Volkswagen, EPA Disagree on 'Defeat Device' in 3-liter Models
Responding to the Environmental Protection Agency’s notification that it had uncovered an illegal “defeat device” in some 3-liter, diesel Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche models, Volkswagen AG said in a statement Monday that it “wishes to emphasize that no software has been installed in the 3-liter V6 diesel power units to alter emissions characteristics in a forbidden manner.”
The statement flies in the face of the EPA’s allegation that a “temperature conditioning” mode in the vehicles’ computers timed exactly to the length of the agency’s 75 initials emissions tests allowed the cars to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by up to 9 times.
In its letter to the automaker, the EPA alleged that deliberate software was installed on the car’s engine control computer, designed to cheat emissions. From the EPA’s letter Monday to Volkswagen (emphasis mine):
VW manufactured and installed software in the electronic control module (ECM) of each vehicle that causes the vehicle to perform differently when the vehicle is being tested for compliance with EPA emission standards than in normal operation and use.
In other words, either Volkswagen doesn’t agree with the EPA, believes its “temperature conditioning” setting — which the EPA said was timed to the second of its tests — coincidentally helped the car achieve lower emissions, or some sleepy lawyers in Lower Saxony haven’t gotten their coffee yet.
Either way, the Volkswagen diesel saga may have gotten a lot more interesting.
VW said in another piece: "no software has been installed in the 3-liter V6 diesel power units to alter emissions characteristics in a forbidden manner." Ah, there is that calculated use of the weasel words "in a forbidden manner". So VW isn't just denying that their software alters emission characteristics, but is trying to say that it does so in a way which is not explicitly forbidden. I said from the get-go that this way of doing things was likely to end up being found to be business-as-usual at VW and not limited to a few rogue engineers on one engine family. The $99B question is: Are there other auto makers at which this is considered standard industry practice as well ????
"I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy." "I shot the sheriff, but I swear it was in self defense."
I have been known to disagree with traffic cops over the speed at which I was traveling. This typically results in an additional ticket for not enough rubber on the tires or something. This is not necessarily right, but it is the world I live in. You can argue about the EPA using bully tactics all you want (IMHO it is a loosing argument...they cheated and got caught), but the EPA is part of the world in which VW operates and to not be doing all they can to appease them at this point is simply bad business.
I think I understand VW's position although I think the obvious intent of the software was to deceive. So I guess the question is, do VW's V6 diesels begin the "cheat mode" when the car is turned on? Or when the car is plugged into test equipment? If it begins when the car is turned on, VW will simply argue this a design element for engine longevity (or some other BS) and that the 1371 seconds is simply coincidence. They have no way of knowing when the test cycle will begin with any particular car after it is actually started. However, if the 1371 seconds is triggered by the car being plugged into emissions equipment, weeeeellll, get out your checkbook VW. At least I think this is the distinction VW is trying to make. Ill conceived given the circumstances.