By on September 21, 2015

01 Volkswagen Jetta

Volkswagen in Canada will suspend sales of its Volkswagen Passat, Golf, Jetta, Beetle and Audi A3 cars after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the engines in those cars had an illegal device that “cheated” emissions tests.

“We will work with our colleagues at Volkswagen of America as well as our parent company in Germany to resolve this matter in the most timely fashion,” Volkswagen Canada spokesman Thomas Tetzlaff said in a statement.

Audi Canada has also issued a stop-sale of the Audi A3 TDI, stated Audi Canada spokesman Cort Nielson. No details were available regarding Audi’s plan for continued availability of the A3 TDI.

VW hasn’t announced a timeline for fixing its cars and resuming sales. Over the weekend, VW’s CEO Martin Winterkorn apologized for the scandal.

As we’ve detailed before, Volkswagen wasn’t struggling north of the border as mightily as they are in America. VW Canada’s sales volume wasn’t as large as America’s, but its foothold was proportionately better.

The news gets worse: VW may take a hit from slowed U.S. and Canadian sales, government penalties, record stock drops (and potential investor lawsuits stemming from the losses) and potentially one of the most expensive recalls in history.

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60 Comments on “VW, Audi in Canada Halting Sales of TDI Cars Following US Inquiry...”


  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Mark, have the last 2 days been as good for page views and comment submissions as it seems?

    For car websites, VW anti-fans, anyone with an opinion on diesels, and those who enjoy watching or participating in political fisticuffs online, this is the story that keeps on giving.

  • avatar
    VCplayer

    What a disaster. Immense damage done to a brand that was already struggling to gain a solid marketshare in the North American market.

    Even if the problem turns out to be a relatively easy one to fix (probably not), VW’s allure to counter-culturlists that remember the Bug as a symbol of the 60s is going to take a huge hit.

    Audi will still sell a ton of pricey cars though, so they have that.

    • 0 avatar

      Now you see why American industry is struggling so badly.

      The game is rigged.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        “The game is rigged.”

        Was that a new revelation?

      • 0 avatar

        BTSR, I usually find you amusing and only partially agree on the fringe, but a big hit of the US industry that seems never to get press is emissions. While not the only factor by any means, the US automakers had to develop emissions completely independently by law (other than AMC) while most other nations companies worked together, or got government money or both.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          The US automakers did not develop their emissions systems completely independently. There were many suppliers that were working on different products from the beginning.

          One of the big players early on was GM’s Rochester Products division who supplied lots of emissions components to the other 4 US automakers and a few foreign ones too.

          EGR Valves, Charcoal Cannisters, Temp Vac SW, Emissions Soleniods, PCV valves, Catalytic Converters were all sold to anyone that wanted them.

          Part of that was because at the time GM was seen as a target for being broken up due to antitrust concerns since they had ~50% of the US market. So selling those components to the others was seen as proof that GM shouldn’t be broken up.

      • 0 avatar
        PCP

        The game is rigged but only the others cheat? Yeah right…

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      Well, the problem will actually be quite easy to fix (an ECU re-flash will clear it right up; shouldn’t take more than a few days to produce.) However, the stop-sale will remain in place until new certification tests can be run; that’ll take a while.

      It is fully expected that fuel economy and power will both drop markedly, which is gonna hurt.

      • 0 avatar
        VCplayer

        Yeah, removing the defeat device is easy. I think though that they will have to add some sort of new filtration device to the engine before it can conform to standards.

        That will also involve a recall of existing vehicles, so it has to be engineered to do that as well.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          It will all be in a reflash. This is what VW did.

          “The algorithm used information about how the car was being steered, how long the engine ran and atmospheric pressure to “precisely track” the conditions that corresponded to a federal emissions test, according to the EPA.”

          Which is why it showed up when the group that uncovered it did their testing. They tested it in the real world under a much wider set of conditions.

          If it wasn’t being operated in the exact conditions used in the FTP they did not implement the full emissions control strategy.

          So they just have to put in code that implements the full strategy all of the time.

          The vehicle will still run but it likely won’t make as much power and will almost certainly have lower MPG.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            The question is just how bad the drops in power (or drivability) and mpg will be. There will be a class-action lawsuit, and that will determine how much money per car VW has to pay out for the settlement.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        If the TDIs could run on “test mode” from then on, yeah it would be simple. Just re-flash and go. But if they could run on that without a problem, they already would. But was the ECU showing an impossible and completely fake panorama? Like what Wile E. Coyote puts up to fool The Road Runner??

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          My intuition is that “test mode” probably han just enough power to accelerate to spec in the EPA test cycle.

          If that’s true, then they probably will need to retrofit some hardware in order to make the car drivable.

        • 0 avatar
          Scoutdude

          They can certainly run on the full emissions mode all of the time there will just be at the cost of less power and lower MPG. They will also probably be more likely to have problems with the emissions components now that they are being used fully all of the time.

          The computer isn’t lying to the OBD II port and painting a false picture. The OBD testing just verifies that the components have passed their tests. They can certainly run an EGR test even if the EGR valve isn’t actually used that frequently.

      • 0 avatar
        Sky_Render

        How do you know it will be easy to fix? Every other manufacturer uses exhaust treatment on their diesels to pass emissions. If it was only a issue, no one would be using after-treatments.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    How long until DeadWeight copypasta’s another copy of his GM rant into this article too?

  • avatar

    If those cars are sold, the Earth will warm and everything and everyone:

    Dead in 5 years…

  • avatar
    mu_redskin

    Too soon for the VW in America death watch?

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    And to think I was eyeballing a ’13 VW Jetta TDI wagon (with the 6-speed manual, ‘natch). Glad some others spending priorities came up.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    Has anyone tried visiting the VW website? VWUSA has just vanished – it’s doesn’t even show up in Google results anymore. The main website won’t load at all.

  • avatar
    GermanReliabilityMyth

    I think there’s too much hand-wringing going on over this. A more plausible foretelling of things to come can be read here:

    http://www.businessinsider.com/theres-no-way-volkswagen-is-going-to-pay-the-us-18-billion-in-fines-for-cheating-on-emissions-tests-2015-9

    • 0 avatar
      sirwired

      I think most everybody understands that the EPA isn’t going to fine them for the theoretical max of $18B (These were cars that didn’t even cost that much to begin with; I suspect the max penalty was more directed for diesel 18-wheelers.)

      But the penalty will still not be light, given that VW tried to stall and continue to dance around the problem for a full year after the gig was up.

    • 0 avatar
      carlisimo

      The class-action lawsuit by owners who’ve lost mileage and/or performance and reliability might hurt more than whatever the fine turns out to be. It might only affect owners in CARB states (smog check required for renewing registration) but that’s potentially bad enough.

      • 0 avatar
        brettc

        I’m in a CARB state (Maine) and all that’s required here during the annual state inspection is an OBD readiness test. If the check engine light is on, it fails but that’s it. There is no testing related to registration at the moment. I’m a bad boy and still haven’t gone in to have the 23o6 campaign done on my TDI. Apparently that was the first fix for this problem that wasn’t a problem until Friday.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      It’s not just the fines…they have to fix 500,000 cars here. And then Canada, Europe, China, etc. all start testing the cars there and then they’ll have millions of other cars to fix. None of which will be cheap.

      And even if they do all that, their reputation just got thrown in the trash.

  • avatar
    tylanner

    I don’t know the details of actual the emissions impact but a systematic undermining of federal emission standards is going to be met with an immense fine…probably the maximum when you break it down to a violation per car..maybe even criminal charges.

    BP paid $18.7bn…if the acts are as blatant as reported…VW is going to be slapped hard.

    Me personally, I am waiting for the double bottom VAG stock crash and do some investing…especially with VAG coming to F1.

    It is sad to see the TDI brand die like this…I give the TDI moniker 2 years before VW changes it to “Blu-E-Green something”

  • avatar

    If VW corrects its wrongdoing and pays a hefty fine and if the U.S. will sign the Kyoto Protocol, all environmentalists will be happy.

  • avatar
    VW16v

    VW is probably not the only auto maker turning off Emissions. I can see FCA scrambling to check on their emission standards. think they are second inline for diesel sales.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      My sentiments exactly! While BMW diesels were pronounced to be using the desired method of pollution and emission control, I think VW will be able to rectify this by modding their software codes to super-lean running all the time, and more injection of DEF. There goes the neighborhood!

      The downside will be, I believe, that VW power and acceleration in their diesels will be reduced significantly, making these even bigger dogs than they already are. And if you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.

      I’m amazed that more of these green-weenie eco-friendly squirrel-diesel lovers haven’t spoken up to defend their realm.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        Ford and GM are probably the only auto makers selling diesels in the USA with throughly tested Emissions that meet standards.

      • 0 avatar
        manny_c44

        I have a TDI. Basically I feel there isn’t enough info…very strange that the V6 TDIs can pass but the 2 liter engines can not. Just in terms of smells from the exhaust the car is better than a gasoline car (NO is odorless though). I need to see data to understand what the real problem is, so far it is just antiVAG bile and politics and no data. Does this have something to do with active regeneration of the DPF or certain types of engine load? WOT acceleration up hills? Cruising on the highway? People are airing opinions but the data is withheld.

        In my opinion this is nothing compared to the death-causing GM and Toyota cover ups, those were heinous. I mean, in terms of VAG lying to the US government…*shrug*, it is just a grotesque collection of sophists and nominalists. What does honesty have to do with US politics?

        It seems like emissions have come down 50% in a decade on production diesels, if they can’t match the 70% reduction asked for by the EPA yet due to tech problems I can sympathize. It’s hard to invent things and put them into practice cost effectively. Personally, as long as I can still buy diesel, the ECU is easily remapped if need be. Maybe it will hurt resale– we’ll see.

        • 0 avatar
          carlisimo

          The EPA’s willing to work with companies, though. Navistar was working on a fancy EGR system but it wasn’t ready in time; they asked the EPA and got a waiver for several years to get it working. They weren’t able to make the system work, so they gave up and paid a pre-agreed fine for selling non-compliant engines (and then started selling urea-based systems like most other diesel manufacturers).

          Buyers sued them for the failure, but the EPA’s behavior wasn’t bad.

        • 0 avatar
          VW16v

          I agree the Toyota and GM cover-up was way worse then any Emissions issue. And people still love there Toyotas even as the death toll increased, Sales went up. All perception in auto sales.

          • 0 avatar
            rpn453

            I’m no Toyota owner, but I too love vehicles that selectively kill off only the dumbest members of the driving population.

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      I suspect this is true, though VW might be the only one doing it in the U.S. The initial study that snowballed into discovering VW’s scheme showed most clean diesels in Europe producing far more NOx in actual driving than in testing:

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/report-clean-diesel-nox-levels-exceed-european-us-standards/

      I’m still a bit confused about why 2.0L 4 cylinders would have these issues but the 3.0L V6 TDI engines seem okay. Do the 4 cylinders just not produce enough heat or something?

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The 3.0s all have urea injection AFAIK. With urea injection it’s actually possible to meet the standards without tricks.

        • 0 avatar
          derekson

          Several of the four cylinder models listed have AdBlue as well though. Specifically the 2015 Jetta and Golf models and the 2014-5 Passats all have AdBlue. I believe the 2012-13 Passat did as well but those were the generation 2 EA288 rather than generation 3.

  • avatar
    Nick

    This saves a lot of Canadians from making the terrible mistake of buying a VW.

    • 0 avatar
      takeship

      I can only imagine that the CEAA (Canadian EPA) will be sidling up to VW for some fine money pretty soon as well. As will pretty much every other environmental agency, everywhere, eventually. Unlike some who seem to be downplaying the significance of this to VW, I fully expect that this incident will eventually result in a sale or bankruptcy of VW. At some level it’s an issue of trust, and VW has now openly demonstrated that they are deeply indifferent to the health and well being of their customers & society. The ill will that has already come of this will take generations to repair.

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        I second your sentiments, perhaps not as dire as the brand exiting stage left, but a good old fashioned BK I believe to be imminent. I would not be looking to buy VAG stock anytime soon. This has global ramifications on many levels.

        But then again I could be way wrong and a simple reflash does the trick and off we go to the next automotive drama.

  • avatar
    turboencabulator

    Had a chat with VW Canada and Transport Canada at lunch to learn a bit more. VW Canada of course confirmed the stop sale. It will surprise no one that went no further than saying they are cooperating with the federal agencies. The call centrer never left the official message the higher ups got him to recite. No big surprise there.

    Transport Canada’s lack of teeth did dissapoint. Apparently, in Canada, we have nowhere near the law the Americans have when it comes to forcing recalls. TIL. It would have to be something in the likes of wheels falling off a model that would justify a recall campaign forced by the federal. The agent was actually aware of the high failure rate on VW emissions sensor. Emissions problem beyond odd colored smoke just isn’t in the priorities. Sounds they might slap VW with a few thousand dollars per car, but it’s nothing like the US potential fine. Whether VWAG or VW Canada pays is not defined.

    Personally, I worry how much EGR VW/EPA/CEAA will want to run in the future. VW’s are already VW’s when it comes to reliability. What in the world are they going to have to do to make the car meet the standard with a recall fix? If the emissions fix costs relialibity (what’s left anyway) and long term life, I’m no longer interested. I don’t need more risks than I live with already.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      That result is actually fair, because Canada has far fewer places than the US where the increased NOx emissions will have the potential to significantly worsen air quality-related public health issues. There is no equivalent in Canada to LA or Phoenix or Houston. Calgary comes the closest and isn’t nearly as bad.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        dal20402 – BC lower mainland has some issues. Things aren’t too bad in Vancouver/GVRD because prevailing winds tend to push it up to Agassiz region.

        There are a lot of cities that have issues due to geography. Add temperature inversions that typically occur in the fall and you have very poor air quality.

        I looked it up and the worst region is “Windsor to Quebec City”. Part of that is due to prevailing air currents coming up form the USA.

        Calgary isn’t too bad. Mid pack relative to other Canadian cities.

        http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/magazine/mj00/alacarte.asp

  • avatar
    PCP

    Halting sales is the most stupid thing they could do right now.

    With all them Tea Party, Coal Rollers and Trump followers around, now is the best time ever to sell them cars like hotcakes in Murrica. Just change the ads to something like:

    VW – dirtier than evaaah!

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