Daimler reached an agreement this week to settle U.S. proceedings related to an investigation into software that’s presumed to cheat diesel emissions tests. While not an admission of guilt, it’s going to cost the company a sizable $1.5 billion — which is a lot to spend on a simple misunderstanding.
After Volkswagen Group admitted to using engine management software designed to falsify emission testing data, there has been a target panted on the back of every other company operating within the auto industry. If VW could get away with such shenanigans for years, there’s reason to believe other carmakers may have engaged in similar behaviors.
Mitsubishi is under investigation by German prosecutors for the suspected use of illegal defeat devices on diesel engines. As usual, the probe was kicked off by a series of raids — practically a cliche at this point.
Germany has certainly ran with the concept after U.S. regulators faulted Volkswagen for using illegal defeat devices to cheat diesel emission testing procedures in 2015. The reality is that regulators are cracking down the world over since the scandal, with Deutschland taking extra precautions to ensure other domestic brands don’t shame themselves like VW did.
Investigators are looking at 1.6-liter and 2.2-liter 4-cylinder Euro 5 and Euro 6 diesel engines and asking individuals who own Mitsubishi models (built after 2014) with those units to contact the police.
Unsealed documents from a German prosecutor’s office shed light on current Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess’ knowledge of the costly diesel emissions scandal. Back in late July, 2015, Diess, having just taken the helm of the VW brand after arriving from BMW, sat in on a fateful meeting, German magazine Der Spiegel reports.
It seems that, for the executives at that table, the key to avoiding prosecution depends on how dumb they can claim to be.
U.S. investigators have found what could be illegal software modifications on Mercedes-Benz diesels intended to help the vehicles pass emissions testing. An engine management function called Slipguard recognized whether the car was undergoing testing procedures while another, called Bit 15, halted emissions cleaning after roughly 16 miles of driving. Together, the two pieces of software may amount to what is known within the industry as a “defeat device.”
When paired the software apparently enabled the cars to produce NOx levels up to 10 times higher than what is legally permitted. Interestingly, Mercedes-Benz issued a voluntary recall upon roughly 3 million European cars last month to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by tweaking their electronic control units.
The Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board have approved emissions repairs for another 24,000 Audi vehicles equipped with the 3.0-liter diesel V6.
Back in May, a U.S. District Judge ruled that if Volkswagen Group failed to obtain government approval for fixes on its emissions-cheating diesels, it would be forced to offer owners buy-backs. Keen not to spend even more money as a result of dieselgate, the company went to work on a solution — resulting in an initial 38,000 Audi and Porsche vehicles spared from the wrecking yard.
The new approval covers 2014-2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L and Q5 diesel models. The vehicles are to have their defeat device software removed and various hardware components replaced to ensure emissions compliance. VW says it has now has a remedy for about 75 percent of its tainted 3.0-liters, and hopes to have a solution for the remaining 20,000 soon.
Audi CEO Rupert Stadler has announced his company will dismantle the task force assigned to investigate how many of its diesel cars came equipped with defeat devices. The company established the team after Volkswagen Group admitted to selling 11 million diesel models, through its various brands, with illegal engine management software that hid peak NOx emissions during testing.
Even though Volkswagen has found itself smack-dab in the center of another costly controversy, Stadler claims that Audi is on the cusp of wrapping up its own diesel crisis. “We will have documented and processed all the engine/transmission combinations by the end of the first quarter 2018,” the CEO told journalists at Audi’s headquarters in Ingolstadt, Germany, this week.
Throughout the entirety of Volkswagen’s diesel emission scandal, the automaker has changed its tune on several occasions. After evading scrutiny from regulators for years, it finally admitted to installing illegal defeat devices designed to fool U.S. emission testing in late 2015. However, it assured the public that no high-ranking executive had complete knowledge of the misdeed until news of the scandal broke to outraged consumers.
Obviously, that was a lie. But no damning evidence came out indicating anyone above mid-level management had prior knowledge of the devices or any idea they would be so harmful to the company. But now a Volkswagen manager arrested earlier this year claims the automaker’s former chief executive and other top managers had been told the carmaker’s diesel emissions violations could cost up to $18.5 billion, well before the September 2015 announcement.
Suing automakers over diesel emissions violations is quickly on its way to becoming passé.
Since Volkswagen admitted to installing software that circumvented pollution laws, regulators have been on the hunt for their next big target. While it might make their efforts seem like a bit of a witch hunt, there’s good reason to be on the lookout. Studies have shown diesel emission levels are often much higher than analysts expected, with experts attributing the results to the high probability that other automakers are skirting regulatory guidelines — likely by way of defeat devices.
Daimler, Renault, and PSA Group are all being investigated in their home countries as FCA faces legal action within the United States.
General Motors is now being sued for allegedly installing defeat devices in its trucks to sidestep emissions tests, making it the sixth major manufacturer accused of diesel cheating since 2015. However, General Motors isn’t dabbling in gray areas, acting confused, or assuring the public it will get to the bottom of the accusations. It says the claims against it are flat out wrong.
The U.S. Justice Department is preparing itself for a lawsuit against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles over, you guessed it, diesel-burning engines. Cetane-rated fuel has been a broad target for governments lately, but the forthcoming FCA suit is less concerned with what you’re burning than with how you’re burning it.
Officials are concerned the automaker may have used a defeat device after the Environmental Protection Agency accused it of using software that allowed about 104,000 diesel vehicles to emit excess emissions. The models in question are 2014-2016 Jeep Grand Cherokees and Dodge Ram 1500 trucks with 3.0-liter diesel engines.
The investigation that Volkswagen installed illegal “defeat devices” on its cars to cheat emissions tests will reach the U.S. Department of Justice, Bloomberg (via Automotive News) reported.
Sources within the department said they would investigate the automaker, but no details were given.
The Justice Department recently suspended prosecution of General Motors for covering up a faulty ignition switch that was linked to 124 deaths. It’s unclear what, if any charges, could be brought against Volkswagen for the illegal emissions, however the Justice Department charged GM with wire fraud violations in conjunction with its ignition switch coverup.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Analoggrotto Buyers are skipping these in droves and heading down to sign the golden paperwork for a new Telluride. ATPs speak volumes and we have 'em. Our customers are telling us that we offer Mercedes quality for a better deal, and our suite of luxury features rivals any luxury automaker. Insult me all you want, but AVMs, DSDs and BSODs tell the truth.
- Ted Lulis The Exodus from California is mind-boggling. No surprise from the rectum of the country
- Mr Imperial Seeing the adjusted-for-inflation amount always makes me sick, I can't believe how much it has gone up in my 40-some-odd trips around the sun. Still fondly remember seeing these and Ford Explorers everywhere.
- Kyl65759578 👋
- ToolGuy I appreciate the thoughtful comments from the little people here, and I would like to remind everyone that Ford Motor Company offers a full range of vehicles which are ideal for any driving environment including New York City. The size and weight our of product portfolio has been fully and completely optimized to be friendly to the planet and friendly to pedestrians while consuming the bare minimum of resources from our precious planet (I am of course a lifelong environmentalist). Plus, our performance models will help you move forward and upward by conquering obstacles and limits such as congestion and your fellow humans more quickly at a higher rate of speed. I invite you to learn more at our website.Signed, William Clay Ford Jr.