October 21, 2015 at 1:14 PM
Over the last 35 years Chrysler, Toyota, Ford, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, General Motors, Mazda, Suzuki, Subaru, and Isuzu have all had to recall cars with major safety issues, often due to the use of inferior (cheaper) parts. Many millions of cars have had to be recalled, and death or injury was the price paid by many of those car owners. So if no-one is known to have died as a direct result of VW’s scheming, what makes the scandal such a big deal?
Just that, scheming; it was a deliberate attempt by VW to hoodwink the environmental agencies of the world into believing exhaust emissions across the range of Volkswagen’s diesel vehicles were well within the emission levels laid down by respective agencies.
The deception was initially discovered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in America. The agency believed nearly 500,000 diesel models in the US were involved, including the Audi A3. However, as the extent of the fraud began to unravel, VW admitted to 11 million vehicles being involved worldwide, 8 million of them in Europe.
It is believed some additional programming, or new piece of software was added to the diesel engines on-board management system, which could detect when the vehicle was being tested on a rolling road.
Although no-one’s confirming it; investigations suggest that sensors on the speedometer and steering wheel, and air pressure sensors, relay data to the management computer. The computer then recognises certain aspects of test conditions, steering wheel position, fixed engine speed, and switches to test mode, altering the engine conditions to minimise emissions. With testing completed and the vehicle back on the road, the computer switches back to road mode increasing engine performance...and exhaust emissions.
When the scam was discovered, true results showed nitrogen oxide emissions to be 40 times higher than those laid down by the EPA.
VW have set aside $7.5 billion to cover the 500,000 recalled vehicles in the US. And that’s just the start. The environment agency can impart a fine of up to $37,500 for each vehicle recalled, which totals nearly $18 billion. Then there’s the possibility of being charged with criminal action – and that’s just in the US.
Since the US first rang the alarm bells, countries across the world have been voicing concerns. With Europe being VW’s most lucrative market for diesel cars, Italy, France, the UK, and Germany have all started their own investigations, as well as South Korea and Canada. At this time though, no-one seems to know how to approach the problem. While some countries believe it should be on a country by country basis, France’s finance minister believes there should be a Europe-wide investigation.
At the present time it is only the US and Germany who have gone as far as recalling the affected vehicles. The US has some 500,000 vehicles being recalled and Germany is quoting nearly 2.5 million.
Paul Willis, the UK boss of Volkswagen has appeared before a committee of MP’s and maintains 400,000 UK Volkswagens will need to be recalled for engine management, and engine modifications. The recall is expected to begin January 2016 and could take over 12 months.
It has been estimated that between 10 and 11 million VW cars and commercial vehicles worldwide are affected by the defeat device. Built between 2009 and 2015, they all use the EA 189 diesel engine.
The easiest way to check if your vehicle is affected is look through your Volkswagen V5C documents and service log. If your car is fitted with the EA 189 diesel engine then the chances are you can expect a recall. Confirmation can be obtained from the VW UK customer care centre.