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    William Maley

    Afterthoughts: Answering the Unknowns In the Volkswagen Diesel Scandal

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      Trying to gauge and answer some of the unknowns in the Volkswagen Diesel Mess

    The past week has been miserable at Volkswagen as allegations arose from the EPA that a number of models equipped with the 2.0L TDI four-cylinder were found to emit more emissions than were legally allowed in the U.S. thanks to software. Since the announcement came out last Friday, there has been a fair amount of news.

    • Volkswagen admitted that 11 million diesel vehicles sold around the world had the software
    • The company has set aside $7.3 billion for possible penalties and fixes
    • EPA is looking into the 3.0L TDI V6 used in a number of Audi vehicles, Porsche Cayenne, and Volkswagen Touraeg
    • A number of European countries, along with South Korea announce their own investigations into Volkswagen TDIs to see if they violate emission standards
    • U.S. Department of Justice begins an investigation into Volkswagen over the emission violations
    • Dealers will be getting some financial assistance
    • Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn resigns
    • The German Transport Minister announces 1.6L and 2.0 TDI Engines in Volkswagen vehicles have the illegal software


    There are still a number of questions up in the air as to what will happen to Volkswagen, the vehicles in questions, and other items. That's where I come in as I'll be looking into the crystal ball and try to figure out what happens next.

     


    What will Volkswagen do with the TDI vehicles in question?

     

    Most likely Volkswagen will implement a software update that will allow the TDI vehicles to meet the strict EPA emissions. This might also cause the TDI vehicles to lose some power.

     

    What is unlikely is Volkswagen retrofitting the affected TDI vehicles with to clean up the emissions. The Truth About Cars has an excellent article talking about the possible parts and price tag if Volkswagen decides to go this route.

     

    There could also be a buyback program if the EPA and/or Volkswagen deems it necessary.

     

    Will the EPA fine Volkswagen the $18 Billion that has been reported?

     

    No.

     

    The reasons for this are two-fold. Consider the previous penalties the EPA has levied against automakers:

     

    1995: General Motors was fined $11.5 Million for installing illegal devices in 470,000 Cadillacs
    1998: Honda was fined $12.8 Million for not reporting to EPA they had disabled part of the onboard diagnostic computer that detected engine misfires.
    1998: Ford was fined $7.8 Million for installing a defeat device in 60,000 Econoline vans

     

    These amounts are somewhat a drop in the bucket for automakers.

     

    Also, take into consideration that Volkswagen has put aside $7.3 Billion for penalties and fixes. The automaker believes they'll get a hefty fine, but nowhere near the $18 billion.

     

    A possible guess as to how much Volkswagen will be fined? Somewhere under the $500 Million mark.

     

    Will there be a mass exodus of owners from their Volkswagen diesels?

     

    Not likely. A small number people will likely sell or trade in their Volkswagen diesel models, only to suffer a loss in resale value. Many will likely keep their vehicles.

     

    What will do to Volkswagen's U.S. Sales?

     

    Sales will drop even further, which isn't good news for the German brand as sales have been on a downward trend again. August sales in 2015 were down 8.1 percent when compared to same time last year. Sales for the year are down 2.1 percent. This compounds a problem that has been part of Volkswagen for the past few years for not quite understanding the U.S. market and its odd quirks.

     

    One model that could take a big hit is the Golf. The model has been one the bright spots for Volkswagen as it has posted a 151 percent in year to date sales in August.

     

    What about Volkswagen's reputation?

     

    It will likely take a dive. But if the past scandals with other automakers such as GM, Ford, etc are indication, Volkswagen will be back to good down the line.

     

    Are any other auto companies taking part in something similar?

     

    Signs seem to point to yes. Earlier this week, Automotive News reported that a European environmental group that suggests a number of other manufacturers are using software or some sort of technology to skirt emission laws.


    Transport & Environment says ICCT tests show clear discrepancies between laboratory emissions and real-world performance for several automakers including BMW, Mercedes-Benz and General Motors’ Opel unit. It argued that these manufacturers might also employ similar kinds of software in Europe that VW has allegedly admitted to using in the U.S.

     

    Emissions-reducing technologies “are optimized for the tested conditions and there is substantial anecdotal evidence that the cars detect when they are tested and deploy ‘cycle-beating’ techniques to reduce emissions,” Transport & Environment said in its report.

     


    You can check the group's report here.

     

    Meanwhile, German publication Auto Bild alleges a number of vehicles violate the Euro 6 emission standards. One vehicle singled out in their piece was the BMW X3 xDrive 20d that was eleven times greater than the standard. Now BMW has denied they do any manipulation on emission tests.

     

    “We observe the legal requirements in each country and adhere to all local testing requirements. When it comes to our vehicles, there is no difference in the treatment of exhaust emissions whether they are on rollers or on the road," BMW said in a statement to USA Today.

     

    Don't be surprised if more automakers are found to be manipulating or finding a loophole to pass these tests.

     

    What about reputation of diesel?

     

    This is possibly the biggest unknown at this time for the U.S. For a time, diesel was seemingly making a comeback with a number of automakers announcing diesel options for their passenger vehicles. Now with Volkswagen taking a bit of heat on their diesels, this could cause a number of automakers to reconsider the idea of offering a diesel.

     

    There is also the question if the EPA could make further restrictions or changes to the requirements for the diesel models. If so, this could mean diesels are only for luxury models or just become non-existent.

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    VW's biggest problem is their marketing and distribution, after this debacle.

     

    Every VW dealer I've been to has had high pressure sales staff, terrible inventory. Their marketing of their core vehicles is non-existent; and it's because the VW Group does not want VW to poach Audi sales. 

     

    And, they are incompetent when it comes to growing through their existing base. VW thinks people give a damn about German engineering. Except the customer demographic that buys Camries, Cruzes; Equinoxs, Edges, the staple products of all the mass-market brands; NONE of the buyers want German engineering. None. They want : reliability, quality, safety and value. All of those being weighted equally high, and 'value' includes F/E and upfront costs. 

     

    And I don't think VW hits any of those marks really that well. 

     

    Besides, their terrible infotainment systems; and decontenting of models has left them is a space where they can attract no one expect the most die-hard of fans.

     

    Don't get me wrong, the Golf and Touareg are the best vehicles they make; but they are not vehicles that can sell well. A Golf does everything an A3 does really well. So really, they split sales of the SAME pie.

     

    VW has to bring their product prices into the realm of buyers that could make their sales go up. Now if those same consumers think VW already skimps on reliability; then where else could they think VW may have cut corners to build a product at a price, not to a standard. Their Jetta is a turd. Their Passat, while nice; it just makes you salivate when you see the overseas version. Sure, when they lauched the 2012 model, sales spiked. But now there's no steam left. The product was just left to sit, the updates no the least being meaningful; and their cost reduction efforts still could not afford parity in standard features relative to other makes.

     

    For example: In the midsize space Ford and Mazda, did quite the opposite to what VW did, respective to the 2012 Passat and 2013 Fusion, and 2014 6. Both the Fusion and 6 answer the question of 'premium styled conventional mass-market sedan' better than VW. How could they have let that happen? The last Passat was a premium product for the time. They didn't have to lose the style.  

     

    VW needs to show some humility, and do what Hyundai had to do to gain traction. Namely, that's price reductions and adding back content to the vehicles. They won't succeed without a market penetration strategy, where they have to operate either cost-recovery or even in the red; (they're probably already in the red) and give people more for less to build their rep. 

     

    Now these recent events have forced their hand; but this is a strategy they should have employed long ago.

     

    I predict VW sales will tank in the U.S. And if they ever recover; they'll only be in the same failing predicament they were in before this crisis. 

    Edited by Suaviloquent
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    VW has always had wild sales swings on this side of the pond. When the Gas Crisis hit in the 70s it was the Golf that saved them. In the late 90s/early 2000s it was killer styling and (ironically, in hindsight) the first TDIs that did it for them.

    This time, it'll need to be a combination of styling and reliability IMO. And time. Lots and lots of time.

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      # # #
      2019 CHEVROLET SILVERADO 3.0L DURAMAX TURBO-DIESEL SPECIFICATIONS
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      Dual-overhead camshafts, four-valves per cylinder
      Air Delivery:
      Single variable-geometry turbocharger; intercooling system. 42.8-psi / 2.95 bar max boost
      Fuel Delivery:
      High-pressure, common-rail direct injection (36,250 psi / 2500 bar); electronic throttle valve
      Ignition System:
      Compression
      Max Engine Speed:
      5100 rpm
      Additional Features:
      Continuously variable oil pump; engine oil cooler, automatic stop/start, Active Thermal Management,
      Emissions Control:
      Low-pressure Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR); Selective Catalyst Reduction on Filter (SCRF)
      Horsepower
      (hp / kW @ rpm):
      277 / 204 @ 3750 (SAE certified)
      Torque
      (lb.-ft. / Nm @ rpm):
      460 / 624 @ 1500 (SAE certified)
      Manufacturing Location (of globally sourced parts)
      Flint, Mich.  
       
       
      Chevy Press release on page 2


      2020 CHEVROLET SILVERADO’S NEW, ADVANCED 3.0L DURAMAX TURBO-DIESEL REDEFINES EXPECTATIONS
      No-compromise engine delivers refinement, performance and efficiency
      2019-06-03
      DETROIT — The all-new 2020 Chevrolet Silverado’s available 3.0L Duramax inline-six turbo-diesel engine adds choice and versatility for full-size truck customers, offering class-leading torque and horsepower in addition to focusing on fuel economy and capability. It is the first-ever inline-six turbo-diesel offered in Chevrolet’s full-size light-duty trucks.
      Chevrolet engineers started with a clean-sheet design and developed an all-new engine that leverages the efficiency and refinement advantages of the inline six-cylinder architecture and incorporates advanced combustion and emissions technologies to optimize performance and efficiency. It is priced identically to the 6.2L V-8 as a $2,495 premium over a 5.3L V-8 model or $3,890 over a 2.7L Turbo model.
      “From the moment the engine is started, to its idle, acceleration and highway cruising, the 3.0L Duramax performance will change perceptions of what a diesel engine can offer in refinement,” said Nicola Menarini, director for Diesel Truck Engine Program Execution. “With advanced technologies that draw on global diesel expertise, it’s a no-compromise choice for those who want the capability and driving range of a diesel in a light-duty truck.”
      Available on LT, RST, LTZ and High Country models, the 3.0L Duramax diesel rounds out the new Silverado’s range of six propulsion choices, each tailored to suit customers’ needs for performance, efficiency, technology and value. It is rated at an SAE-certified 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque delivering 95 percent of peak torque at just 1,250 rpm. Peak torque is sustained from 1,500 rpm through 3,000 rpm, providing a powerfully smooth and satisfying driving experience.
      The 3.0L Duramax is paired with GM’s 10L80 10-speed automatic transmission, featuring a centrifugal pendulum absorber torque converter that reduces vibrations to improve smoothness, reinforcing its performance, efficiency and refinement. This combination also offers exhaust braking, which uses the diesel engine’s compression to help slow the vehicle, requiring fewer brake applications by the driver when in Tow Haul mode.
      Innovative Engine Technologies
      The inline six-cylinder architecture offers inherent efficiency and refinement, but the team expanded with smart technology choices to help improve efficiency and weight while optimizing the truck experience. A lightweight aluminum block and cylinder head reduce overall mass, and Active Thermal Management enhances efficiency and cold-weather warm-up. Ceramic glow plugs also help with shorter heat-up times and a quicker cold start, meaning the engine block heater is not needed until -22 degrees F.
      Towing is an important part of owning a truck, and customers can gain additional confidence thanks to the exhaust brake available in tow-haul mode. The water charge air cooler, coupled with low pressure EGR, reduces time to torque. The variable geometry turbocharger helps provide a greater balance of performance and efficiency, and an electronically variable intake manifold helps optimize performance across the rpm band.
      Inherently efficient and balanced
      Compared to a DOHC V-6, the inline-six architecture offers greater efficiency from the reduced friction of operating only two camshafts and their associated valvetrain components. The I6 configuration offers the perfect balance of primary and secondary forces, without the need for balancing shafts.
      “In addition to reduced friction, the architecture enables smooth operation,” Menarini said. “The new Duramax 3.0L elevates the 2019 Silverado with one of the most refined and efficient diesel engines in the segment.”
      Along with supporting elements such as a tuned air induction system and other noise-attenuating elements, the 3.0L Duramax delivers exceptional quietness and smoothness at all engine speeds.
      All-aluminum construction and tough rotating assembly
      The 3.0L Duramax cylinder block is made of a cast aluminum alloy that provides the strength required to support the high combustion pressures that occur within a diesel engine, while also offering an approximately 25 percent mass savings over a comparable cast iron engine block. Iron cylinder liners are used within the aluminum block to insure truck durability.
      There are seven nodular iron main bearing caps that help ensure the block’s strength under those high combustion pressures, while also enabling accurate location of the rotating assembly. A deep-skirt block design, where the block casting extends below the crankshaft centerline, also contributes to the engine’s stiffness and refinement. It’s complemented by a stiffness-enhancing aluminum lower crankcase extension attached to the main bearing caps.
      The rotating assembly consists of a forged steel crankshaft, forged steel connecting rods and hypereutectic aluminum pistons. The alloys in the respective castings for the rods and pistons make them lightweight and durable. Silicon is blended with the aluminum for heat resistance and tolerance within the piston cylinders, which enhances performance and makes the engine quiet.
      A thick piston crown — the top of the piston — and reinforced top ring add strength to support the tremendous cylinder pressures enabled by turbocharging and the engine’s high 15.0:1 compression ratio.
      DOHC Cylinder Head and Rear Cam Drive
      Overhead camshafts offer a direct, efficient means of operating the valves, while four valves per cylinder activated by maintenance-free finger followers with hydraulic lash adjusters increase airflow in and out of the engine. This arrangement is integrated on the Duramax 3.0L’s lightweight aluminum cylinder head, which is topped with a lightweight composite cam cover that incorporates the crankcase ventilation and oil separation systems.
      A pair of lightweight, assembled camshafts actuates 28.35 mm diameter (1.12-inch) intake and 24.55 mm diameter (0.97-inch) exhaust valves. The camshaft drivetrain is uniquely located at the rear (flywheel side) of the engine, for greater refinement and packaging considerations for the comparatively long inline-six. A crankshaft-driven chain drives the high-pressure direct-injection fuel pump, while a chain driven by the fuel pump drives both intake and exhaust camshafts. A smaller belt drives the variable flow oil pump from the crankshaft.
      Additional Technology Highlights
      Variable geometry turbocharging enables the Duramax 3.0L engine to deliver class-leading horsepower with minimal effect on overall efficiency. The system uses closed loop controlled vanes position and sophisticated electronic controls to automatically adjust boost pressure to the desired value based on engine running conditions and instantaneous power demand. The liquid-cooled turbocharger features a low-friction ball-bearing shaft and is mounted close to the exhaust outlet of the engine for quicker spool-up of the turbine and quicker light-off of the exhaust catalyst. A water-to-air intercooling system produces a cooler higher density air charge for greater power. Maximum boost pressure is 43,5 psi (300 Kpa) absolute.
      Low-pressure EGR: The Duramax 3.0L utilizes new low-pressure Exhaust Gas Recirculation to optimize performance and efficiency. The EGR system diverts some of the engine-out exhaust gas and mixes it back into the fresh intake air stream, which is drawn into the cylinder head for combustion. That lowers combustion temperatures and rates.
      Traditionally, EGR systems in diesel applications recirculate exhaust gases between the two high-pressure points, the exhaust manifold(s) and intake manifold. However, it generally requires efficiency-robbing assistance from the turbocharger or other supporting elements to achieve the pressure differential required for sufficient EGR flow rates.
      The new low-pressure system adds to the high-pressure system, supporting continual adjustment of exhaust backpressure for more efficient operation. It recirculates gases between the low-pressure points in the exhaust system (downstream of the particulate filter) and after the compressor inlet.
      When the low-pressure EGR is activated by an electronically controlled valve, the engine burns exhaust gas that has already passed through the particulate filter. That increases the turbocharger’s efficiency, which helps overall vehicle efficiency without deteriorating the rate of particulate matter emitted by the engine.
      A variable intake manifold offers dual air intake pathways for each cylinder. Electronically controlled flaps — one for each cylinder — shorten or lengthen the airflow to each cylinder. This optimizes the airflow into the engine and improves performance and responsiveness across the rpm band, particularly at lower engine speeds.
      A variable-pressure oiling system with a continuously variable-displacement vane oil pump enhances efficiency by optimizing oil pressure as a function of engine speed and load. With it, the oil supply is matched to the engine requirements rather than the excessive supply of a conventional, fixed-displacement oil pump. The engine uses low-friction Diesel Dexos 0W20 oil.
      Oil jets located in the block are employed for performance and temperature control. They target the inner core of the piston with an extra layer of cooling, friction-reducing oil. The jets reduce piston temperature, allowing the engine to produce more power and enhance long-term durability than engines without the technology.
      Active Thermal Management helps the engine warm up quickly to achieve and maintain its optimal engine temperature for performance and efficiency over the entire engine operating range. The system uses a three-actuator rotary valve system to distribute coolant through the engine in a targeted manner. It sends heat where it’s needed to warm up the engine to reduce friction and heat the passenger cabin or cools when needed for high-power operation. The Duramax 3.0L also features split cooling between the block and head.
      Common rail direct fuel injection of 2,500 bar (36,250 psi) helps generates class-leading horsepower and torque. The system’s pressure is generated by an engine-driven twin-piston pump sending fuel to solenoid-activated injectors with nine-hole nozzles that support precise metering of the fuel for a smooth idle and lower combustion noise. The fuel system is capable of multiple injections per combustion cycle — up to 10 times per injector — for more consistent and stable combustion performance that translates into smoothness and refinement, particularly at idle.   
      Electronic throttle valve: The Duramax 3.0L features an electronic throttle valve to regulate intake manifold pressure in order to optimize exhaust gas recirculation rates. It also contributes to a smooth engine shutdown via a more controlled method of airflow reduction.
      Ceramic glow plugs used in the Duramax 3.0L heat up more quickly and hotter than conventional metal-based glow plugs, helping the engine start and heat up more quickly in cold weather. The Duramax 3.0L achieves unassisted and assisted starting temperatures of -22 F (-30 C) and -40 F (-40 C) respectively.
      Stop/start technology helps optimize efficiency in city driving. The driver-selectable system shuts off the engine at stoplights and other stop-and-go situations. The engine automatically restarts when the driver takes their foot off the brake.
      ABOUT CHEVROLET
      Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is one of the world's largest car brands, doing business in more than 100 countries and selling more than 4.0 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.
      # # #
      2019 CHEVROLET SILVERADO 3.0L DURAMAX TURBO-DIESEL SPECIFICATIONS
      Type:
      Duramax 3.0L DOHC Turbo Diesel I6 
      Bore & Stroke (in. / mm):
      3.30 x 3.54 inches (84mm x 90mm)
      Block Material:
      Aluminum
      Cylinder Head Material:
      Aluminum
      Compression Ratio:
      15.0: 1
      Firing Order:
      1-5-3-6-2-4
      Valvetrain:
      Dual-overhead camshafts, four-valves per cylinder
      Air Delivery:
      Single variable-geometry turbocharger; intercooling system. 42.8-psi / 2.95 bar max boost
      Fuel Delivery:
      High-pressure, common-rail direct injection (36,250 psi / 2500 bar); electronic throttle valve
      Ignition System:
      Compression
      Max Engine Speed:
      5100 rpm
      Additional Features:
      Continuously variable oil pump; engine oil cooler, automatic stop/start, Active Thermal Management,
      Emissions Control:
      Low-pressure Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR); Selective Catalyst Reduction on Filter (SCRF)
      Horsepower
      (hp / kW @ rpm):
      277 / 204 @ 3750 (SAE certified)
      Torque
      (lb.-ft. / Nm @ rpm):
      460 / 624 @ 1500 (SAE certified)
       
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