By on September 29, 2015

 

New Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller told about 1,000 high-level managers Monday that the company had a “comprehensive” fix for its cars, and that the solution would be forthcoming.

“We are facing a long trudge and a lot of hard work,” Müller said, according to Reuters.”We will only be able to make progress in steps and there will be setbacks.”

Müller said the company would ask consumers “in the next few days” to bring their cars in to be refitted. It’s unclear if the recall program would be a software or ECU fix, or if it would include a selective catalytic reduction system (urea or AdBlue) to bring the diesel Volkswagens down to a legal emissions level.

Volkswagen faces an Oct. 7 deadline by the German federal transportation authority to present a plan to bring its cars up to compliance or be banned from German roads.

Recalling 11 million cars — 5 million VWs, 2.1 million Audis, 1.2 million Skodas and 1.8 million light commercial vehicles — would be one of the largest roundups in automotive history. Volkswagen set aside $7.3 billion to deal with the scandal last week.

Müller also pointed to VW’s eventual restructuring, according to Reuters. The company may be decentralized and given more autonomy, similar to Porsche and Audi, which are under the same Volkswagen parent group.

After they stop hemorrhaging money, of course.

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62 Comments on “Volkswagen Will Recall, ‘Refit’ 11 Million Cars in Coming Days...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    There are gonna be some seriously pissed VW fanboys after the re-program…

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      I’d be more p!ssed if they have to install a urea/adblue scr. They’d better buy the turkey back at that point.

      • 0 avatar
        jrmason

        Retrofitting with SCR would be the most beneficial course of action for the owner. Better fuel mileage, less EGR which results in cleaner intakes,engine oil (and likely longer OCI), turbos, etc. That being said it will be the most expensive option for VW and likely won’t happen.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          I don’t care. The scr adds needless complexity I didn’t sign up for. Put it on your’s. An scr failure could easily take out the turbo, head gasket, or the engine itself.

          • 0 avatar
            jrmason

            Whoa, some big misunderstandings happening here. You do know that the urea injection happens in the exhaust stream? A chemical is used to do the same thing that previously required obnoxious amounts of EGR and a DOC. SCR is so much cleaner for the engine than any other technology that exists right now. It’s why the trucking industry has embraced it so heavily over the last several years (engine/after treatment longevity and improved fuel economy). When Cummins went to SCR, their service costs were drastically reduced due to the huge reduction in EGR and the post injection event while the exhaust valves were opened that was used to clean the DOC. They were able to cut back on fuel dilution and soot in the oil (reduction in EGR) so much they literally DOUBLED their oil change intervals from 7500 to 15,000 miles. EGR cleaning went from every 67,500 miles to NEVER. Cummins estimated a 10% increase in fuel mileage, with about a 5% increase in HP thanks to a tweak to the ECM.

            There is a reason why all manufacturers are on board with SCR, it is the most practical way to meet emissions and the least intrusive to the engine and all related components, which translates to improved reliability of said components.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            To clarify, I don’t care about the added, ancillary benefits of the scr system. Bottom line, it’s not there for any other reason than it’s the “most reasonable way to meet emissions”.

            If it was on there when I decided to buy the diesel, that’d be one thing. Except I would’ve decide against the purchase if it was there from the start. Without a doubt. Why is that so hard for you to understand?

            I bought my new ’07 Power Stroke diesel truck that’s pre scr emissions, for very good a reason. One of them is for it’s simplicity. The ’08 Super Duty truck was dramatically refreshed too. It was mid 2008 so I had to search dealer’s old stock. The maximum piled on rebates and further negotiated saving were the added, ancillary benefits.

          • 0 avatar
            jrmason

            “An scr failure could easily take out the turbo, head gasket, or the engine itself.”

            That was the only comment I was having a hard time understanding. But now that you’ve confessed to being a 6.0 owner I understand clearly.

            Your argument is irrelevant to this discussion. Your truck is perfectly legal the way it is and is not required to meet the latest standards. Nobody in their right mind would want to slap on a $10k aftertreatment system on a pre emission engine. That’s not what this discussion is about. It’s about upgrading a system that is already in place and mandated. When SCR has been PROVEN to cut NOX by 80% AND improves fuel mileage AND increases service intervals over an identical engine with a DPF only, its hard to comprehend why anybody would be so against it.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            It hardly matters the specific diesel. If my state required a scr retrofit on my TDI, Iet’s say it wouldn’t happen. The scr retrofit may be designed for the TDI, but the pre scr TDI wasn’t designed for the scr. When the retrofit is working great, good. But when the it fails, things go really bad in hurry! I simply want no part of a scr diesel. If you do then enjoy.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Over/under on the cure being worse than the disease?

  • avatar
    WhiskeyRiver

    Here’s my problem with this fix. It does nothing to make the owners whole again financially.

    These cars are going to have the resale value of a Yugo.

  • avatar
    sooperedd

    What a mess for the owners. If they get the re-flash MPGs and performance are sure to go down compelling the owners to demand VW to make them whole through litigation. If they don’t get the re-flash the DMVs may not allow a new registration.

    As an owner of a Prius I had wondered how VW and TDIs were able to get such high MPGs; it just seemed impossible. But now I know.

  • avatar
    1998redwagon

    you and about 11 million others of us……

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    If they intend to fix the problem quickly, it will have to be in software. Make the engine think it’s always in cheater test mode. However, it will take far longer than a few days. If a “few” means eleven, that would require them to reprogram a million cars a day. Not possible. Tesla might be able to do it via the internet. Not the VW dealer network.

    A mechanical solution (urea injection) would take months to engineer for this engine and certify. Installation on so many cars would take years and the various governments won’t be that patient. Cost to VW would be in the tens of billions of dollars.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      It seems that they will announce a plan soon. Implementation will take far longer.

      I expect there will be multiple different solutions depending on which engine version it is, in which car, and in which country.

    • 0 avatar
      Thinkin...

      This. The fix will undoubtedly be software, and it’ll result in insignificant losses to power and efficiency that VW will take on the chin.

      Everyone around here wants VW to be forced to rebuild the entire emissions system and see drastic changes – half the power and mileage. It makes for a neat story, but it’s just not going to be that dramatic.

      I mean come on – these cars are ALREADY 100% compliant when in “test mode” so the only question is what the impact of the software change will be. I’d be shocked it it resulted in a change of more than 2-3 mpg and/or 5% power reduction. (Thus, essentially unnoticeable in driving performance, and VW will pay for the difference in fuel costs.)

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAHAAAAA!

    This is HILARIOUS!

    And HILARIOUSLY DECEPTIVE!

    Wait and watch “fixed” and retrofitted vehicles suffer significantly reduced power, performance, and experience catastrophic reliability issues with motors, catalytic converters, other exhaust components, and with many other systems, also (including electronics, a VAG pillar of reliability).

    VAG just made their problems so much worse.

    They really should have bought back and resold all 11 million vehicles in developing markets or crushed them.

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Can you say clogged EGR valve & intake manifold?

      This was a problem with the earlier TDis as well – my 1996 1Z 1.9l motor had 75% blockage of the intake when I cleaned it out at 180K miles.

      Also more likely to happen after the ‘fix’: more rapid clogging of the DPF AKA soot trap. When you lower combustion temperatures to lessen the NOx, you increase the soot. Then, in order to clean out or ‘regenerate’ the soot trap, more fuel has to be burned, which lowers your fuel economy.

      There is no free lunch.

      • 0 avatar

        This:

        The 335d folks (pity too, I LOVED the M Sport version I drove) are suffering from carbon build up of the intake manifold and head. Repairs are close to five figures. The same engines in Europe don’t appear to have this issue.

        Likewise, the CJAA engines don’t have too much carbon buildup. I don’t want a fix that will choke the motor in 50k like the 335d.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The “fix” will likely be a compromise that the regulators can tolerate in conjunction with a whopping penalty. It probably won’t alter the cars’ performance or do much to reduce their emissions.

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      I don’t know that I agree ithyou out here. I am thinking CARB alone will want assurances along with independent toting the cars are clean.

      As for long term consequences? If the fix is a quick reflash which would most entail the car running in dyno mode all the time fuel economy will drastically worsen along with I would speculate a drastic decrease in engine life span. I guess we get to see how much heat the Pistons can take for a prolonged period of time.

      I suspect, the quick fix is the reflash. I am also certain VAG is setting aside another large chunk of dough for warranty work and what not for engines that go bad. This in the end is the cheapest way to go, as many of the affected cars are already out of power train warranty AND customer goodwill towards the brand is already at an al time low….so let the owners eat the cost of a new motor when and if it goes south or at least a healthy portion of it.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The EPA/CARB announcement was not made out of the blue. You can bet that there was already a plan in place at the time of the announcement that everyone could live with.

        This is not like getting a traffic ticket, with the court telling you what you are going to do and when you are going to do it. For matters involving vehicle recalls, these matters are negotiated and many of the points are worked out before the public is notified.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        87 Morgan, a software change to reduce NOx tend to run the engine cooler with a richer air/fuel ratio. Bad for fuel economy and carbon deposits, but I wouldn’t expect more heat at the pistons. OTOH, the catalytic converter may have to work considerably harder.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        ” I guess we get to see how much heat the Pistons can take for a prolonged period of time.”

        Given that NOx is a product of high combustion temps, it’s more likely that a reflash will make the cars run richer, and thus cooler.

    • 0 avatar
      Whittaker

      If the fix doesn’t do much to reduce emissions the whole exercise becomes insincere…really nothing more than a money transfer.
      Clean air would be just a pretext.

      Dirty air + Lined Pockets > Clean Air

      Sounds about right.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        High penalty + Public shaming = Deterrent to other automakers

        • 0 avatar
          alluster

          “High penalty + Public shaming = Deterrent to other automakers”

          Hah. That always works /sarcasm.

          If they sold $30B more in cars by lying and they only end up losing $15B for fines + recall costs + lawsuit settlements then they still come out ahead.

          Hyundai/Kia knew the consequences of overstating MPGs. The fines and lost consumer trust is greater than the market share and sales boost gained through deception.

          GM could have fixed the ignition issue in 2008 for a fraction of the cost and fewer people killed. A massive safety recall in 2008 would have killed the company financially and people were less trusting of GM to keep buying vehicles not affected. A bailout wouldn’t have happened either if the public knew 100+ people lost their lives. They waited until GM was financially strong enough plus a better reputation for newer cars to live through.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            Which is why the penalty needs to be crushingly expensive in order for a deterrent to work.

            What are the downsides of a urea system? The fluid itself is cheap. Seems to be the way to clean the exhaust with no penalty, at least if it is designed in from the start…

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I suspect that for VW, the problem was that it was not inclined to make a US-only version of the motor with a urea system.

            My guess is that the engineers were instructed to make a US-spec motor that was similar as possible to the European engine. But the difference in NOx that was allowed under Euro 5 was so much higher than what is permitted under US EPA Tier 2 Bin 5 that the urea system could be easily avoided in Europe. So the cost of the US motor was not just the equipment, but the extra R&D, tooling, etc.

            Ironically, this wouldn’t be an issue if the Europeans had NOx standards that were as stringent as the US. But with the US being so much stricter, it was tempting to find a cheaper solution that has proven in the long run to be anything but cheap.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Not sure what the fix will be but does the fix also reset the clock on the emissions warranty and the power train warranty ? I not sure how quickly VW can do anything unless it is just a re flash and it would be nice to see them guess what the long term effects will be.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I’m guessing this will happen in phases and not by design.

    I’m going to guess because this is coming out so fast it’s a software fix. But many people who know more about diesel than I do that a pure software fix will cause a new set of a problems.

    That’s when I think VW will be forced to do a second round of more radical fixes.

    Pop your popcorn and melt the butter.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    From what I have read newer TDI models (late 2014/2015) have the urea injection system. So a re-flash may be able to clean up the exhaust emissions of those cars.
    What about the older models without the urea injection system?

  • avatar
    lon888

    As a 2012 GTI owner, I’m keeping my fingers crossed this whole mess doesn’t spill over into the gas-engined cars. If it does VW’s going to have to turn out the lights – the small party is over.

  • avatar
    gasser

    My understanding is that the more recent models have a smog system wherein the computer could be reflashed to control emissions. The older TDIs are going to need something more in the way of hardware. This would entail redesign, testing, tweaking, retesting for both compliance and longevity, manufacture of millions of kits and then installation. Plus ensuing warranty for (in California) 100,000 miles with ongoing repair for failure.
    Even with Tinkerbelle, the Shoemaker’s elves and a unicorn, it can’t be done in fewer than years. During this time smog continues, people try to sell or trade cars, dealers languish with used diesel stock on hand.
    This will provide employment for generations of attorneys yet unborn.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Whatever “fix” VW comes up with will have to be approved by EPA and CARB first, and they will certainly be giving it intense scrutiny before greenlighting anything. Even a quickie ECU reflash is unlikely to be implemented before the end of the year.

  • avatar
    Tstag

    2 other big issues for VW:

    1 – Competitors will demand compensation for creating unfair competition
    2 – VWs credit rating will take a beating so their finance arm may struggle as the cost of the loan to the consumer could drop below the cost of the loan to VW

    Firesale of VW assets anyone?

  • avatar
    alluster

    Looks like the Colorado/Canyon diesels will be the first victim(s) of this giant screw up. EPA and CARB will not certify the midsize diesels unless GM proves emissions comply in the real world, not just in a lab. Best case scenario – launch delayed by a few weeks or months. Worst case scenario – The trucks fail real world emissions test and are canned indefinitely.

    The 2016 Chevy Silverado, the second most popular vehicle in America, one that outsells the entire VW group is the second victim, completely overshadowed by the VW scandal.

    http://www.autoblog.com/2015/09/24/2016-chevy-silverado-official/#slide-3635606

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      “Worst case scenario – The trucks fail real world emissions test and are canned indefinitely.”

      If the Colorado diesel does fail emissions tests, then being cancelled isn’t a worse-case. The worse case is if they allowed it to be sold anyway.

  • avatar
    Roberto Esponja

    Jeez, do they have to keep on using that pic for VW-related articles? That plant is just about as ugly as it gets…

  • avatar
    wiggles

    So they can fix it for just $636 a vehicle? That’s just a couple of parts, certainly not a full urea injection system.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      11M vehicles have ECU software that includes the “EPA test mode”. Not all are affected. The 11M is the upper bound, but VW has not yet given an estimate of how many of the 11M are actually exceeding the pollution regulations.

  • avatar
    Von

    “about 1,000 high-level managers”

    I know it’s a big company and all, but they are selling one primary product type, consumer grade vehicles. I guess it’s how they define it, but to me, having 1,000 high level managers is completely nuts.

    To give a comparison, one of the companies I worked for, has 4 completely different business areas selling completely unrelated products classes, each with dozens of product lines and hundreds of individual products (and that’s not counting spare parts, of course), and there are maybe two dozen people that are actually “high-level”. The rest are middle manager.

    It would offer a pretty good insight into the company’s structure if we know how VW is organized. At face value, this makes VW look even worse.

    • 0 avatar
      VCplayer

      Eh, I’m not sure you can make a comparison. The auto business is crazy complicated compared to nearly any other consumer product. As many companies and divisions as VW has, 1,000 high level managers might be necessary.

      I’ve also never heard anyone complain about VW having too much management. Stubborn and conservative in their approach is a pretty constant criticism though.

      VW to me has always seemed like what GM would have been if they’d had competent management through the past ~30 years. Minus this current nonsense of course.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      VW is a bloated pig of a company (the General Motors of Europe), highly inefficient, extremely bureaucratic, dreadfully rigid, and slow to react to market forces.

      Bertel Schmidt once worked there, too (that, alone, is damning).

  • avatar
    GermanReliabilityMyth

    Poor Müller. He got saddled with a huge albatross hatched by Winterkorn. It’s like having two kids and one is playing quietly in their room while the other breaks a lamp on the other side of the house. Then the parent makes the first kid minding their Ps and Qs clean up the other’s mess after being sent to time out. I understand why a regime change would be ideal as soon as possible, but executives that create a crapstorm should have to clean up their own mess. It almost seems like a mercy to release them right away.

  • avatar
    AtomB

    That factory needs more flying pig.

  • avatar
    EAF

    I’m watching a movie on FX and a “Truth in Engineering” Audi commercial came on, hahaha hilarious!!! I had forgotten about this iconic and now ironic slogan. :-)

  • avatar
    RHD

    If VW can repair 3000 cars per day, it will still take over 10 years (working 7 days a week without holidays) to fix them all.
    Most likely they will be just writing a bunch of checks. Maybe they will offer VERY generous trade allowances…

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      The fix VW has thus far proposed (very quickly) is a disingenuous attempt to pacify regulators at home (in VW’s corporate house and in Germany) and abroad, another only true method of getting NOx emissions down to acceptable, mandated levels in real world driving is through the use of urea injection (DEF) plus probably some additional HARDWARE modifications.

      I’m amazed that so many apparently believe an ECU reflash could possibly suffice to significantly reduce excessive emissions, let alone do so without severely compromising driveability, performance and reliability/durability of major components.

      Ultimately, if regulators are competent and serious in seeing the affected vehicles pass current emissions standards, VW’s path of least resistance economically and politically will be to buy the affected vehicles back, which is going to be exceptionally expensive, but necessary as there is no real “fix” such as is being proposed.

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