By on December 3, 2015


General Motors on Thursday denied that its own internal testing revealed the Opel Zafira 1.6-liter diesel flouted European emissions and fuel economy standards, Bloomberg reported (via Automotive News).

A German news magazine program, Monitor, said officials at Opel knew its midsize crossover polluted up to 15-percent more carbon dioxide than advertised, and that the automaker knew its fuel claims couldn’t be substantiated. The report also said that separate testing at a Swiss facility showed the Zafira exceeded advertised fuel consumption and emissions by 20 percent.

Or, in other words: Another chapter in the “Everyone Cheated/Just Volkswagen Cheated” saga.

In October, a German environmental group, Deutsche Umwelthilfe (DUH), claimed that the Opel Zafira diesel polluted up to 17 times the Euro 6 limit for nitrogen oxides, which GM denied at the time.

Opel on Thursday stopped short of putting a brick through Monitor’s window:

In our opinion, this kind of coverage is neither objective nor thorough and is only intended to disorient the consumers and damage Opel’s reputation. The TV magazine Monitor has thus apparently allowed itself to be used by the Deutsche Umwelthilfe whose accusations have already been proved false and deceptive on numerous occasions.

In its statement, Opel officials claimed that the advertised CO2 limits were within the 10 percent range allowable in Europe, and that independent testing by the German transportation authority in the spring refuted claims made by the DUH later in the fall.

Opel also denied using software to cheat emissions tests, like someone else you may have heard of.

If substantiated, the charges could levy serious fines for GM in Europe and potentially for Zafira owners too. When Volkswagen admitted in October that its cars produced more CO2 than disclosed to regulators, Volkswagen admitted that would be on the hook for more than $2.1 billion to pay owners’ taxes and official fines — in addition to any criminal penalties that the company could face.

The allegation by the German news magazine is the latest volley against diesel car manufacturers in Europe who’ve consistently claimed that their cars don’t illegally pollute, but conform to test conditions that everyone else on the planet has a hard time replicating.

But I’m sure the European test mimics real-world conditions, right?

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17 Comments on “Report: General Motors Cheated Fuel Economy, Emissions With Opel Zafira...”

  • avatar

    Looks like the new Terraza to me. Park it up in the garage next to the Cascade Ultra with Jet Dry.

  • avatar

    Not just Opel, but Ford was also caught out by the same magazine. As I posted earlier, the Dieselgate issue will catch a lot of the other manufacturers, cheating on their petrol and diesel engines

    • 0 avatar

      If they would Trifecta Tune their Opels this wouldn’t happen.

      • 0 avatar

        They have about seven manufacturers in Europe, who currently exceed NOx and Co2 levels. More on GM and Ford
        “has also implicated Ford and Opel in its accusations of widespread noncompliance with European emissions legislation, but neither company has yet responded publicly.

        However responses to its requests were published on the DUH website, with Ford denying use of a “so-called defeat device”.

        “Our vehicles and engines – including the highly modern diesel engines – comply with the European low emission,” said the response from Ford (translated from German).

        Opel said that “GM developed software does not have any features that detect whether a vehicle is just in emission test cycles” (also translated from German).

        “Modern Diesel driving is indispensable for the achievement of European climate change objectives.”

        • 0 avatar
          George B

          Robert, there is a difference between violating a written statute and gaming the system. For the 2.0 liter TDI, Volkswagen was caught with a software feature that was explicitly not allowed by the EPA. GM is claiming that they stayed within the “error” tolerated in testing with no special “defeat device” test mode. Regulators may change future test procedures to prevent some of the current games manufacturers play. However, if the manufacture reveals what they’ve done to meet a requirement, other units of that model also pass the test, and the regulator signs off on the result, then the certification is generally legal.

      • 0 avatar

        Opel obviously never clicked on that internet ad that demonstrates that “one weird trick to eliminate emissions, improve fuel economy and lose 20 lbs.”

  • avatar

    Agent Smith “Do you hear that sound, Mr. Anderson (no relations to Roger Smith, wearing suit & dark sunglasses, with train approaching as judged by noise in background)?”

    Agent Smith: “That is the sound of inevitability.”

    As I’ve said before, and will sayeth again, the cheating emissions scandal ACROSS THE ENTIRE INDUSTRY has just begun/been broken as a global story.

    It’s on like Donkey Kong.

    And it won’t be limited to diesels, either.

    (Hence why Japanese automakers never did introduce diesels in any significant % of their passenger vehicles – they could not technically meet emissions standards despite being technically proficient, and did not want to cheat as so many others were doing).

  • avatar

    Even if true, “Up to 15%” has an air plausible deniability about it. Not sure if it is in the same league as VW’s up to 4000% level of cheating. (And if a variability of 10% is allowed, then then “up to 15%” could be a non-issue–if the 15% test is truly an outlier–then the average could be well within the legal limits).

  • avatar

    If they would have added sliding doors no one would have even thought twice.

  • avatar

    Isnt this more of the same info that has been floating around about the Euro testing standards being a joke? I did not read the article but it sounds like this is just more evidence that the automakers were gaming the system to meet testing compliance with conditions that could never be replicated in the real world. That is still different in my book than providing a totally different engine during testing as VW’s defeat software did. I don’t doubt for a second that the euro test results are totally different than real world emissions.

  • avatar

    Once piranhas (or would leeches be a better analogy) get the taste of blood….

    Maaa, look, another kid said a baad word!

  • avatar

    Perceptions of GM will likely cause this to be met with a shrug. When Vinny the loan shark gets caught cheating on his taxes, no one is shocked. When it’s Parson Brown, major scandal.

  • avatar

    The story so far:
    1) DUH tested the Zafira on a 2WD / 4WD dyno and ran the european emissions (NOx) cycle – they claimed. But they didn’t stick to the rules, they switched on headlamps, radio, AC etc. Reason: cheating cheat devices, obviously.

    2) Results:
    2a) on the 2WD dyno, all emissions tests pass
    2b) in 4WD mode, the emissions are far too high
    -> DUH assumed that Opel uses a cheat device that detects 2WD dynos but is blind on the 4WD eye

    3) Opel is mad about it. So they tested a Zafira on a 2WD / 4WD dyno and ran the european emissions (NOx) cycle. But they DID stick to the rules. Headlamps, radio, AC etc. off.
    4) Results:
    4a) on the 2WD dyno, all emissions tests pass
    4b) in 4WD mode, all emissions tests pass
    -> Opel claims: We stick to the rules, we don’t have a cheat device that detects 4WD mode.

    My assumption (highly simplified):
    – IF wheels_spinning = 2 THEN load
    – IF wheels_spinning = 4 ELSE IF {AC; LIGHTS; RADIO}=OFF THEN load
    – IF wheels_spinning = 4 ELSE IF {AC XOR LIGHTS XOR RADIO}=ON THEN load

    DUH was just too sure about the 4WD dyno detection, but I think it’s more complex.
    That’s why DUH’s statement is wrong from a legal point of view, but Opel’s statement is absolutely correct.

    Still, the Zafira’s NOx emissions in real world driving might be – according to the DUH tests – fubar.

    And many other OEMs seem to have similar problems (or strategies).

    But one might assume that regulators in Europe have a gentlemen’s agreement with the OEMs that says “Dear OEM, as long as you help us with good CO2 figures on paper, we will never check the NOx emissions.”

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