenne.
More as we have it.
The next-generation Smart Fortwo, expected to go on sale in North America shortly, won’t achieve the magical 40-mpg benchmark in highway driving, reports Car & Driver.
Fuel economy for the Mercedes microcar will stay similar to the current generation at 33 mpg city and 39 mpg highway when equipped with the automatic transmission. Manual models will get the same highway fuel economy, but give up 1 mpg on the city cycle.
Speaking at a conference this week, EPA exec Christopher Grundler said automakers have asked for higher octane fuels for higher compression tolerance and more powerful engines, Automotive News is reporting.
Speaking at the CAR Management Briefing Seminar series, Grundler said the EPA has the authority to regulate fuel, but that the agency would investigate whether it would make sense to offer the higher-grade fuel. Grundler is the agency’s director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality.
(Note to Grundler: You seem like a smart guy. Why can’t we all have race fuel all the time?)
Owners of the 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata will experience better fuel economy compared to the outgoing 2015 model.