By on July 14, 2016

Porsche cayenne diesel

California’s Air Resources Board wants nothing to do with Volkswagen’s proposed fix for its 3.0-liter VW, Audi and Porsche TDI models equipped with emissions-cheating defeat devices.

The regulator rejected the automaker’s plan yesterday, and later issued a release calling it “incomplete and deficient in a number of areas.” For Volkswagen, CARB’s rejection is a major setback to its goal of settling the rest of its diesel emissions scandal fallout without another expensive buyback program.

Volkswagen will spend $15.3 million to settle claims and buy back (or fix) 475,000 2.0-liter TDI models in the U.S., but it hoped its 3.0-liters would side-step that fate with a technical fix. Though the scandal affects fewer 3.0-liter vehicles, they’re much more high-end than the smaller displacement models.

Just last month, company representatives stated in court that fixing the 85,000 U.S. vehicles would be easy.

CARB’s decision affects about 16,000 vehicles in California. The bigger problem for the automaker is that any nationwide fix needs approval from both the Environmental Protection Agency and CARB.

In its letter to the company, CARB said the automaker’s submissions are “incomplete, substantially deficient, and fall far short of meeting the legal requirements to return these vehicles to the claimed certified configuration.”

The proposal’s failures were many. Among other issues, it didn’t describe the undisclosed defeat devices on the affected vehicles, failed to estimate the fix’s effect on fuel economy and performance, and didn’t say what emissions levels regulators could expect (or how the vehicle would maintain compliance over time).

Discussions between the automaker, CARB and the EPA continue, but Volkswagen’s dream of wrapping up its U.S. troubles in anything resembling a hurry seems dashed.

[Image: Porsche Cars North America]

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48 Comments on “California Regulator Responds to Volkswagen’s 3.0-Liter Diesel Fix With a Resounding ‘Nope’...”


  • avatar

    PHEV…

    you have no other choice.

  • avatar
    brettc

    I hope they set aside some more funds because it’s looking more like they will have to offer a buyback option for that engine choice.

    By my math, it’s going to cost VW $2.75 billion to buyback the 3.0L vehicles at an average of $35000/each. At $40000, it goes up to $3.4 billion.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I dunno, they already have SCR and all of the other hardware, I don’t see why a fix wouldn’t be feasible. I think it’s the foot-dragging that’s sticking in CARB’s craw. Threatening buy-backs might be their way of making VW get off their arses.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Bybacks of Volkswagens are costly; bybacks of Porsches are embarrassing.

        Nobody will care much when a Golf is crushed, but imagine the YouTube count when a Porsche 3.0 TDI is shredded.

  • avatar
    Paragon

    So CARB is in essence saying: Not so fast there VW…

  • avatar
    twotone

    In test mode, did these vehicles pass emissions? If so, why can’t test mode be set as default?

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      I believe NOx was something like 9 times higher than allowed in non-test/normal mode. I think there might also be an issue with an undersized DPF with these engines as well as they were again built around the cheat, just like the 2.0L engines.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I think what they discovered on the EA288 and 3.0 cars was that after the test interval was over they reduced/stopped DEF dosing. So they probably have a relatively small AdBlue tank and as brettc says the reduction catalyst might not be effective if used properly 100% of the time.

      • 0 avatar
        NomNomChomsky

        My 2011 has been using about 1.2% as much DEF as fuel. Other brand vehicles with similar systems use 3-5%. They will probably have to quadruple the amount of DEF used. Since the tank is sized around the service interval this would mean topping up every 2500 miles, plus likely extra wear on all of the system components.

        • 0 avatar
          jpolicke

          If increased DEF consumption was the only downside, that would be the least of their problems. DEF is probably dirt cheap especially when bought in bulk. They could simply announce “all TDI owners get free DEF for life!” Makes everyone happy and brings them back to the showroom again and again.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      There are other issues like driveability, engine reliability, fuel economy, and inordinate consumption of DEF.

      If it was as simple as changing a line of code, this mess would have cleared up long ago.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        CARB doesn’t care one bit about driveablity, engine reliability or DEF consumption.

        • 0 avatar
          SCE to AUX

          Of course not, but VW does, as does its customer base.

          Merely passing CARB’s requirements is not VW’s only concern.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            It is their primary concern, or at least it should be unless they want a bunch of 3.0 vehicles to crush.

            Fact is that fluid economy and power will suffer by making them emissions compliant all the time instead of just the 4 minutes of the test cycle.

            Remember what got them into the mess in the first place. There were caught and they knew how they were caught. So they just increased the length before the emissions compliance timed out and CARB called their bluff by running the test even longer than they did when they figured it out in the first place.

        • 0 avatar
          NomNomChomsky

          Performance, reliability, efficiency, and driveability were all identified as deficiencies in the Volkswagen plan.

          • 0 avatar
            Scoutdude

            You are reading too much into the recap here. Yes CARB cares about the fuel economy effects since that is regulated via CAFE standards.

            They do not give a rats ass if making the car compliant reduces the car’s useful economic service life (only that it stays compliant for that service life), driveablity or 0-60 time. They are just mentioning that to show the VW is yet again blowing smoke and not doing their due diligence.

          • 0 avatar
            NickS

            It has been reported elsewhere that the proposed fix does not come with enough information to assess the impact on emissions, and fuel economy. Basically the public statements from CARB are that they want to see how they are going to use the existing devices to keep emissions within limits.

            We can only speculate what might be going on behind the scenes, but I am reminded of what sirwired has been saying here for a long time, that VW didn’t do itself any favors by playing stupid with the EPA and CARB for over a year, and then delaying all they could, up to the very last day before going to trial. So, yeah, Mary Nichols isn’t going to roll over and play dead. I don’t think this is a productive strategy for either side but what do you do when someone is playing you?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            “They do not give a rats ass if making the car compliant reduces the car’s useful economic service life (only that it stays compliant for that service life), ”

            yes they do.

            they don’t want to give owners of these vehicles the incentive to refuse to have their vehicles fixed, or to defeat the emissions equipment themselves afterward.

        • 0 avatar
          Erikstrawn

          It’s not their job to care about driveability, engine reliability, or DEF consumption. That’s VW’s job. CARB’s job is to care for air quality, and if VW screwed the customers by trying to cheat CARB, it’s up to the customers to vote with their wallets.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    You spelled billion as million.

  • avatar
    orenwolf

    “The proposal’s failures were many. Among other issues, it didn’t describe the undisclosed defeat devices on the affected vehicles, failed to estimate the fix’s effect on fuel economy and performance, and didn’t say what emissions levels regulators could expect (or how the vehicle would maintain compliance over time).”

    So.. what DID they submit then? Because that’s pretty much the whole request right there. :)

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      A person with “knowledge of the situation” reported that they submitted a stick figure man crying and it was labelled as a guy named Matthias.

      It apparently was drawn on a used McDonald’s napkin since VW can no longer afford paper.

    • 0 avatar
      redliner

      submitted a binder full of free bratwurst and beer coupons at the VW HQ restaurant.

      They obviously underestimated the number of vegans on the board at CARB

    • 0 avatar
      Erikstrawn

      I like a school analogy – VW cheated on the test. Now they’ve been given some make-up homework and they showed up with a wrinkled sheet full of chicken scratch and they forgot to write their name on the top.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    VW may be one of the dumbest companies going.

    Basic elements of a technical presentation include the problem statement, a description of current status, the proposed solution, supporting test data, A-B comparisons, the plan going forward, expected system impacts, and any risks associated with the solution itself or the plan rollout.

    These morons should have known that regulators would ask to see such a presentation. The fact that they failed to do so tells me they’re still in pandemonium, with inept managers running the show.

    ‘German Engineering’ is not only an offensive tagline, it’s now laughable.

    If this is how they do new product development, I’ll certainly never buy another VW again.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      They need to have a new Lie Then Drive campaign.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      I think they’re just accustomed to relatively toothless EU regulators. “Ok, yes, you caught us. We’ll pay the token fine and promise to never do it again.”

      • 0 avatar
        MrGreenMan

        @JimZ

        I think you have it right.

        Remember when Daimler was caught by the EU for corruption since they were bribing various developing market governments to take the C-Classes? I forget the specifics of why they needed to bribe them, but they did. The EU made this giant kerfluffle – Daimler writes a check, business as usual carries on. CARB would prefer there were no cars in California that were not electric powered by hydro/wind/solar; they don’t play the same games.

  • avatar
    apagios

    “Volkswagen will spend $15.3 million to settle claims and buy back (or fix) 475,000 2.0-liter TDI models in the U.S., ”

    … I think you mean “billion” with a ‘B’? I suspect VW would be ecstatic to find out it would only cost them $15.3 Million.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    “Volkswagen will spend $15.3 million”
    I think that’s probably “billion”

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    As I told my son yesterday when this news broke VW was stupid to not worry about getting approval for the 3.0 before they announced the 2.0 buy back. Now CARB is going to play even harder ball on the 3.0 fix.

    Of course part of the problem is that no one in CARB actually understands how VW cheated and the fact that it is just changing a few lines of code to make the vehicles continue to utilize the emissions compliant strategy past the timer that shut it off in the past.

    Yes that will affect all sorts of things like fluid economy, power and potentially driveablilty and CARB only cars about emissions and to a lesser extent fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      NomNomChomsky

      If you read the letter sent out by CARB you will see that one of their concerns is the Volkswagen plan failing to describe the impact on performance, driveability, and fuel economy. They do not consider a fix acceptable if it harms those aspects.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      @Scoutdude: I think you’re missing the point.

      CARB certainly understands the issues, and they want good engineering proof that it has been fixed. If it was as simple as changing some code, this episode would be over. VW’s report could easily explain how a code change improves emissions.

      But VW has to deploy a more complicated solution than that, and failed to properly explain it to CARB. Also – in VW’s defense – they have to satisfy their customers on all the points you mention. Merely producing a CARB-compliant car isn’t the only goal.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        No CARB’s announcement shows that at least the people who crafted the announcement don’t have a clue. “It failed to list all of the defeat devices” There is no device there is code that only runs the emissions complaint strategy when the vehicle is operated in a manner that is substantially similar to the highly documented test procedure and even then it will only do so for the length of the test.

        I do agree that producing a CARB compliant vehicle is not their only concern. However they do have to fact the facts that there is no free lunch. Otherwise they would have produced a compliant vehicle from the get go. Instead they chose to cheat to provide better fluid economy, power and possibly driveablity that the other mfgs who are playing by the rules.

        They just need to face the music and decide which is worse. The big direct hit to their bottom line from a buy back program, or the smaller hit to the current bottom line and potential future loss due to the customers that aren’t happy because their operating costs went up.

        • 0 avatar
          NomNomChomsky

          The emissions defeat absolutely must be happening at times other than the test conditions. My 2011 is using much less DEF than similar diesels from other manufacturers.

        • 0 avatar
          NickS

          Scoutdude, a device is not only a piece of hardware, it can be software too. In fact, the violation was due to undeclared devices which were in code, not actuators and other hardware.

          CARB has some serious talent in house and can draw from industry experts as well. There were some reports at Bloomberg that CARB got the code from VW during the very last stages before the scandal broke.

  • avatar
    SunnyvaleCA

    Two questions…

    (1) Why not buy the cars/trucks back and resell them in countries without emissions standards?

    (2) I’ve never seen this pollution put into context. How badly do these vehicles pollute compared to:
    – existing marine diesels
    – existing medium duty and heavy duty trucks
    – a hole bunch of military equipment
    – diesel cars from just 10 years ago
    – diesel cars from 35 years ago
    – any cars from 45 years ago

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      (1) Not possible at least under what they negotiated with the 2.0 buy back. In that case VW is barred from exporting vehicles that haven’t been fixed. Of course that doesn’t mean that they can’t produce a fix that is emissions compliant but with the associated degradation of economy and performance and then “fix” them again before reselling them in another country with less stringent emission laws. Of course if the EPA figures out that they did that they may bar VW from selling diesels or any vehicles in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      You have to ‘draw the line’ somewhere, and VW committed fraud. Straight up. And we’re talking family cars with dirty emissions right inside your house to some degree, and you and your kids breathing its exhaust quite a bit, up to 40 times what’s allowable.

      Medium and heavy duty trucks have the same emissions standards, except they’ll kill themselves off in a timely manner, as industry keeps updating to newer equipment.

      It’ll take some time to be free of “grandfathered in” older diesel trucks, but they’re not the ones driving 250,000 miles a year.

      Military and marine diesels could take some time to “clean up”, if at all, but their dirty emissions don’t really reach us in the places we live and breathe.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Note that up to 40 times the limit is pure BS because the standard is based on the average emissions per mile and not instantaneous readings. The test is also designed so that there is never a tested situation where the vehicle is operated at full throttle. Chances are that 40 times number is during full throttle use which is technically not regulated. You’ll find that virtually all cars and light trucks don’t “pass” if they are operating at full load.

        • 0 avatar
          DenverMike

          That’s good to know. I did say “up to 40 times”, and knew it as “worst case”, vs “test mode” compliant. But what’s the difference at idle to 3/4 throttle?

        • 0 avatar
          NomNomChomsky

          Diesel engines produce less NOx at full throttle than at part throttle. At full throttle the soot levels are high, and the particulate trap actually works to capture those particles. Even gasoline engines run slightly rich at full throttle and also have lower NOx emissions as a result. The lies here were at light throttle and cruise, where high NOx comes along with high efficiency.

  • avatar
    Paragon

    So back in the day, when the VW conspirators hatched their devious plans, they mistakenly assumed that they would never get caught. Because they think they are oh so smart. Thus, no plan was put in place for if and when they get caught, er, busted! While bad publicity is still free publicity, I don’t think it will really help them in their goal to sell cars in the U.S.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      I think the VW executives thought that the old saying of “it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission” thing would save them.

      I really don’t think they put much (or any) thought into what might actually happen if they got caught in the U.S.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    VW’s original description of the 3.0 problem was some software that affected operation in order to heat up the catalyst faster. By failing to describe the software I suspect that this was also a lie that VW doesn’t want exposed.

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