Volkswagen's Diesel Fix Actually Makes Emissions Worse, Consumer Group Claims

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
volkswagens diesel fix actually makes emissions worse consumer group claims

A software fix designed to bring sidelined 2.0-liter diesel Volkswagen models into compliance just made the vehicle dirtier, a European consumer group claims.

According to Reuters, the Italian consumer group Altroconsumo tested an Audi Q5 that underwent Volkswagen’s technical fix, only to find that nitrous oxide emissions were 25 percent higher than before.

The Q5, like the bulk of the 11 million recalled 2009–2015 TDI models, was equipped with the EA189 Euro 5 engine. Volkswagen’s European fix for that engine relies on software only, while the Euro-market 1.6-liter TDI requires a piece of mesh to regulate air flow as well as the software fix.

European Union emissions regulations aren’t as strict as those mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, but they aren’t lax, either. Several million of the recalled vehicles are being called back to dealers for an approved fix. In response to the test, the European Consumer Organization (BEUC) issued a statement calling the fix “a fudge.”

“This is another blow for EU consumers and a new dimension of the VW scandal,” stated Monique Goyens, general director of the BEUC. “This test by our Italian member clearly demonstrates that VW’s solution to deactivate the defeat device is not reliable.”

She went on to criticize the company for not offering European owners any compensation for its scandal. Stricter emissions laws in the U.S. meant a pricey mechanical fix was required to bring the EA189 engine into compliance. The company agreed to a buyback and compensation program amounting to more than $15 billion.

“Volkswagen justifies compensation payments to US consumers with the argument that their cars cannot be as easily fixed as in Europe,” Goyens stated. “This excuse now seems to be built on sand. VW must compensate European consumers. This is the only possible way forward for VW to make up for this ongoing consumer detriment.”

The EPA has yet to agree to a preferred fix for U.S. owners who want to keep their vehicles on the road. According to the settlement, 85 percent of affected vehicles must be bought back or repaired by June 2019 or the automaker will face penalties of $100 million for every percentage point below that number. In total, 475,000 2.0-liter VW and Audi TDI models are affected by the settlement.

The 2015 model year brought a new 2.0-liter TDI engine — the extensively revamped EA288. That mill is outfitted with an AdBlue urea injection system designed to scrub NOX from the vehicle’s exhaust, making it arguably easier to bring into compliance.

(This story has been corrected. It originally stated that the recall rate for the fix option must meet 85 percent of the vehicles not bought back by the manufacturer. That is incorrect, and the copy has been updated.)

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  • Pwrwrench Pwrwrench on Jul 08, 2016

    "Of course, the tractor driver is not affected – its everyone behind them." Unless there's another truck or bus from the 70s, or even the 60s, in front of them. Yep the air in SoCal was much worse in the 50s and 60s than today. However there were also many more heavy industrial plants around then. Steel mills, cement plants, tire factories and others put a huge amount of particulates, Nox, and hydrocarbons into the air. Most of those factories are gone now. That production has moved to Asia or Latin America and is one of the reasons for the dirty air there and the cleaner air here. Certainly the emission controls on autos and trucks has also been a part of better air quality in Socal and many other areas as well. Many parts of Commiefornia do not meet the Clean Air Act standards, and likely never will. Unless there's a big earthquake or some other event that causes 70% of the population to go somewhere else or disappear. And don't get me started on MTBE.

  • Jimal Jimal on Jul 08, 2016

    We're still debating the buyback versus the fix for my wife's Passat. At this point we're leaning toward keeping the car, taking the cash, and waiting to see what happens. Either they come up with a fix that is acceptable and we keep the car, the fix is not acceptable and we dump the car... Or, as the deadline approaches, if Volkswagen can't come up with an approved fix and they need more cars to meet the 85% threshold, they end up doing a second buyback (minus the fix cash) for those of us who stuck it out.

  • Aidian Holder I'm not interested in buying anything from a company that deliberately targets all their production in crappy union-busting states. Ford decided to build their EV manufaturing in Tennessee. The company built it there because of an anti-union legal environment. I won't buy another Ford because of that. I've owned four Fords to date -- three of them pickups. I'm shopping for a new one. It won't be a Ford Lightning. If you care about your fellow workers, you won't buy one either.
  • Denis Jeep have other cars?!?
  • Darren Mertz In 2000, after reading the glowing reviews from c/d in 1998, I decided that was the car for me (yep, it took me 2 years to make up my mind). I found a 1999 with 24k on the clock at a local Volvo dealership. I think the salesman was more impressed with it than I was. It was everything I had hoped for. Comfortable, stylish, roomy, refined, efficient, flexible, ... I can't think of more superlatives right now but there are likely more. I had that car until just last year at this time. A red light runner t-boned me and my partner who was in the passenger seat. The cops estimate the other driver hit us at about 50 mph - on a city street. My partner wasn't visibly injured (when the seat air bag went off it shoved him out of the way of the intruding car) but his hip was rather tweaked. My car, though, was gone. I cried like a baby when they towed it away. I ruminated for months trying to decide how to replace it. Luckily, we had my 1998 SAAB 9000 as a spare car to use. I decided early on that there would be no new car considered. I loathe touch screens. I'm also not a fan of climate control. Months went by. I decided to keep looking for another B5 Passat. As the author wrote, the B5.5 just looked 'over done'. October this past year I found my Cinderella slipper - an early 2001. Same silver color. Same black leather interior. Same 1.8T engine. Same 5 speed manual transmission. I was happier than a pig in sh!t. But a little sad also. I had replaced my baby. But life goes on. I drive it every day to work which takes me over some rather twisty freeway ramps. I love the light snarel as I charge up some steep hills on my way home. So, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Passat guy.
  • Paul Mezhir As awful as the styling was on these cars, they were beautifully assembled and extremely well finished for the day. The doors closed solidly, the ride was extremely quiet and the absence of squeaks and rattles was commendable. As for styling? Everything's beautiful in it's own way.....except for the VI's proportions were just odd: the passenger compartment and wheelbase seemed to be way too short, especially compared to the VI sedan. Even the short-lived Town Coupe had much better proportions. None of the fox-body Lincolns could compare to the beautiful proportions of the Mark was the epitome of long, low, sleek and elegant. The proportions were just about perfect from every angle.
  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"