By on October 15, 2020

On Wednesday, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) urged manufacturers to disclose any unapproved hardware or software that might place a vehicle’s emissions outside of the acceptable parameters of legality. CARB said those who comply would be subjected to reduced penalties and reminded everyone that it’s going to be opening a state-of-the-art testing facility that will be better at catching cheaters in 2021. It’s so advanced, the board suggested it might even be able to catch totally new violations.

You’ve likely seen this tactic employed by an exasperated parent or substitute teacher. An illicit substance is found tucked away somewhere and they parade it around demanding whoever owns it to fess up immediately or face harsher consequences later. This obvious trap is best avoided by committing a lesser crime right then and there or being so obstinate that you’re issued a minor punishment just for being annoying  thus freeing you of suspicion for the pornography Mr. Lawson found taped beneath the bleachers.

Though that might only buy manufacturers some time. Government regulators around the world are presently fixated on emissions violations and there’s big money in busting someone down. Daimler recently agreed to spend $2.2 billion to settle emissions-cheating allegations in the United States and Fiat Chrysler paid nearly half that in 2019. Of course, those fines pale in comparison to the original Dieselgate scandal from 2015. Volkswagen Group has spent tens of billions dealing with the emissions-cheating fiasco over the years.

The California Air Resources Board even bragged about how much money it had procured from “vehicle and engine manufacturers who did not voluntarily disclose violations” in the past by noting the staggering size of some settlements in Wednesday’s letter. It likewise warned industry players that its latest threats were not empty. Annoyed that so many companies had not proactively outed themselves five years earlier, the board announced its new screening tests have been incredibly helpful in deciding which companies require “further investigation” in the string of cases it has planned.

The message couldn’t be clearer  companies need to confess their environmental sins to California now or be thrown on the pyre for software-related witchery.

From CARB:

The results of this expanded program are now visible for all to see: multiple settlements with manufacturers for cheating on their certification documentation. Those settlements revealed a sad litany of disbenefits to public health as a result of excess emissions, and a commensurate amount of money  now exceeding one billion dollars, with more investigations underway  for mitigation and penalties with numerous manufacturers. Full compliance with CARB’s emission regulations for vehicles and other mobile sources is essential to California’s plans to meet air quality targets and to protect heavily impacted communities from the harmful effects of air pollution exposure.

This situation will not continue  It is a clear violation of public health to pollute the air with illegal devices, and it undermines the essential trust that has supported the certification program for decades. CARB is therefore now writing to you again to encourage voluntary disclosure of any potential violations with respect to these and other applicable regulatory requirements. Voluntary disclosure will trigger a reduction in penalties; failure to do so may affect the result of future enforcement actions involving your company when CARB’s new techniques and its new state-of-the-art testing laboratory opening in 2021  inevitably detect any violations you may have.

Ironically, defeat devices only exist to falsify testing data when manufacturers don’t feel they can adhere to the emissions standards set by regulators  and it’s looking like the bar has been set too high for diesel motors. Following the government crackdowns, automakers have moved away from diesel passenger vehicles quite aggressively  with several having eliminated them from their lineups entirely (e.g. BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen).

[Image: LanaElcova/Shutterstock]

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22 Comments on “California Urges Manufacturers to Tattle on Themselves...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    So are they still part of the United States of America? I can’t really tell anymore.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Refresh my memory: Do any of these post-2015 violations involve non-diesel vehicles?

    Diesel passenger cars have pretty well died out thanks to the 2015 VAG Asteroid Event, and I would guess that diesel consumer trucks are declining somewhat, despite their unmatched capabilities.

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    Must be thrilling to see a little bit of the EU[SSR] in the United States in the form of CARB.

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      CARB setting rules for Californians seems to make sense. It’s when they try to set rules for everyone else that it looks strange.

      • 0 avatar
        R Henry

        @SPPPP

        “It’s when they try to set rules for everyone else”

        CA is the largest new auto market in USA. As such CARB does essentially make rules for the all of USA. It does not make economic sense for manufacturers to produce a CA version and another 49 State version–as they did long ago. Also, more than 10 other sympathetic bluestates like MA have essentially adopted CA standards.

        True, what CARB wants does not have binding legal authority in disinterested jurisdictions, but on a practical level, it has EVERYthing to say about what gets manufactured.

    • 0 avatar
      Old_WRX

      As an example of CA idiocy: Many years ago my older brother moved to CA from Mass. He took his Camry with him and had the CA emissions test done it and it passed with flying colors. But, he had to pay a fee to bring the car into the state because it wasn’t CA certified.

    • 0 avatar

      “see a little bit of the EU[SSR] in the United States”

      A little bit? I see a full scale original USSR embodiment in US[SR] lately.

      • 0 avatar
        ThomasSchiffer

        The same is true for the European Union – reminds me a lot of the former East Germany and the Soviet Union. Centralized planning being the key feature. And we all know that planned economies are destined to fail.

        • 0 avatar

          It wasn’t that bad in GDR. They had highest living standards among socialist countries. And East Germans were much more relaxed than West Germans I met that time. They did not worry about future a bit. Joe Biden would be very popular in GDR.

  • avatar
    Deontologist

    The whole state of CA is guilty of environmental virtue signaling.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Surprisingly (to me), CARB has more credibility for me right now than they ever have before.

    [Enhancing their own testing capabilities is smart.]

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    California/CARB didn’t invent racketeering but they get to do it “legally”. They know damn well thirsty SUVs and pickups will remain the hottest sellers in CA no matter what.

    The only question is how much can CA/CARB “profit share” with automakers.

    • 0 avatar
      jkross22

      Unelected bureaucrats dictating public policy is never a good idea. A worse idea is to ignore a health problem products cause – a product we all need – and to pretend the idea of externalities is some mythical idea like the tooth fairy.

      I’m all for live and let live, but the assumption is that you’re not hurting anyone in that equation. Air pollution at 2000 levels was hurting a lot of people.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    This state’s government sickens me nearly all of the time because they’ve replaced sound public policy with virtue signaling.

    THAT BEING SAID, CARB is correct. Los Angeles air quality was nasty when I moved here. It is considerably better today, although still not great. The valley areas retain heat and pollution and because the area is significantly overpopulated, the air quality suffers.

    Without a control group, you can guess as to whether Los Angeles would have been better without CARB doing their best Mussolini impression, but that means you trust that companies like GM and VW wouldn’t lie, kill people and cheat their shareholders.

    There are no ‘good guys’ in this fight. Just don’t forget it’s not just government that overreaches and grabs power and lies.

    Would you like to talk about Facebook/Google/Twitter?

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      It’s not that the CARB hasn’t done good until now. But it’s just a money grab from here forward. Pure/simple.

      Returns are diminishing rapidly to nothing (in the automotive sector). Compare any ’69 car to one now. Or an ’89 diesel to a 2020.

      The fines are small enough for automakers to easily handle (or laugh at), but still add up to billions annually.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    Commiefornia strikes again. What a deplorable sh!t hole

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