By on September 22, 2015

Mark Rosekind Circa December 2014

Speaking at an event in suburban Detroit, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration chief Mark Rosekind said Volkswagen’s admission that they lied about emissions in their diesel cars erodes confidence in automakers.

“They tell you one thing, you question it,” Rosekind said to reporters, according to Automotive News. “You just have to question every assumption when information is provided.”

Recent scandals including VW, hackable cars and airbag defects erode consumer confidence and that more must be done by automakers before cars go on sale, he said.

“Accountability in leadership is literally at the top of the list, and we’ve just got to be out front, acting, talking and doing everything we can to demonstrate that it should be in their genes,” Rosekind said, according to Automotive News.

Rosekind also said that vehicle hacking, like the vulnerability found in hundreds of thousands of Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s cars, should be at the forefront for more automakers.

“Autos are the biggest target for everyone to go after,” Rosekind said. “So, basically, they’re on a pedestal now. They’re the Holy Grail. They’re in a garage. They’re accessible.”

Rosekind also hinted at a future where NHTSA is more involved with automakers before cars are released.

“NHTSA is interested in doing more than just policing the auto industry,” he said.

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64 Comments on “NHTSA Chief: VW’s Cheating Hurts ‘Public Confidence’ in Industry...”

  • avatar

    It’s OK because I never had any faith in your brand in the first place!

    • 0 avatar

      Totes agree. We can see through all that VAG smoke and mirrors

      • 0 avatar

        “Totes agree. We can see through all that VAG smoke and mirrors”

        It bears repeating:

        You might want to read that headline again (closely). The headline quoted the NHTSA chief, not VAG brass.

    • 0 avatar

      It would less ridiculous if you weren’t so myopic. VW posesses diesel tech at least as advanced as anybody else. And, on balance more relevant in the US, ditto for petrol diesels (Turbo/DI/stratospheric compression….).

      Here’s the deal: If software can differentiate between official tests and regular usage, software will do so. Not because some guy at VW is baaaaaad, and now everything is fine again. But simply because.

      What needs to go, is the “official tests.” Which do nothing other than entrench a bureaucracy, and create a master different than the buyer for the products sold. Whather it’s mpg testing, CAFE nonsense, or NOx whatnot.

      NOX, and other, emissions are nasty, hence needs to be controlled. But the way to do it, is to spot check cars in the wild. For as long and hard as necessary. With a commission paid to the guy who can generate some usage pattern that sees emissions above what’s deemed “acceptable.” Then punish the living heck and a half out of the owner. As he is, after all, the guy doing the polluting. And then, purchase patterns will sort out who and what is, and is not, trustworthy, as far as emissions is concerned.

      • 0 avatar

        Someone’s recently missed a lot of sleep.

      • 0 avatar

        stuki – for the most part I tend to agree but punishing the owner for a factory design is wrong. If they turned their diesel into a rollin’coal bro-dozer then that is different.

        Oddly enough as others have pointed out, it seems that the EPA is being held up as the villain. They are partially to blame due to the fact that they set easy to game standards. They are ultimately guilty of gross incompetence since it was a 3rd party that pointed out the problem.

        Maybe VW can now sell to the “urban redneck”. Just run a set of large chrome stacks out of the back hatch.

        Rollin’ coal Vee Dub Style……………..

        Much more catchy than “Das Auto”.

      • 0 avatar

        What bureaucracy determines the commission payout? What bureaucracy determines the level of punishment? Is the spot check done by a private industry? Wouldn’t they be incentivised to find a way to fail as many vehicles as possible under such a system, possibly to the point of gaming the test? Who will determine what test equipment is needed?

    • 0 avatar

      “It’s OK because I never had any faith in your brand in the first place!”

      You might want to read that headline again. It refers to the statement made by the NHTSA Chief, not VW’s corporate leaders (lackeys):

      “NHTSA Chief: VW’s Cheating Hurts ‘Public Confidence’ in Industry”

      And to this I say: The NHTSA chief (mistakenly) assumes that the public had any confidence in the industry to begin with.

      • 0 avatar

        NHTSA trying to lay blame for eroding confidence in the entire auto industry is just some PR “stancing” to try to lay the groundwork for a claim as to the large extent of the damage done by VW.

        They can push for higher fines if they can claim that VW not only damaged VW owners and the environment, but that they also harmed the entire industry.

        It’s like saying that I have less faith in Ford and FCA because GMC stalled and deceived concerning their ignition switches.

        I might wonder of the the other players might have similar skeletons in their closets, but my confidence in them did not decline just because GMC was duplicitous.

        And I doubt anyone except government lawyers fighting for a larger settlement will claim with a straight face that VAG’s shenanigans called into question the entire industry.

        YMMV, but this looks like nothing more than negotiating tactics to me.

  • avatar

    I’m not sure that lying about emissions really hurts consumer confidence, the cars still do what the owners want from them, I doubt many if any owners would be able to notice a difference in emissions (ha). Exploding airbags in Hondas most important vehicles, yes. Key switch defects, well many of the cars that were affected aren’t exactly from segments that GM had loyal customers, it’s not like they did it in there trucks. Bad yes, hurting GMs reputation, questionable at this point.

  • avatar

    Meh – sales data shows that Toyota sales weren’t hurt from their debacle, GM sales have continued to go up after the ignition switch issues, and Honda doesn’t have problems selling vehicles.

    The only maker that comes to mind where malfeasance on a grand scale can be pointed at and go, that hurt them is Mitsubishi, and their covering up of recalls and defects. Of course their vehicles were largely steaming piles anyway so that didn’t help, but that’s a different story.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Here is the huge difference, and it has to do with the Perception of Control:

      Consumers are able to rationalize that stopping a runaway Toyota is a simple matter of turning off the ignition or standing on the brakes, even if it isn’t.

      GM ignition switches don’t fail on Day 1, so consumers figure theirs will work tomorrow like it did today.

      Honda was mostly a victim of Takata, so people figure they still build good cars.

      In this case, the mfr is INTENTIONALLY doing something offensive and illegal (rather than negligently or accidentally) behind the consumer’s back, and it hurts the resale value of their car. I think VW will pay a very heavy price in terms of future sales.

      • 0 avatar

        When I read the commentary from the proletariat outside of the B&B, the government is at fault, the EPA is evil, and VW did nothing wrong.

        I never thought in my lifetime I would see a society so ready to cut their own throats and thunderously applaud while they do it.

        I have my own concerns over the heavy hand of government and their interference in affairs, and that the biggest thing 9/11 changed was accelerating the large shat the government takes on the Constitution and the Bill or Rights on a daily basis.

        This, this is not a case of government overreach, shake downs, government extortion, or an organization looking for its existence. This is the exact kind of reason why the EPA exists – if anything – this is a rare win where they are on the right side of the argument.

        I hold no delusions the EPA is run by saints, nor that everything they do is right. But I find it stunning when ordinary citizens, who have had stagnant pay for over 20 years, who are taking it up the butt every single living day from big corporations and government alike, are cheering, literally cheering, be bent over and rode hard without the benefit of even a swab of diesel fuel on the broom handle up their…

        • 0 avatar

          Where are you reading? Because the proletariat commentary I’ve read outside the B&B (on the Washington Post, for what it’s worth) wants the entire VW leadership to go to jail.

          • 0 avatar

            Go to

            It’s quite something how some people over there seem to have no problem with being lied to by their corporate overlords in the land of chocolate while railing against the big bad EPA. Oh, and of course the tired comparisons with GM. Some are even buying VW stock “while it’s low”.

        • 0 avatar

          The people answering that government is the problem, that the enforcement action against VW is a shakedown, that the Obama administration is a bunch of Chicago-style thugs? They have pretty much the same response on every issue, on every blog they post on.

          They are remarkably consistent.

          But seriously … claiming that VW did nothing wrong here? That they are a victim? The only way you can claim this is by pretending that government regulations are invalid or wrong or inherently political, that gaming them is just fair play, that everyone breaks the law and that enforcement is just a political power play in itself.

          But some people claim those things.

          I don’t agree.

  • avatar

    It’s not so much public trust in an industry that is hurt, so much as it is trust in particular companies and the government’s inefficiencies, ineptitude and inability to crack down on violators.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve lost trust in the ability of our government to properly test vehicles for emissions. Particularly because this sort of gaming the system as I’ve recently read is not that uncommon in the EU. So why then wouldn’t our government be smrt enough to at least make an effort to perform a testing regiment which isn’t easily identifiable by the vehicle’s onboard systems.

    • 0 avatar

      Yet you complain when they do crack down. There is no pleasing you people.

      • 0 avatar

        jmo, Huh? We have laws and regulations that aren’t enforced. No point in having them if they’re ignored. Applies to many laws in varying industries (thinking of banking and automotive specifically).

        Happy to see a crack down, but of course it’s not the EPA that discovered this, the agency charged with, you know, finding these things.

        • 0 avatar

          The EPA is going after Volkswagen, which is the definition of enforcement.

          • 0 avatar

            Oh, yeah. I can hear the keystrokes of cancelled leave in the Agency from deepest Flyover here. It’s showtime.

          • 0 avatar

            The US relies heavily upon third parties to help to police things after the fact.

            If we had more bureaucrats and laws to screen things out before the fact, then the right wingers would whine about that, too. The current system is less costly and intrusive. In the scheme of things, compliance is generally pretty high, so there isn’t much to gripe about.

    • 0 avatar

      Scary thing is; you’re probably right. That’s what 100+ years of pervasive progressive indoctrination will do to a population. It’s never, ever anything wrong with “the system”. Just with every single fall guy. Everything else is just a-ok. Until the next fall guy…. etc., etc…

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t believe it’s progressive indoctrination. It’s a frustrated electorate throwing it’s hands up and giving up on engaging in public policy because we have a ‘pay to play’ government and most people can’t write the big checks.

        It’s no wonder Sanders and Trump are appealing.

  • avatar

    I don’t know… I’d like my stern moral arbiters to look more like Nader, not sporting fattened corporate jowls.

  • avatar

    A bit of old news:

    Back in 2010, Alfa Romeo’s boss Harald Wester, alluded in an interview that Audi misrepresented data related to emissions of its models. That was why the Alfa Romeo Giulietta could not match the emissions of the Audi A3 1.6 TDI ( 99g CO2 / km ). Wester called the figures “miraculous, magical and alien”. “We have to be somewhat serious about these figures in the long term” concluded Harald Wester, who was named president of Alfa Romeo beginning of 2010. A spokesman from Audi defended the model in question, claiming that the figures reflect perfectly the technological advance of German brand over the others on the market: ” The 1.6 TDI 99 grams CO2/km has ultra-low emissions because represents a technological advance, of which we are very proud.” said the official Audi quoted by news agency Just-Auto.

    Everybody back then thought maybe Wester was crazy. I bet he feels avenged now.

    Interesting parody here:

    • 0 avatar

      Not so good is computer translator program. Propellers compact – mount on roof for VTOL capability? Is confusing.

    • 0 avatar

      CO2 emissions = fuel economy

      Excessive NOx = technology failure

      Not really the same thing.

      • 0 avatar

        pch101: Thank you, but….you can split the hair any way you like.

        What I meant is that they lied some time ago and finally caught up with them.

        • 0 avatar

          There hasn’t been evidence presented that the 99 gram claim (which is equivalent to 63 mpg US) was false.

          The European fuel economy tests routinely produce high results compared to the US EPA, and it isn’t a secret that few drivers are able to achieve them.

          I’m sure that Fiat’s figures in Europe are inflated, too, because everybody’s are. The issue isn’t with cheating, but with the test.

  • avatar

    Yet the EPA has been investigating VW for this specific powertrain during the past year. The EPA didn’t come to this conclusion, a third party air conservation group did.

    So what are we paying these fat paycheck cashing government regulators for? My faith in the EPA doing it’s job is more tarnished than my belief that VW will adhere to regulatory standards in the future.

    • 0 avatar

      Ah, 2 years ago you would have totally supported the EPA announcing a new, more complex, expensive and involved testing regime involving both lab testing and real world testing? Or, would you have bitched and moaned about regulatory burdens and government overreach?

      • 0 avatar

        “Ah, 2 years ago you would have totally supported the EPA announcing a new, more complex, expensive and involved testing regime involving both lab testing and real world testing?”

        I absolutely would have supported it. I’ve been complaining for years that the amount of system-gaming participated in by the auto industry. Everyone is just teaching to the test.

        I don’t really personally support all of the current emission, safety, and fuel economy laws but if these regulations are going to exist and be enforced, and (apparently worthless) assurance is going to be given to consumers then the governing bodies need to be able to effectively test things on their end before certification.

      • 0 avatar

        jmo, the EPA has a tremendous amount of employees for what they do. They are fat just like the USDA. Their employees are lazy and useless (from my first hand experience).

        This is unfortunately going to be more ammunition to increase EPA funding. They don’t test every new car, because they can’t afford to (they are wasteful). OEM’s self certify, and they test something like 15% of new vehicles every year to verify. Between this and the CMax, it’s only a matter of time before they get their wish of a whole lot more taxpayer dollars. BUT, even if EPA tested every new car on the road, this never would have been caught. They don’t run over-the-road sniffers. There’s too much variation, that’s the whole reason the test cycles exist.

        As for your snide, know-it-all position on my thoughts which I hadn’t expressed yet: “ah” go f*ck yourself.

        Edit: point being the EPA had VW under the microscope for this exact powertrain yet they still failed to independently test the emissions for over a year. They sat on it. So much for safeguarding the environment, huh?

    • 0 avatar

      tresmonos hits the nail on the head again. Not just the EPA but other regulating government agencies charged with enforcing laws/regulations for a myriad of things. Lots of Administrators, Assistant Administrators etc. Each of these folks has a boat-load of office “workers” to “manage”. At street level are a few inspectors charged with investigating/finding things for an agency – usually the low-hanging fruit requiring little actual investigation and which results in a small fine and slap-on-the-hand to the evil-doer. The agency inquestion, the EPA, totally missed this for, what, 6 years? The upshot of all this is, because there are so many rules/regulations on the books and so few inspectors to ensure compliance, big corporations like VW get over for years with stuff like this. The folks at WVU were outsiders to the current system and probably doing a theory to practice experiment by testing the vehicles as they did. They were not yet “go along, get along” agency people. The EPA is the big winner here though – champions by “catching” the evil-doers and most likely levying large fines and sanctions. Their best win is collecting great PR for protecting the public and Gaia – which, I’m sure, will be trumpeted around during the next budget allocation for the agency (and bring some happy bonus money to all the Adminstrators, Assistant Admin….).

      • 0 avatar

        The EPA is the big winner here though – champions by “catching” the evil-doers and most likely levying large fines and sanctions.

        You’re right but it sounds like these people couldn’t catch a cold on their own.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      They’re *not* getting paid for that, mostly because the budget isn’t nearly large enough to test every model every year. The current system relies on the manufacturers acting in good faith out of fear of damaging-to-catastrophic punishments if the occasional spot-check (or tipster) rats them out. VW decided to risk it anyway and got caught.

    • 0 avatar

      “EPA employs over 17,000 people across the country, including headquarters offices in Washington, D.C., 10 regional offices, and more than a dozen labs.”

      Maybe they got busy reviewing too many Energy Star applications for gasoline powered alarm clocks to double check auto manufacturer claims.

  • avatar

    Dear Mark,

    Maybe someone from this web-site would care to explain why my comment above was censored?!?

    I have included a link to a youtube movie, something that many editors here would do…..

  • avatar

    Can you get back to writing about cars? Nobody cares about emissions and VW’s workaround. Well, at least I don’t.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I mean, I like VWs cars enough to buy them, but I’m not a fanboy. That said, it’s difficult not to be disappointed by this.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    The real problem is 99% of automakers give the other 1% a bad name.

  • avatar

    Here’s a real question that needs answering. If a company like VW had to cheat on these onerous EPA emission regs, and it wasn’t caught initially by the EPA, why does the EPA even exist? The EPA, which is a non-elected governmental entity with an agenda to destroy businesses in the states…needs to be gutted and dumped in the sewer…for a real supranational body with realistic standards of attainable emissions and fuel usage.

    We shouldn’t be mad at VW…we should be mad at the very government bloat alphabet agencies that exist to siphon the blood, sweat and tears off of Americans and business.

    • 0 avatar

      So, if said government agency is not as efficient or effective as it could be, we throw it out? Should we do that with the Department of Children & Family Services also? Does inefficiency equal execution?

      Do you really think someone in the private sector cares enough to spend their own money on things the EPA does? The EPA states their mission is:

      “Our mission is to protect human health and the environment.”

      How many people are lining up to do that large scale? To help you compare how much an appliance is going to cost you over the course of 5 or 10 years? Or perform tests across various industries? What if it does destroy businesses for the greater good of the public?

      Ahh, that’s ok. I’m sure the EPA has never prosecuted a factory for dumping chemicals illegally. Oh, wait….without the EPA, that wouldn’t be illegal, would it? I hope I never live in the world you wish for.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with runs_on_h8raide.

      EPA was shown to be totally useless in the VW scandal. They didn’t find out the violation beforehand, and after it’s reported by a third party, we only need the judicial system from this point and on to deal with VW.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    Disagree. The social and economic costs to stop dedicated dirtbags like this are just astronomical. The costs of running a regulatory system where the regulated occasionally fail or there is a bona fide technical dispute is much more reasonable.

    That’s one reason why these acts are criminal.

  • avatar

    Cadillac pulled a similar scam years ago (1990?) with their gasoline powered cars. The EPA test was run with AC off. GM set the Caddy to run rich and dirty when the AC was on…which in a car with climate control, is approximately always.

    In 1998, EPA nailed every major heavy-duty diesel manufacturer in the US for doing an end-run around the 20-minute test cycle: the engines ran clean for the first 20 minutes, and then switched to a pig-dirty program.

    In 2006 and 2014, German studies of 15 different passenger car diesels found this “cycle beating” scam yet again, to the tune of 7 times the published emission levels.

    Why do this? Smoothness for the Caddy, fuel economy for the diesels.

    It’s irrelevant that the vehicles “passed the test.” EPA regs are clear: no part or component may bypass, defeat, or render inoperative any device or element of design installed for compliance with regulations.

    More than ever, I look forward to a BEV future. Maybe with a lithium recycling component.

  • avatar

    If the engineering department at VW was clever as a snake, they would have designed the computer code so that if caught they could blame it on a metric to English units conversion error. Then they would blame us for using the English units system and ask us when we are going to change our ways so that something like this never happens again.

    By the way, I work for a German company in the construction field. I spend half my day converting inches to millimeters and back again. If only the world would pick one of the two systems, and I don’t care which one, then I would be happy.

    • 0 avatar

      The world did pick one. For some inexplicable reason the US just won’t get on board with it.

      We should have metrificated the whole country 50 years ago; at gunpoint if necessary.

  • avatar

    I found 17 articles about VW cheating emissiontests here on TTAC the last 4 days, SEVENTEEN!!!
    Come on, there must other things to write about. No i´m not a VW fanboy.

    • 0 avatar

      They’re one of the largest car manufacturers in the world, and they systemically faked emissions tests for multiple years in a row. Millions of vehicles, vehicles that are roundly considered to be sort of unique in the car world.

      This is one of the most interesting happenings in the automobile world, period. There’s a massive amount of effort and time and money that VW spent to make this occur. This happened at the highest levels, and is damn interesting.

      Keep the articles coming.

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