By on October 5, 2015

01 Volkswagen Jetta

According to Reuters, Volkswagen may have suspended engineers — including top engineers for Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche — without any evidence.

According to the report, more than 10 engineers were suspended in the fallout after it became clear the automaker cheated its way through emissions tests in the U.S. and Europe. It’s not clear if the suspended engineers would be reinstated at the company.

Reuters reported that VW’s internal investigation revealed that the illegal “defeat devices” began appearing in cars around 2008 after engineers discovered that their engine, which was costly to produce, wouldn’t pass emissions tests.

Volkswagen’s advisory board is expected to meet Wednesday, the same day German authorities told the automaker to submit their proposed fix for the illegal engines.

Bloomberg reported that the fixes for the cars could range from inexpensive ECU reprogramming to replacement cars. Different regulations could dictate how significant the fix would need to be.

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29 Comments on “Volkswagen Hasn’t Found Their Fall Guys (or Gals) Yet...”

  • avatar

    We blame the gun rather than the shooter.

    I blame the overzealous regulators rather than the cheaters.

    A group of unproductive middlemen pontificating about how to pilfer just a little more – for their own pockets and special interests. Justifying their nefarious acts by feeding red meat to a bunch of vegetarian Malthusian Luddites.

    • 0 avatar

      BTSR, I’m no fan of the regulatory state, and I think the EPA and much of the executive branch acts unlawfully, but in this case, VW is guilty of at least two black letter violations of the Clean Air Act, which, as amended, says that anything that changes the operation of the emissions control system must be documented and reported to the EPA. Furthermore, defeat devices are specifically banned.

    • 0 avatar

      This is the most uneducated thing I’ve ever read on this site. Move to Beijing if you want to see what America would look like without the “unproductive” environmental legislators.

      The reason this is a big deal is because Volkswagen deliberately lied on a very explicit, cut-and-dried test that represents the standard for American automobile pollution. That was entirely their decision.

      The beauty of facts is that you can’t dismiss them with ignorantly-formed opinions. Objectively measured, Volkswagen’s additional emissions since 2008 can be attributed to roughly 108 premature deaths.

      If you’d like to be another premature death statistic, you go ahead, but when we have a very well-established standards in place, we better make sure people follow them, or else there will be no legitimacy to them whatsoever. America is a very different place than it would be if the environmental revolution of the 1960s-70s didn’t happen.


      • 0 avatar

        Hi, you’re new, aren’t you? Welcome! Here’s a tip: Don’t bother trying to correct BTSR. He is blind to facts and will attack the source of any figures. Belittling him does nothing either.

        • 0 avatar

          I just had to let that out lol. I’m not new here, I just don’t comment often. I studied environmental planning for undergrad and am a current urban/regional planning student.

          I’m actually a huge proponent of diesel but I’m very upset that VW has given another reason for US consumers to shun diesels.

          • 0 avatar
            Dirk Stigler

            Please don’t develop tunnel vision like so many of the people I went to grad school with. You don’t want to be a transportation planner facing a roomful of people wondering why you think it’s perfectly fine to charge $400/month in tolls on a major commuting route, and won’t take “that’s what the model says will get us to 45mph+” as an answer.

            I like the driving characteristics of diesels and I won’t tell anyone what they should spend their own money on, but they really are a) dirtier and b) cost enough more upfront that the mpg savings can’t make up for it in any typical ownership scenario (I realize there are some un-typical ones out there). Same for hybrids.

            I am glad that there are starting to be a lot of younger, enthusiastic people in government nowadays, but the fanboyism for things like hybrids, HOT lanes etc and lack of understanding of the economic realities of regular people is making BTSR a lot more right than he should be about the effects of regulation.

          • 0 avatar

            “A group of unproductive middlemen pontificating about how to pilfer just a little more”

            You mean like mortgage brokers?

          • 0 avatar

            “You mean like mortgage brokers?”

            Boom goes the dynamite!

    • 0 avatar
      87 Morgan

      @BTSR who exactly pilfered a little more?

      All the manufacturers had the same set of rules. Some were able to get compliant (MB, BMW, GM) and two did not (VW & Mazda) that I am aware of. Of the two that failed to pass muster one behaved honorably and one did not. Why is this so hard to get? Giving VW a pass on this is an absolute slap in the face to Mazda who made it very clear they wanted to bring their diesels to the US but as of yet were unable to meet emissions. In fact, they probably are as big a loser in this debacle as the take rate for diesel will most likely drop and the R&D dollars they have spent will end up being a write off.

      There are plenty of place left on the planet that have lax regulations for any number of or in fact just about all issues. You are free to pick up stakes and relocate to one of these fine locales and live the regulation free utopian lifestyle you yearn for.

  • avatar

    How about start with the 2 guys who headed VW powertrain development (including TDI) the last 10 years, Neuber and Hatz.

    1. Dr. Heinz-Jakob NeuBer holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering and began his career as an engine developer in 1986. He joined Porsche’s engine development unit as a project manager in 1996, taking charge of engine construction in 1998 and drivetrain development in 2001. Neuber assumed responsibility for powertrain development at the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand in 2011.

    or prior to him.

    2. Wolfgang Hatz began his career as a project manager for motorsport at BMW in 1983. Having held various senior posts at companies such as Porsche, Opel and Fiat, the mechanical engineering graduate joined the Volkswagen Group in 2001. He initially led drivetrain development at Audi and was subsequently given responsibility for powertrain development at the Volkswagen Group in 2007. Hatz was also appointed member of the Porsche AG Board of Management in charge of Research and Development in 2011.

    • 0 avatar
      johnny ro

      Good start.

      Whoever Green Lighted saying no to Bluetec. Then count backwards down the line to stop at non-decision makers. Then count forward again to who knew what the Green Light meant and why.

      Voting yes without knowing the bad stuff is probably organizational negligence but not active participation.

      An extreme decision that Green Light, one for the car-buff history books.

      Pintos were worse but we all knew Ford $#%’d real bad then.

  • avatar

    Yup, they spent a fortune on an engine that didn’t meet targets. I’m going with a lot more folks knew than the few engineers who will walk the plank for this.

  • avatar

    Other companies sell diesels in Europe. Do they make better (i.e., compliant) engines? If so, license their technology. Wait, I guess it’d be unbearably humiliating to have a Renault engine in a VW.

    • 0 avatar

      They actually already had a licensing deal ready with Mercedes but then backed out of the deal shortly after Winterkorn became CEO. Their previous CEO had come over from Mercedes so he was a big fan of licensing AdBlue.

    • 0 avatar

      European standards are not as difficult as US standards. So it is quite possible to build an engine that is legal for the EU but not legal for the US.

      If the news has been accurate, then it would seem that the software cheat was designed specifically for the EPA test cycle and US/CARB limits.

      • 0 avatar

        “European standards are not as difficult as US standards. So it is quite possible to build an engine that is legal for the EU but not legal for the US.”

        That’s what other commenters on various auto websites are saying. The VW engines are fine for use in other parts of the world but not for the US since it does Not meet strict(er) US standards and considering that many countries has their own standards (that are lower than the US standards).

        For example…
        VW could sell these diesel vehicles in China which doesn’t have any auto emissions standards and no one would know or care. It’ll create more of an environmental issue and health issue for China, though, not that it cares much considering how polluted that country is.

  • avatar

    It’s about accountability,and it seems to always gets put on a helpless soul or souls. This really isn’t as big a deal as the fact that these standards aren’t being regulated correctly. And they aren’t even great standards to begin with. I would rather see VW come up with a plan that actually helps cafe,carb,epa, to actually do their jobs. Also a plan to actually prevent emissions. There are many “holes” in these rules that aren’t understood unless you know what all the numbers mean. VW should be put in charge of coming up with a plan for change in the whole system and implementing it. They save face when the plan come to fruition and it will cost them more than any fine will. Win win!

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      balreadysaid, Volkswagen didn’t simply exploit ambiguity and loopholes in the regulations to get marginally better results. They sold cars that used different engine control settings during the emissions test than those cars use on the highway to get an order of magnitude better results. They also attempted to hide what they were doing. I’ve exploited ambiguity and loopholes in regulations (FCC, not EPA) and got away with it by disclosing upfront before certification what I did.

  • avatar

    Where is Oswald when you need him?

    • 0 avatar

      Bertel is enroute.

      His Bundesnachrichtdienst conditioning having been activated by a female koanchosa-cho agent whose mild case of Syndrome X has maintained her 11 year-old’s appearance, Bertel’s deep cover in the auto industry and familiarity with VW’s internal structuring were deemed ideal for the assignment.

  • avatar

    VW will keep the investigation going and then quietly let it die. This was a corporate decision, not some rogue engineer. They hoped they would not be caught.

    Or it will be determined that the entire problem was human error. The issue was due to a test program that was accidentally incorporated into the software design on the cars.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve been wondering if the whole thing turns out to be human error, with the Bosch test software accidentally ported onto the production server, so to speak. In any big organization, miscommunications and screwups can occur, and when a problem is discovered, people have plenty of career motivation to sweep it under the rug.

      I’d feel a little better if it turned out VW was basically just Initech from Office Space.

  • avatar

    Biggest tragedy in all this VW kerfuffle is that they make some damned handsome cars.

    Who wouldn’t want that nice sedan in the photo to sit in their driveway? Especially in an actual color like their gorgeous deep blue?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “more than 10 engineers were suspended”


  • avatar

    Maybe they should hire OJ to find the real killers, I mean culprits.

  • avatar

    The guy that led the team that found the problem was Colombian. El Tiempo is proud that one of their countrymen “put Volkswagen on the ropes”.

    • 0 avatar

      Los colombianos no son idiotas. Y son muy amables tambien.

      As to the suspension of engineers without proof, there used to be a document that floated around sub rosa in project management circles, titled something like the seven stages of project management.

      It began with wild-eyed enthusiam, and finished off with search for the guilty; punishment of the innocent; and promotion of the non-participants. Sounds like they are two thirds of the way through these last three steps at VW, and are getting ready to pull the trigger on the final step.

      I don’t know what I did with my copy of the full list. Maybe another of the B&B (if I dare to call myself one of them) might be able to post the entire list.

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