By on September 24, 2015

 

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.”

The EPA has cracked down on five different automakers recently for misstating fuel economy figures. In addition to Ford and Hyundai, the agency has forced BMW to restate its mileage for its Mini Cooper Hardtop and Mercedes has been forced to lower its fuel economy figures for two of its cars.

Ironically, the EPA opposes a proposal that could have helped to uncover the malicious code in Volkswagens that helped those cars skirt the rules.

Of course, there may be some mileage in just testing the cars themselves, instead of relying on self-reporting automakers. But we’re not smart like them.

(Photo courtesy Coolceasar/Wikimedia Commons)

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35 Comments on “Feds Say They’ll Tighten Emissions Tests to Catch Cheaters...”


  • avatar
    probert

    They aren’t “cheaters”, as your headline states, this is criminal activity on a large scale – they are criminals and should pay the price. In a country where a guy can go to jail for life for stealing a slice of pizza (3 strikes laws) the empathy shown for this crooked behavior is stomach churning. They profited mightily by breaking the law of the land, and in the process inflicted harm on the public, and should go to jail for their actions.

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      Dude I agree with you however you seem to forget that its called “white collar crime” for a reason. Our legal system is made up to catch, punish and make money off street crime. Nobody is going to jail for this.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    It will be nice to see what auto maker is Cheating on Emissions. I foresee VW is not the only manufacturer. FCA is probably next for Emissions Cheating. Ford and GM are probably good on Emissions.

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    Another diversionary tactic to draw attention away from the ecological damage the EPA did with the King Goldmine spill near Silverton, Colorado.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      The EPA are better scientists than you or I know. Not only do they know about emissions cheating, they actually developed a time machine that allows them to go back to 2009 and persuade VW executives to begin systematically cheating on emissions tests, _just_ so they can turn it into a scandal five years later when they need a distraction!

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Ya, that’s it. It’s all the EPA’s fault.

      I mean damn you big government and taking away my choices to paint my house with lead paint, insulate it with asbestos, and eat off of radioactive Fiesta Ware plates. How dare you not allow me to wire my house with aluminum instead of copper, and why can’t I use lead solder on my pipes anymore. BASTARDS!

      If women don’t want to suffer from morning sickness, who the Hell is the government to say they can’t take Thalidomide? I say sell it over the counter. Hell, we should sell anti-biotics over the counter too, who cares about drug resistant diseases – that’s just lies anyway. If I want to scarf down the wrong medication by the handful, damn it, it is my feckin’ right.

      While we’re at it, lets get rid of seatbelts and airbags, they only interfere with Darwin (or God if you so please) and get in the way of natural selection. It is my God given right to go flying through the windshield in a crash (damn you safety glass for not shredding me to pieces) if I so choose, and no flat footed goomba from Washington D.C. is going to tell me otherwise.

      Now if you excuse I’m going to chain smoke a box on unfiltered Camels and blow the smoke in my baby’s face. It’s good for them, toughens them up.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        I had to look up the radioactive Fiesta Ware. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I still was.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        You know if Volvo had collected a royalty from seat belt technology instead of literally giving it away, its car division would not have been sold twice.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Pretty good, APaGttH, pretty good!

      • 0 avatar

        You can buy all the antibiotics you want over the counter from pet and veterinary suppliers, even Cipro. That’s how the preppers stock up.

        I’ve treated myself for a strep infection with erythromycin that I bought at PetSmart.

        FWIW, not a single safety or pollution technology in use in the automotive industry today was developed by a government agency.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          Ronnie Schreiber – does PetSmart do the culture and sensitivity to say that you got the right antibiotic?

          Only in ‘Murica one gets better care at the vet ;)

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          ….FWIW, not a single safety or pollution technology in use in the automotive industry today was developed by a government agency….

          No surprise there. It’s not government’s job to develop such technology. Regulations are supposed to be technology neutral. It is up to industry to select the best method for compliance. And if you want to see what a non-regulatory environment would be like, just go to a boatyard during the summer and smell the sweet smell of the free market. If manufacturers are not forced to do the right thing, they never will.

          • 0 avatar

            To be fair boats have emission controls since 2006 but very few new boats have been sold since 2009 so there are limited numbers with modern engines. But yes boating in general is fairly light on regulation.

      • 0 avatar
        sgeffe

        I had always heard the Marlboro Reds were the worst. Or was it Lucky Strikes?

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      Yeah, what morons the EPA are, damming up all of that toxic mine drainage in those mountains. What were they thinking. That’s what happens when you second-guess free market solutions!

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        I believe the only worthwhile comparison between the EPA’s unintentional screw-up and VW’s fraud is what happens to the incompetent and guilty respectively. VW apparently believes that the chop starts at the top, while I haven’t heard reports of any consequences at the EPA.

        • 0 avatar
          ktm

          The EPA and Federal government are quick to prosecute under the Clean Water Act if a private company (not only the company but the individual as well) unintentionally impacts a body of water. However, since it’s the EPA no-harm, no foul.

          While the EPA did not cause the original issue (damming of the mine), they ARE responsible for the release as they are the ones doing the mitigation work. The EPA caused the spill and have admitted as such.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            They did cause the release. But the mess was caused by the virtually unregulated mining use of land, a byproduct of an ancient law that puts mining use ahead of everything else. Helped populate the west for sure, but allows for such disasters and for near free pilfering of natural resources.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s a conspiiiirrrracccy, man!

  • avatar
    jkross22

    By ‘upping their game’, it will be interesting to see if that means they begin testing vehicles themselves or fund a 3rd party on a consistent basis to do so.

    • 0 avatar
      VCplayer

      They don’t need to comprehensively test every vehicle, they just need to pay extra attention to new/exotic powertrains and maybe test random models during the year.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        In states where recertification is required prior to annual re-registration, each vehicle is tested comprehensively using a Sun Analyzer that gives a detailed printout.

        If you car passes, you are provided a certificate and the testing station enters the vehicle data into the DMV/MVD system.

        If your car doesn’t pass, you have to have it fixed and recertified before you can re-register it.

    • 0 avatar
      Fred

      Don’t be shocked if someday the testing is done while you are driving.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        It is already. It’s called OBDII.

        • 0 avatar
          Fred

          But no one is collecting that data over the long term. Besides it can be cleared and cheated just like any software solution.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            Many are collecting the data over the long term. GM does (and Acura and Mercedes did) though OnStar for one, Toyota has added a service you can pay for to tell you to service the vehicle, along with a long list of luxury makes.

            I can actually push the OnStar button when I have a CEL and they can tell me what the problem is, for some issues than can even reset the code remotely (like gas cap).

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Fred, they do already collect the data on ALL leased vehicles, rentals, and ALL vehicles sold in the US that have OnStar or similar capability.

            The cars phone home to mama regularly, without you knowing about it, or even if you don’t subscribe to the service, such as OnStar.

            If the car has the connectivity, like OnStar or NAV, it will phone home. With or without your permission.

          • 0 avatar
            Fred

            My point is that EPA/States should use this data to certify your car and keep the manufacturer’s honest. I don’t see any attempt to do that.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      ‘upping their game’ …… Job Postings – EPA highers an additional 3,000 employees.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    This all sounds to me like the EPA is asleep at the wheel, not enforcing the rules already on the books. I would think that the EPA would spot-check the most popular diesel engine in the market for the last 5 years. Even if they didn’t suspect cheating/fraud, I would think the EPA would like to see how its benchmark requirements fair in the real world.

    Maybe the EPA should have a bounty for whistleblowers and/or people who bring cheating to the EPA’s attention.

  • avatar
    tedward

    Thank you for that link at the bottom of the article about the epa opposing ecu software dissemination. I had wrongly assumed that they were in favour of having this access, and that they didn’t see that it would only open up the aftermarket tuning game to more players.

    The wired article was really unsympathetic to that argument. I think that speaks poorly of their understanding of the topic at hand. This is a complicated industry, making the most complicated consumer goods out there, you’d think that editors would assign stories to writers with a decent background in it. Sometimes you need an expert.

    • 0 avatar
      anomaly149

      Altering a vehicle’s software can have a lot of repercussions. You can access everything over the CAN bus, from the airbag system to the anti-pinch on the power liftgate, from the emissions system to the fly by wire brake and gas pedals and the EPAS unit. The lights, infotainment, and traction control are just icing on the cake.

      The “big deal” here is when a car hits the used markets with a stance bro’s custom tune on all of that. Just wait till the mods and all put a grandma in a Civic into a tree. No argument about prior restraint will bring back Nana, unfortunately, and the family is pretty sure that it’s Honda’s fault that the car’s electronics could be modified in that way.

      The really interesting question in the future will be how many used car dealers are interested in reflashing a car’s computer before sale?

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