After Volkswagen admitted to equipping some of its diesel-powered autos with illegal software designed to circumvent emissions testing in 2015, every automaker on the planet fell under enhanced scrutiny. By 2016, U.S. regulators were checking on Mercedes-parent Daimler to see if there were any pollutant-related shenanigans taking place behind the scenes. Germany followed suit shortly thereafter, launching its own investigation.
However, with no local updates on the matter, it was presumed Daimler was in the clear — except Germany did find evidence of corporate misdeeds and the company recalled 3 million vehicles in 2017. At the time, we figured the situation would swiftly bleed over into the United States and help wrap things up. But it hasn’t yet and The Detroit News took time this month to ponder what’s taking federal regulators so long.
The American public’s rapid conversion to the Church of Crossover caught longtime car peddler Jaguar off guard, forcing the British brand to mull desperate measures to stay profitable. And not just in this market, either.
Jaguar is currently an anchor for Jaguar Land Rover, dragging the automaker’s finances into the red, and Indian parent Tata isn’t happy about it. It wants a quick turnaround. For Jaguar’s U.S. arm, that means less choice for future customers.
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.
Emission probes have been in fashion for a couple of years now, especially in Europe. In France, the most recent target is FCA. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is currently under a judicial investigation as to whether or not it misled customers and cheated during emissions testing.
Though the terms of probe are unclear, a letter from the French magistrate kicked off the new investigation earlier this month. In the letter, the head of the investigation says the suspected emissions cheating dates back as early as September 2009, and involves the Fiat, Alfa Romeo, and Jeep brands. FCA is also under investigation in the United States over possible emissions cheating with its light-duty diesel truck engines.
After a lot of back and forth on citywide diesel bans and loads of corporate scandal, the German automotive industry has taken a public beating. However, with a few politicians still left in its corner, it’s managed to avoid some of Europe’s anti-combustion wrath. Proposed diesel bans haven’t yet come into effect, but there remains a strong contingent to force change with Chancellor Angela Merkel suddenly taking a greener stance as an election looms.
There’s no shortage of controversy surrounding Europe’s automotive industry, and much of it surrounds environmental issues. The public solution is to move away from fossil fuels and promote electric vehicles through regulatory action within the next few decades — an idea Merkel now openly supports.
“I don’t want to name an exact year,” she said in a recent interview with SUPERillu. But she also believes Britain and France’s plans to phase out internal-combustion cars by 2040 is “the right approach.”
A problem faced by many Volkswagen TDI owners over the past several years has become a thornier issue ever since the company’s diesel debacle.
North of the border, several owners of 2.0-liter diesel models have turned to the media after high-pressure fuel pump failures turned their vehicles into Teutonic paperweights. The problem facing the owners was unique: to have the automaker buy back their vehicles as part of the emissions scandal settlement, the cars needed to be in running order. No longer covered by warranty, the cost to repair a fuel system contaminated by metal fragments was potentially more than the owners would receive in the buyback.
The burning anger is enough to melt snow.
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.
If you’re in Manhattan on a Wednesday night, you need to head to Arthur’s in the village and catch the 10 p.m. set by soul singer Allyson Williams. She has one of the all-time great voices, expressive and touching, and she has a rotating group of crack musicians backing her up.
A few years ago, I sprawled out in Arthur’s in the middle of a post-auto-show drinking binge when Allyson decided to cover Chaka Khan’s “Through The Fire.” For a chance to be with you, the song says, I’d gladly risk it all. At the time, I took it as a personal rebuke from the Fates for having abandoned the woman I loved. Although I’ve returned to the scene many times since then, I’ve never heard her sing the tune again. Maybe I imagined it. Hard to say.
If you really love someone, you’ll endure a lot to be with them. And that’s the problem facing Eddie, although in his case it’s not a matter of going “through the fire.” Rather, it’s a question of shipping across the pond.
Some automotive generalities are undeniable: Americans like their pickup trucks, and Italians like the style and flair of a Ferrari. It’s not often these two interests align, but today’s Rare Rides must have been written somewhere in the stars, because it’s just so right. Via Craigslist, behold the stunning Ferrar-olet.
There’s not a more uncomfortable phone call for a car dealership’s finance manager to make then asking a customer to come back to have their finance or lease contract rewritten. This is typically caused by sales managers — the people most despised by finance departments — who spot deliver a vehicle based on their wrong guess about the rate or term a lender would approve the deal. Needless to say, the vast majority of these rewrites result in a higher monthly payment for the customer.
A couple of years ago, a finance manager at a Los Angeles Mercedes-Benz dealer told me and a Mercedes-Benz Financial colleague of mine about the day he picked up the phone to fix the opposite situation: the dealership had miscalculated the taxes on a client’s lease on a black ML350 Bluetec SUV and they needed the client to return and sign a new lease agreement reflecting payments of $14 per month lower than the original contract.
He called the customer with the good news only to hear, “No no no! Payment good. Payment good. We OK!”
After he hung up, he thought, “We just got snookered. That ML is probably on a slow boat to China and the factory is going to kill us.”
German transportation authority KBA on Thursday ordered the mandatory recall of 2.4 million Volkswagen cars with illegally polluting diesel engines, in part, because the German automaker’s proposed timetable wasn’t fast enough, Automotive News reported.
The forced recall will mean Volkswagen would likely spend more to fix its cars faster and German officials have told the automaker to submit a proposed fix by the end of November. Volkswagen initially planned for a voluntary recall to begin next year.
Authorities in Switzerland and Austria followed Germany and announced the forced recall would apply to those cars too, Bloomberg reported.
In a prepared statement released ahead of congressional testimony Thursday, Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn said the automaker knew of emissions issues last spring when West Virginia University researchers published findings that the automaker’s cars were illegally polluting. (Emphasis mine.)
In the spring of 2014 when the West Virginia University study was published, I was told that there was a possible emissions non-compliance that could be remedied. I was informed that EPA regulations included various penalties for non-compliance with the emissions standards and that the agencies can conduct engineering tests which could include “defeat device” testing or analysis. I was also informed that the company engineers would work with the agencies to resolve the issue.
(Should have followed up a little more on that email, probably.)
Justin Hyde at Yahoo Autos has fine, fine reporting that U.S. taxpayers paid more than $20 million in incentives for Volkswagen diesel models under the “Cash for Clunkers” program.
According to the report, 4,599 VW Jetta and Jetta Sportwagen diesel cars qualified for the maximum $4,500 incentive under the program. Those cars were equipped with a 2-liter turbocharged diesel engine that the Environmental Protection Agency said used an illegal defeat device to cheat emissions.
The Yahoo report follows a report by the L.A. Times that shows that more than $51 million was paid to Volkswagen by the U.S. for now-bogus “green” claims.