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William Maley

Afterthoughts: Answering the Unknowns In the Volkswagen Diesel Scandal

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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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That Audi A3 E-Tron got here just in time.  They can try to shift the fuel economy seeking buyers there.

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They could never build enough e-trons to offset that loss.

Edited by El Kabong

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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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    • By Drew Dowdell
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      The electric powered compressor is located in the intake air path downstream of the intercooler and close to the engine. If the load demand from the accelerator is high but there is still too little boost from the turbocharger, the EPC comes into play. A compact electric motor with an output of 7 kW accelerates the compressor wheel to 65,000 rpm in roughly 300 milliseconds, producing a relative boost pressure of 1.4 bar.
      Recuperation, coasting and smooth starts: MHEV technology
      The MHEV system (mild hybrid electric vehicle) in the new Audi SQ5 TDI can reduce real-world fuel consumption by as much as 0.7 liters per 100 kilometers. At its core is a belt alternator-starter (BAS) connected to the crankshaft. During deceleration, it can recuperate up to 12 kW of energy. This electrical energy is stored in the lithium-ion battery, from where it is dynamically distributed to the consumers in the electrical system.
      If the driver lifts off the accelerator at a speed between 55 and 160 km/h (34.2 and 99.4 mph), the new Audi SQ5 TDI can, depending on Audi drive select setting and driving situation, either recuperate, roll at idle with the clutch disengaged or coast with the engine off for up to 40 seconds. The BAS restarts the engine the next time the accelerator is depressed, and that noticeably faster and more smoothly than a conventional starter. MHEV technology allows for start/stop operation at a speed of up to 22 km/h (13.7 mph). If the vehicle is equipped with the adaptive cruise control (ACC), the engine restarts while the brake pedal is still depressed as soon as the vehicle in front of the SQ5 TDI begins to move.
      Optimized for supreme pulling power and maximum efficiency: the engine
      This top output version of the 3.0 V6 TDI engine has been further developed and modified in numerous areas. Crankshaft, pistons, connecting rods and oil management have all been specially configured for the more stringent demands. The thermal management system is highly versatile. The crankcase and the cylinder heads have their own cooling circuits, allowing the engine oil to warm up quickly after a cold start. The coolant flow is directed to the oil cooler, the EPC, the BAS and the turbocharger as needed. The large exhaust gas turbocharger with variable turbine geometry (VTG) produces a relative boost pressure of up to 2.4 bar. A sound actuator in the exhaust system gives the TDI a sonorous sound.
      Fast, smooth and efficient: the eight-speed tiptronic
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      quattro and sport differential
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      Customers can also order the SQ5 TDI with a sport differential on the rear axle. It actively distributes the power between the rear wheels during dynamic cornering. The sport differential literally pushes the car into the curve, nipping understeer in the bud. It sends more torque to the outside rear wheel when accelerating out of tight radii to further improve agility.
      Sporty and precise: the chassis of the new SQ5 TDI
      Sophisticated five-link suspension at the front and rear lays the foundation for the sporty driving characteristics of the new Audi SQ5 TDI. Audi also offers optional dynamic steering, which uses strain wave gearing to vary the steering ratio over a very wide range as a function of speed and steering angle. The suspension with damper control comes standard in the new SQ5 TDI. It lowers the body by 30 millimeters (1.2 in) compared with the Q5 with standard suspension. It offers a particularly wide spread between comfort and dynamics.
      Along with the sport differential, engine, steering and tiptronic, the dampers are integrated into the Audi drive select dynamic handling system. With Audi drive select, the driver can vary the function of these systems via multiple profiles. Audi also offers the S-specific adaptive air suspension as another option. It adapts not just the damping but also the body’s trim to the respective driving situation.
      The new Audi SQ5 TDI comes standard with 20-inch cast aluminum wheels and 255/45-series tires. 21-inch wheels are available as an option. There is also a choice of three different 21-inch wheel designs from Audi Sport GmbH. Aluminum six-piston calipers on the front axle grip steel discs with a diameter of 375 millimeters (14.8 in). The black calipers (red optional) sport S logos.
      Convenient and safe: the driver assistance systems
      The new Audi SQ5 TDI offers a broad portfolio of driver assistance systems. The predictive efficiency assistant provides specific tips to help the driver save fuel. Audi active lane assist makes it easier to stay in your lane and can handle some of the steering task in slow-moving traffic.  The distance warning display alerts the driver when the distance to the vehicle ahead drops below a safe distance. These and other functions are brought together in the optional Tour assist package.
      The optional functions rear cross traffic assist, exit warning, collision avoidance assist and turn assist also enhance safety in everyday driving. The same applies to the pre sense systems; Audi pre sense city comes as standard. It warns the driver about pedestrians and vehicles, and if necessary initiates automatic emergency braking within system limits. Park assist, camera-based traffic sign recognition and hill descent control round out the optional features.
      Logical and intelligent: controls infotainment and Audi connect
      The MMI control concept in the Audi SQ5 TDI is easy to understand and features an intelligent free text search function. The natural-language voice control function also recognizes inputs from everyday speech. The third control level is the leather multifunction steering wheel, which is used to operate the driver information system or the optional Audi virtual cockpit. Depending on the setting, its 12.3-inch display shows an S-specific mode centered around the rev counter. Audi supplements this with a head-up display.
      The infotainment lineup in the Audi SQ5 TDI follows a modular concept. At the top is MMI navigation plus with MMI all-in-touch and an 8.3-inch display. A standard component of the top system is Audi connect, which connects the SQ5 TDI to the internet via LTE and provides a WiFi hotspot for the passengers’ mobile devices.
      The Audi phone box connects smartphones to the on-board antenna by near-field coupling and simultaneously charges them inductively using the Qi standard. The Audi smartphone interface brings Apple CarPlay and Android Auto into the car. For particularly discerning hi-fi fans, the Bang & Olufsen Sound System with 3D sound is available.
      Sportily distinctive: the exterior design
      Numerous exterior design details hint at the sporty character of the Audi SQ5 TDI. The bold bumpers feature strongly contoured air inlets up front and a diffuser insert with a honeycomb grille at the rear. The Singleframe grille features double aluminum slats and contrasting trim elements in twilight gray matt. The S logo with red rhombus is used in numerous locations to set additional accents.
      The headlights and rear lights of the Audi SQ5 TDI come standard in LED technology; the dynamic turn signals at the front and rear send unmistakable signals. The exterior mirror housings and the clasp on the diffuser sport a shining, aluminum-look finish. Door trim strips in the body color underscore the sportiness. The exterior color panther black is reserved exclusively for the Audi SQ5 TDI.
      Elegant ambiance: the interior
      The dark-toned interior welcomes the driver and passengers with illuminated door sills bearing exclusive S logos. Contrasting stitching on the leather steering wheel and sport seats conveys a dynamic and elegant ambiance. The S sport seats in leather and Alcantara can be upgraded to fine Nappa leather with rhombus pattern and a pneumatic massage function. Brushed aluminum inlays are standard, with elegant wood applications or an exclusive carbon inlay available as options. The shift paddles on the steering wheel sport an aluminum-look finish; there are stainless steel applications on the pedals and footrest.
      The optional rear seat bench plus in the new Audi SQ5 TDI is split into three segments. Longitudinal and seat back angle adjustment are optional. The luggage compartment has a basic capacity of 550 liters (19.4 cu ft), which can be increased to 1,55sss0 liters (54.7 cu ft) by folding down the rear seat backrests.
      Equipment
      Standard equipment in Germany includes 20-inch cast aluminum wheels in a 5-twin-spoke star design, LED headlights and suspension with S-specific damper control. The eight-speed tiptronic transmission, quattro permanent all-wheel drive, sport seats in leather/Alcantara and a three-spoke, leather-covered multifunction steering wheel are also standard equipment. The new Audi SQ5 3.0 TDI will begin arriving at German dealerships in Summer 2019 and have a base price of 67,750  euros. 
       
      Fuel consumption of the models named above
      (Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions figures given in ranges depend on the chosen equipment level)
      Audi SQ5 TDI
      Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 6.8 – 6.6;
      Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 177 – 172
      Audi SQ7 TDI
      Combined fuel consumption in l/100 km: 7.6. – 7.2;
      Combined CO2 emissions in g/km: 199 – 189
    • By William Maley
      In Europe, Volkswagen offers a couple of plug-in hybrid models such as the Golf GTE. But don't expect any those plug-in hybrids to come to the U.S.
      "It's a bridging technology," between internal-combustion and full-electric cars, said Matthew Renna, Volkswagen North America Region's vice president of e-mobility yesterday at the Chicago Auto Show.
      "It's very cost-prohibitive to have two different powertrains on one platform."
      Volkswagen has made no secret about their electric car ambitions, with plans to launch a full lineup within the next few years. While Europe will get a small hatchback based on I.D. Concept, the U.S. will get a production version of the Crozz concept. Volkswagen is also planning on selling their upcoming EVs in all 50 states, not only in those that require automakers to sell certain number of EVs.
      "The plan is to sell nationwide. The goal is a nationwide roll-out ASAP," said Renna.
      Source: Roadshow

      View full article
    • By William Maley
      In Europe, Volkswagen offers a couple of plug-in hybrid models such as the Golf GTE. But don't expect any those plug-in hybrids to come to the U.S.
      "It's a bridging technology," between internal-combustion and full-electric cars, said Matthew Renna, Volkswagen North America Region's vice president of e-mobility yesterday at the Chicago Auto Show.
      "It's very cost-prohibitive to have two different powertrains on one platform."
      Volkswagen has made no secret about their electric car ambitions, with plans to launch a full lineup within the next few years. While Europe will get a small hatchback based on I.D. Concept, the U.S. will get a production version of the Crozz concept. Volkswagen is also planning on selling their upcoming EVs in all 50 states, not only in those that require automakers to sell certain number of EVs.
      "The plan is to sell nationwide. The goal is a nationwide roll-out ASAP," said Renna.
      Source: Roadshow
    • By William Maley
      Next year will see Volkswagen unveil the next-generation Golf GTI. It was reported that the model would utilize a mild-hybrid setup to boost fuel economy and improve low-end response. This decision was made under the leadership of former Volkswagen chairman Matthias Müller and would have become the flagship model for a new range of mild-hybrid models badged as IQ. But a new report from Autocar says the new chairman, Herbert Diess has canned the powertrain.
      No reason was given as to why this decision was reversed. Volkswagen is still planning to do mild-hybrid versions of the standard Golf that will utilize a 48-Volt electrical system.
      Autocar says the next-generation GTI will use an updated version of the turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder producing either 252 or 286 horsepower. The current model in the U.S. punches out 227 horsepower. A six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch will be the available transmissions.
      Source: Autocar

      View full article
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