By on January 19, 2016

A Dutch journalist said Opel dealers are secretly updating emissions control software to bring into compliance cars equipped with the 1.6-liter diesel engine, disguising the fix as an unrelated software update.

Opel issued a statement strongly denying that it was changing emissions of its cars.

Dutch news site VRT News said it tested two cars with and without the updates and said emissions of nitrogen oxides were significantly reduced — more than half in one car and by three-quarters in another car.

In its report, VRT News said that dealers were initially acknowledging that the update was because of the over-polluting engine. In later footage, taken with a hidden camera, dealers said the update had nothing to do with emissions.

The 1.6-liter diesel engine in the Zafira has been repeatedly targeted by environmental groups as being particularly dirty.

Last 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.

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34 Comments on “Report: Opel Secretly ‘Fixed’ Cheating Zafira Diesels...”

  • avatar

    One thing that the media glosses over is why they had the ‘dirty’ firmware in the first place.

    Surely if the ‘fix’ is so easy then the difference would be apparent… ie. the ‘fixed’ car would have much worse economy/driveability or does it just remove the ‘test’ mode function?

  • avatar

    Is “Dieselgate” much bigger than VW, as some previously suggested?

    Are/have many more manufacturers and even suppliers inserting/inserted malware code in vehicle engine ECU to fool both U.S. & EU (and maybe other nations’/regions’) emission regulation standards?

    Is Dieselgate about to get much bigger, with many more manufacturers and suppliers implicated?

    Stay tuned….

    The SH!T might be gettin’ REAL, yo!

  • avatar

    I can’t decide on the right response:

    a) You don’t need TO CHEAT to get the MOST OUT of A HEMI.


    b) If they had just Trifecta tuned those engines they would have more torque than a Cummins and less emissions than a Prius.

  • avatar

    Well there’s the other shoe dropping. I don’t want it to. The industry is doing really well right now, we’re seeing a roll out of some very interesting in car technology and the wider adoption of turbocharged engines. I want every available penny put towards qc and further r&d.

    I also don’t want momentum building towards tightening of gasoline emission standards. We’re adding plenty of cost to cars right now as is with sensor studded bumpers and first generation turbos.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree the financial penalties should go toward better auto tech rather than pad the governments bank accounts.

      The question will be what tech should the money be used to enhance and who decides?

      I reflect on auto commentary in the past that electric vehicles are not really necessary since the efficiency of internal combustion engines just keeps getting better and better. Now we know that cars only got better through a dose of cheating. Maybe the money should in part go to accelerating the production and adoption of affordable and functional BEV’s that are clearly more energy efficient and do not pollute where they are driven.

      • 0 avatar

        “I agree the financial penalties should go toward better auto tech rather than pad the governments bank accounts.”

        Sage observation, yet padding the governments bank accounts is exactly what will make all this go away.

        Once fined/bribed we shall hear no more of this, just like we didn’t hear any more about the trumped-up charges re Toyota’s unintended acceleration, even though other OEM’s used the same CTS gas pedals.

        • 0 avatar

          Beyond just another anti-government screed, what is wrong with lawbreaking being met by penalties?

          • 0 avatar

            tonycd, there’s nothing wrong with it because ALL automakers play this game.

            And if they get caught breaking laws and mandates, no big deal.

            That’s why they have “Loss Management” analysts in every company:

            To see what is cheaper, i.e. paying off hard to proof claims or saving 50-cents on each and every ignition switch times millions, as an example.

            Hyundai/Kia got bagged for exaggerating their mpg claims. The irony was that other automakers had done the same, but the legal action was targeted and initiated against Hyundai/Kia.

  • avatar

    If you want dirty, polluting diesel cleaned up. Tell the U.S. government to hit the shipping industry with IATA-style regulations.

  • avatar

    I’m sure it is just a misunderstanding, GM also had difficulty in understanding the question.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My son’s 11 Sonata had an emissions-related firmware update some time ago.

    Is every update now suspect?

    • 0 avatar

      Yes. Do you remember a few years back when MSFT was releasing bad patches on a regular basis? Welcome to this in your motoring. The internet allows a deviation from a culture of heavy testing and standardization on shipped ver ABC to oh screw it we’ll just release XXX hotfixes as we go!

      • 0 avatar

        You are answering a different question to what was asked.

        There was no quality issue with the VW defeat software, it worked great if your goal was to deceive.

        The question Aux to Sce is asking is are we to doubt the motives of the car manufacturers when they make a software change to emissions systems.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          @JPWhite: I just discovered your blog, and wish I had seen it while I was a Leaf driver. LeafSpyPro is an excellent tool, but I only had it for the last 6 months of my lease.

          • 0 avatar

            SCE to AUX, so what happened? Did you not lease another Leaf? What are you driving now?

            I’m sure many readers would like to know why you decided what you decided after your Leaf experience.

            FWIW, I think you should submit an article to the ttac editors that outlined your Leaf-experience over the time you had it. You write well and consistently publish insightful comments.

            I bet a lot of fence-sitters would read it. There’s nothing like a real-life experience to help in the decision-making process.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX


            Thanks (again) for the kind words. I returned the Leaf to Nissan in September when the 3-year lease expired. My comments since then have reflected this, but I don’t expect everyone to follow my car ownership experiences.

            I’m now driving our 09 Sedona, for several reasons – family economics, limited garage space, job uncertainty, and waiting for the Gen 2 EVs to arrive in 2016-7.

            A few other Leaf drivers have appeared here as well, and some of their experiences have been identical to mine, but some have been different. mcs’ Leaf gets much longer range than mine ever did, for example.

          • 0 avatar

            SCE to AUX, thanks for taking the time to enlighten me. I may have missed your comments because I’m not visiting ttac as often as I used to.

            Just too busy with other things like selling guns from my personal collection since we came back from Mexico.

            The demand is beyond belief and all manufacturing forecasts. Prices are through the roof!!!

            I understand about your concerns and worries. Millions of Americans are in the same boat today, maybe even some who voted twice for the current administration in power.

            Sincerely hope all remains well with you.

        • 0 avatar

          Fair enough, I went off on a tangent.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      @28: Yes, I remember that. I also work with a CAD software supplier whose next-gen releases are always filled with bugs (a 20-year trend for them), but…

      @JPWhite: You are correct; I wasn’t clear in my question. Just because Opel issues an update to their diesel software doesn’t mean they were ‘cheating’. It may mean they’re adding margin to the emissions profile, or repairing a mistake, or improving driveability. I’ve been very critical of VW in this mess, but I don’t believe the ‘everybody cheats’ meme regarding diesels.

      Interestingly, the update to my son’s PZEV Sonata was to fix its emissions when the engine was cold – sort of the opposite of VW.

  • avatar

    Aaron pssst: Belgians have their own country. It’s hard I know.

  • avatar

    That’s a darned nice looking car. Too bad GM assumes US buyers won’t support the “compact MPV” format.

    I hate to use Vulpine’s argument but maybe we would buy them if they were here to buy. Gas engined, of course.

    Even though its roof was lowered a while back the Zafira is still a tad over 64″ tall. Old people would smile.

    • 0 avatar

      +1. I think there’s a lot of people out there who have no want or need for ground clearance but would still like a tall vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      “That’s a darned nice looking car. Too bad GM assumes US buyers won’t support the “compact MPV” format.”

      There are quite a number of Opel Safira in my area, brought over by European military people stationed here for several years of training.

      The Opel Safira is about the size of the Mazda5, maybe a wee bit taller.

      While my wife and I were in Germany last summer, one of our relatives who owns a dealership lent us a used Opel Safira to drive around in.

      It was not a bad vehicle and towered over many of the micro-cars on the European roads.

  • avatar


  • avatar
    Bobby Peru

    ahh, not correct the dutch Belgian… that action the guy is referring to is no software update, but the exchange of the controller for the ad-blue-stream. It looks like short after the upcoming VW-scandal Opel set up a fast measure to reduce the nitrogen oxide of his two ad-blue-diesels (begin of measure: november 2nd).
    But that has nothing to do with the defeat-device-issue – the measure didn’t affect the motor controller/management.

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