By on September 25, 2015

BMW 650i Grand Coupe

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.

In separate statements, Daimler said its diesel sedans comply with regulations after a German group said it had evidence that the automaker cheated on emissions tests (via AutoGuide).

We sharply deny the allegation that we manipulated our cars during emissions tests. We never did and do not now use a defeat device.

FCA told Cars.com that it “works closely and continually with the EPA and CARB (California Air Resource Board) to ensure its vehicles are compliant with all applicable requirements. FCA U.S. does not use ‘defeat devices.'”

And anyone else who’s ever tried diesel — even once in college, after parents’ weekend — is denying any wrongdoing.

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31 Comments on “Automakers’ Denials of Cheating Actually Faster Than Many of Their Cars...”


  • avatar
    smartascii

    I have a barely-related question: how does CARB have any authority? Are they elected? Appointed? Could any state impose more rigorous emissions standards than Federally mandated? If a given carmaker decided to make their cars EPA-compliant, but not CARB-compliant, what would happen? I guess I don’t understand why they’re there or what they do that’s useful to anyone.

    • 0 avatar

      CARB set laws in Cali and basically used their size as weight to force manufacturers pay to play. It’s possible than any state could establish their own legal requirements for products sold inside their state (like raw milk), however, in this case it’s just understood to be easiest to let the left coast establish and other states follow. Many folks get used to the laws being similar enough between states that they often don’t realize there are some pretty radical differences in some areas, it just doesn’t often cross into mainstream life. If Montana made some absurd law, they probably just wouldn’t get new cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Lack Thereof

        You’re wrong. States are not allowed to set their own emissions standards for new cars. CARB gets grandfathered in, because CARB was created before the federal government started setting emissions standards.

        So now individual states can either follow federal standards, or CARB standards. Many states with persistent urban air quality issues (NY, WA, etc) have adopted CA standards.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          There is no persistent air quality problem in WA. Yes in the past there were some issues but the normal replacement of the fleet eliminated that well before we adopted the bad parts of CARB laws, stricter standards, but not the good part stricter warranties on emissions components.

          Fact is there have been way to many Californians that moved to WA that want to Californicate WA. We see it in many ways besides the emissions laws. There are a lot of development and land use laws that have been patterned after CA laws that have been popping up.

          The one thing that has thankfully popped up to combat some of that is the right to farm laws. We had lots of new developemnts popping up in rural areas that had the new residents complaining of the smells and sounds of farming. Thankfully the new law says they have no legal basis to complain or sue.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      CARB has authority because California was the only state to have an environmental regulatory agency before the Clean Air Act paved the way for the eventual creation of the EPA. CA is the only state that can impose their own standards, other states must follow federal standards or CARB’s.

      If a carmaker makes their car EPA-compliant but not CARB-compliant then they cannot sell the car in California and any other state that follows CARB’s regulations (as of now 13 additional states + DC). Since California is one of the biggest car markets in the US (and other heavy hitters like most of the Northeast also follow CARB) not making the car CARB compliant is basically asking for it to be a failure on the marketplace.

      • 0 avatar
        Sigivald

        “CA is the only state that can impose their own standards, other states must follow federal standards or CARB’s.”

        What makes you think that other states *can’t*?

        I mean, it wouldn’t *work*, because nobody else is a big enough market (well, maybe Texas, but they’re not likely to) to get carmakers to follow along.

        But as far as I know, there’s no special legal cutout for CARB alone to exceed Federal standards*; it’s just that no other state has ever thought the Federal standards insufficient.

        (I’m not sure, as a Constitutional matter, that the Federal government *can* prevent them… and if it could, it could override CARB’s powers.

        The internet seems to suggest you’re right, but a) it’s Constitutionally baffling and b) nobody actually links to the statute doing the notional restriction…

        Oh, well, it’s not like the Federal government cares about mere Constitutionality.)

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          (For anyone playing along at home, I found the statute – 42 USC 7543.

          Which states exactly that no state can do that, without a waiver (but waivers are not restricted to California or its standards).

          The statute does not claim exactly what Constitutional justification the Federal government has for preventing the States from doing so, but Congress rarely bothers with such.)

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            The commerce clause was meant to prevent exactly what CARB does, but the practice of constitutional law is all about pretending it means what you want it to. It can be said that California had a real need for pollution regulations before the federal government had one, but the legal means of addressing that need would have been achieved through sponsoring a bill in the US congress containing appropriate legislation.

        • 0 avatar
          whynot

          It is in the Air Quality act of 1967 (an amendment to the Clean Air Act of 1963):
          http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00022470.1968.10469096

          Look at Page 9 of the PDF under “State Standards” (very end of page. (a) says that States can’t regulate the emissions. (b) says that the section does not apply to any state that had emission standards prior to March 30, 1966 as long as the standards are at the very least as stringent as the federal standards.

          California was the only state that (b) applied too, so they are the only state that can make their own emission standards.

          My guess is their constitutional justification on prohibiting states from setting their own emissions would be something related to interstate commerce.

    • 0 avatar
      GeneralMalaise

      One must never lose sight of the fact that the people who keep ratcheting up and setting these standards would like us all to ride buses or other public transit and would outlaw the automobile if they could.

  • avatar

    CARB is appointed. And, yes, states can be more rigorous than the feds. I don’t think anything can be sold in California that’s not carb-compliant.

    And, I never did try Diesel, not even in college. (Of course, my statement hear may be taken by some as a bogus denial of wrong-doing.) But I’m very tempted right now to take the Civic (stick) into the VW people to have it hot-wheeled.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      No other states cannot be more rigorous than the feds. Only the Feds or CA (by basically being grandfathered in) are allowed to set any standards- the other states must choose to follow one of the two.

      That said the Feds and CARB work closely together when coming up with the standards.

      • 0 avatar
        Lorenzo

        New York, Massachusetts, and several other states have adopted CARB standards for their emissions tests. That’s the fly in the ointment – the states do the post-sale testing, not the EPA.

        Manufacturers can sell cars in those states that meet EPA but not CARB standards, but they’ll flunk after-sale emissions tests and kill resale value and future sales to angry customers. The manufacturers have now adopted a single, CARB mandated 50 state standard.

        CARB is now the muscle of the EPA, proposing and imposing more stringent auto emissions standards, with EPA happily going along, since it’s harder to get those standards adopted at the federal level.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    One thing that puzzles me is that everyone is pointing the finger at VW yet there are sooooo many worse offenders out there. I get it. VW purposefully set out to deceive regulators, but that’s really where the shame should stop. One A$$hole in his heavy duty truck rolling coal at every other stoplight probably makes more pollutants in a year than 10000 VW golfs.

    Are trucks even subject to the Same clean air laws? They should be since most of them are simply urban cowboys commuting.

    Just feel that of clean air is the primary motivator in this witch hunt we should be coming down on lots more than VW …pickup trucks in particular

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      There’s the regulatory philosophy that you will never be able to stop that handful of tuners from doing what they want. 5% of the cars will always produce 90% of the emissions. But so long as the vast majority of daily-driven commuters are unmodified and (theoretically) obeying the rules, air quality doesn’t get worse. You use periodic smog testing in urban areas to try and keep that 5% of polluting cars out in the rural countryside, where air quality is not a big concern.

      And it’s generally worked. Compare any major city in America in the 70’s or 80’s with the air today. Even though a handful of people have always been ripping off smog pumps and bypassing catalytic converters, air quality is far better than it was 30 years ago, even with twice as many cars circulating the cities.

      • 0 avatar
        pragmatist

        But that brings up another point: by 2003, in all seriousness, the job was pretty much done. Cities were cleaned up. But EPA (I guess like any bureaucracy) has moved the standards drastically again, which is why this is even an issue. The limits went from very low to unacheievably low

        [This does not get VW off the hook because they behaved dishonestly, but it’s really time to reel in these pie in the sky zealots.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Its hard to point at worse offenders (lawnmowers, trucks-SUVs) when our primary source for car news, cant go a day without without several quickly made VW articles.

      TTACs jump to milking VW actually quicker than many of their cars.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Bitter, much? VW broke the rules on purpose and lied about it until they were caught. Dont like it? Too bad, its the truth. VW has the spotlight on it because what it did is newsworthy. This isnt some “defect” only showing up after the cars were on the road for years, this was a deliberate attempt to circumvent the law, backed by a huge advertising campaign claiming the cars were “clean” when VW knew damn well the opposite was true.

        Should TTAC only post negative articles about manufacturers you dislike? And ignore negative news stories about automakers you do like? Sounds great, just let me know when this takes effect so I can delete this site from my bookmarks.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        “Its hard to point at worse offenders (lawnmowers, trucks-SUVs)”

        I have a battery powered lawn mower.

        My wife didn’t like the way my gas mower smelled when I ran it, and I wasn’t too keen on transporting gas cans inside our cars (after I traded in my Ranger), so now all of those fuel handling and emissions problems are literally NIMBY – and we like it that way.

        My yard is 1/3rd of an acre, so my mover wouldn’t work for everyone. But I’m a little puzzled as to why some of my neighbors (same kind of yard as me) are still using gasoline.

        I haven’t bought an EV get, but my electric lawnmower cost about $500 about 4 years ago – which was a small price to pay for spousal harmony, clean hands, and cleaner air. Oh, and the cut grass smells way better.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          At John: You sound like the bitter one, Im jist bored.

          At Luke: Good choice, I dunno why people insist on gas mowers when electric ones will get the job done just fine.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    The 1st round of TDI VWs were banned from CA, iirc. Which is strange since CARB diesel emissions were primitive at the time. Maybe just a soot trap.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    VW has really fncked things up for us supporters of diesel power.

    I can’t believe how short sighted the fools at VW are.

    How did they ever consider they would never be caught out. What fools, and these guys operate multi billion dollar businesses.

    I did read some articles in the media suggesting that this VW saga will have a greater impact on the German economy than the Greek catastrophe.

    Diesel is a great alternative to gasoline for those who want economy. VW has really set back diesel power significantly.

    I do believe that all manufacturers are not sincere in what they do and the more or less self regulated auto manufacturing industry must be audited to ascertain the compliance of all aspect of the industry.

    What a pity.

    • 0 avatar
      RobertRyan

      @ Big Al from OZ
      One of the Advisory bodies to the Australian Federal Government, thought it maybe a ” good idea” to have parallel imports of ” slightly used” vehicles. Stupid idea to start with , for many reasons, but the VW debacle has probably killed it for good

  • avatar
    doublechili

    Does anyone know the cause of the delay for the Mazda6 diesel? If it’s emissions-related, then I guess we can say at least Mazda is innocent….

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    There was a time when diesel light passenger cars and trucks were a decent value proposition for owners, but they were all pre emissions, sorry to say.

  • avatar

    I once benefited by being in the NYMA. A Ford I owned tossed a part out of warranty, but as it was emission related, it was covered. The Service Manager said “when I was working in CT, it would not have been paid for”.

    Still doesn’t make up for our torture by Check Engine light. (In NY, CE=Fail) I still think the old school sniffer test made more sense, even if easier to cheat. The check engine light is a relic, and that you need a reader is a throwback to the 80’s.

    I got rolled coal once by some guy in a dualie pickup with stacks. I’m sure it WAS more pollution than my TDi in 100k, even with the scandal.

    I just wish I’d known this sooner. I’d have gone with a Malone Tune and DPF delete….oh well.

    I’m amazed at the butthurt in comments in non car rags. I was reading a few major newspaper comment areas, and you’d think someone lied about Santa Claus.

  • avatar
    hawox

    come on! fiat, bmw, gm, ford, renault diesels aren’t much different from vw. similar power, similar consumpions, bosh electronics everywhere.
    is it possible that they don’t cheat? maybe they were only smarter in doing it

    • 0 avatar
      pragmatic

      I’m sure cars can pass without cheating it will just cost more or lower fuel economy. US standards are much tighter than European. One of the issues is CARB and EPA decided in the late 2000’s that all cars (gasoline and diesel) should meet the same standard. This meant that diesel NOx had to be greatly reduced to meet the gasoline NOx standard. The VW cheating story broke because the European car companies were lobbying to prevent the EU from imposing tighter NOx standards. The environmentalist wanted to prove it was not impossible to meet these standards at a reasonable cost so they tested US certified cars on the EU driving cycle (a duty cycle not recognized by the VW software as being part of an emissions test).

      Did BMW, FCA, Ford or GM cheap with their diesels? Maybe but other than the HD pick-ups, sales are too low to make it worthwhile. In my opinion BMW uses the diesel market in the US as a halo to show their superior engineering not to make money. It also allows them to get data on real world reliability on new control strategies in the US and then if need be use them in the EU.

      As far as the loss of diesel cars in the US I say good riddance. I was a big fan in the 80’s but gasoline engines have improved in every way since then. Diesel cars have only been able to compete through government support (fuel tax breaks and lower emission standards).

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