Volkswagen Still Talking Technicalities in Definition of 'Cheat'

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

Last we heard, Volkswagen’s small loophole that it could technically skate through on the definition of “cheating” in Europe was fairly well closed.

Last week, Volkswagen’s chief in the UK asserted in a letter to British Parliament that the company may not have have technically cheated in Europe.

“Volkswagen accepts that a defeat device was used in the USA in certain models, in the context of the very different regulatory framework and factual circumstances there,” Paul Willis wrote in a December letter ( via New York Times). “However we do not think that it is possible to make the same definitive legal determination in relation to the software that was fitted to those differently configured vehicles in the UK and EU.” (Emphasis ours.)

Holy shit. Really?

The letter is a lengthy response to inquiries made by British officials into the timing, rollout and response by Volkswagen when they admitted that 11 million cars worldwide were fitted with an emissions-test detecting device to reduce nitrous oxide emissions to pass.

In Willis’ own letter, he admits that the cars were fitted with a device to reduce emissions, and that the device was similar to a device used in America that Volkswagen has admitted “cheated” emissions tests over here.

“In very simple terms, the software did amend the NOx characteristics in testing. The vehicle did meet EU5 standards, so it clearly contributed to meeting the EU5 standards in testing,” Willis wrote.

But in further questions, Willis said it was impossible to tell if the cars could meet EU5 emissions standards without using the software because deleting the software would disable the car from running.

Which is like saying, “The cake calls for icing. If I don’t ice the cake, I can’t make it to the next step. So we’ll never know what the cake tastes like without icing because we can’t comprehend a universe without icing.”

Volkswagen’s PR machine rolls on.


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  • Kendahl Kendahl on Jan 27, 2016

    Reminds me of Bill Clinton's quibbling over the definition of "is".

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jan 27, 2016

    Remember the words of North Carolina criminal defense attorney Larry L. Archie: "Just because you did it, doesn't mean you're guilty." What you have to realize is that this is legal posturing. What seems to us to be something innocuous, or even slightly illogical can, in court, be turned into a loophole big enough to sail a cruise ship through. No use trying to figure what the lawyers are saying, through Willis, they're not talking to us.

  • ToolGuy "The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant ride height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII."• I am not sure that ride height means what you think it means.Elaboration: There is some possible disagreement about what "ride height" refers to. Some say ground clearance, some say H point (without calling it that), some say something else. But none of those people would use a number of over 4 feet for a stock Mark anything.Then you go on to use it correctly ("A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics.") so what do I know. Plus, I ended a sentence with a preposition. 🙂
  • ToolGuy The dealer knows best. 🙂
  • ToolGuy Cool.
  • ToolGuy This truck is the perfect size, and the fuel economy is very impressive.-This post sponsored by ExxonMobil
  • ToolGuy If I were Jeep, I would offer a version with better NVH and charge more for it.And then I would offer a version with worse NVH, and charge more for it. (There is an audience for both.)
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