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Discussion: The True Extent of VW's TDi Pollution.


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VW's scandal is, undoubtedly, a revelation that has rocked the automotive industry since its discovery. Day in and day out, it's a story that cannot escape the news. It shows up on my Twitter feed, my Google now stories, my local news, my nightly talk shows... It's everywhere, including the little pamphlet shoved under your windshield wiper, likely left carelessly by some hypocritical Prius driver. The overwhelming negative response has even spurred some to the point of pulling Nazi-controlled pasts out of the grave. If there were ever a story to drown out Donald Trump, this is it. Yes, it's that big... But is it justified?

 

I have a few questions regarding some of the technicalities in the recent uncovering of VW's emissions evasion and the media storm that's followed it. Before we move on, know that this discussion isn't intended to pertain to the legality of VW's position in its self-derived legal mess. Laws were obviously broken and reputations were shattered. This isn't about that. It's about the bigger picture... The true reality of what effect this will have on our living, breathing bodies in regards to the world, at large. These are completely serious questions to which I expect completely serious answers, if possible.

 

  • What are the emission's requirements for heavy-duty pickups (such as Silverados with the Duramax), as well as commercial vehicles (such as box trucks and semi-trucks) relative to the requirements for passenger vehicles?

 

  • How would the sales between each of those compare, and what are the average miles logged annually for each type of vehicle? 

 

  • ​Despite the obvious deceptive behavior, laws broken, etc., (VW is evil, etc.)... Which is actually the bigger evil when it comes to polluting the air? How big of a difference is it, or is it negligible? Is this just hot air from the EPA and VW is the scapegoat of the industry, or is everything completely justified and VW has forever tarnished our lungs? 

 

If someone is able to answer those questions with actual facts and figures from reputable sources (and not fluffy opinions, all fluffy and typed in ALL CAPS), I'd genuinely be interested to see the answers. I'd like to know if my bias is just tainting my opinion, or if my gut feeling on the matter is close to reality. I'm hoping this can be an actual civilized discussion, unlike the majority of everything I've seen on C&G lately. 

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I believe the results of the diesels all depend on where you live as to how bad it really is in relation to the effect.

 

Take for instance if you live in Shanghai the direct results are negligible due to the effect of their own emissions from so many other things. Now in Paris it may be greater on some days depending on weather because they have little industry and a lot of Diesels.

 

As for deaths as some want to state they can not produce a body. I am sure someone has had an issue but the thing is often there were other conditions they suffered that also were the main contributor to their death as Emphysema or other related lung ailment.

 

But one just needs to step back and look at the many Diesels we have from Cars, Trucks, Ships, Busses, Tractors, Generators. Trains etc. Just how much more did VW contribute over the many other sources compared to what they increased with their trick.

 

I am not sure how you could represent this but it would be interesting to see these numbers. Most places these other non automotive models are not tested and many are not even under emission rules so it would be interesting to see just how much VW's contribution really was compared to these other model.

 

What Balth presented is just the start and there is much more dated to be found and presented to put this into perspective. Even then it may be difficult to show as so many of these models are non regulated in many countries or non regulated type of model.

 

They say dozens of deaths were the result but it will be interesting to see if there are thousands of lawsuits.

 

The fact is in many areas where there are no emissions testing there are millions of cars out of spec with emissions. Now if there was any major damage being done it is in these areas but yet no one says a word there as the locations still passes EPA standards. Often it has to do with population density of more so with weather and land formations. LA is in a bowl with little air movement. Lincoln Nebraska is flat and more air movement.

 

This is a complex deal and will not be easily answered though most of us know the truth. .

 

Statements and opinions will be hard to prove one way or the other due to the lack of the info in the over all picture. The car standards are the easy one but when it comes to everything else Diesel it get murky in most areas as it is not tracked.

Edited by hyperv6
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This is hard to say as the west coast now that Oregon and Washington have adopted and follow the same regulations as California the cities are pretty clean with the buses being electric, CNG or Hybrid Diesel. You no longer have the black clouds for the most part, even dump trucks are having to clean up and many of the delivery semi's are now CNG. So this is very much based on where you live and the regulations in place by the local state, county, city and National gov levels.

 

Over all, I have to say that Diesel at least here in America has cleaned up nicely. Yet still room to improve IMHO.

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So one item that I am looking for and cannot seem to clearly find... and I believe is very important to the discussion:

 

1. What is the Federal limit on NOx that VW exceeded? (I've been finding 3 possible answers -  0.10, 0.05 or 0.02)

 

From the reports, VW has exceeded the limit by as much as 30 times.  I'm sure there is some editorial outrage in those headlines, but as we don't know which standard they are multiplying from, we don't know what the upper limit is.

 

0.02 appears to be a California low emissions standard, 30 times that would be 0.6 which is three times higher than the NOx standard from 2007, but is over 6.6 times lower than the 1998 standard... I believe this is the most likely scenario cited by the headline.

 

0.05 is another emissions limit cited. 30 times that would be 1.5 which is still a lot less than the 4.0 standard from 1998

 

0.1 times 30 is 3.0.... again lower than the 4.0 standard from 1998.   This is the worst possible scenario for VW (and it is unlikely they would be able to fix their way out of it, so I think this is unlikely)

 

This is just to put things in perspective. 

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Interesting that the WSJ is reporting that 2 engineers are behind this,

 

http://www.wsj.com/articles/vw-emissions-probe-zeroes-in-on-two-engineers-1444011602

 

Very good read, but seems they both promised the now gone CEO that they could deliver a Green Diesel for the US market and their lies are being pointed at that caused everything else to happen.  :confused0071:

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Interesting that the WSJ is reporting that 2 engineers are behind this,

 

http://www.wsj.com/articles/vw-emissions-probe-zeroes-in-on-two-engineers-1444011602

 

Very good read, but seems they both promised the now gone CEO that they could deliver a Green Diesel for the US market and their lies are being pointed at that caused everything else to happen.  :confused0071:

Good story.

This fit my speculation that pressure was put on the engineers to make this work hell or high water. A mid level engineer can make a move like this as all they generally lose is their job and that was what they may have faced anyways if they failed to make a clean diesel to start with. The real question will be when did Winklehorn know and how long did he let it go on. Was he in from the star or just the last few years?

I just never bought the cooperate greed theory as this was too much to risk for a CEO on just saving a few hundred dollars a car. While it is not easy to cut money from a car at VW they could as they are generally not bare bones on most of their models and they have a little more meat on the bone.

Drew I have heard up to 40% over the limit in some stories. I really don't think anyone has the real numbers yet. Once we do get them it will be important to put them into perspective. We have to keep in mind even with these cars failing they are still cleaner than 25 years ago and when compared to many of the things damaging the environment these cars play a relative small part in all of this. Again that is not an excuse for VW just some perspective as to how great the damage. The media loves to play up the deaths that they can not show and that really distorts the whole deal here. We all saw how GM was not always treated fair in their stories and I expect the same will be done here.

At this rate I am not sure I want GM to be number one. Every time a company makes the top it get caught at something. #2 may not be a bad Goal anymore. LOL!

Edited by hyperv6
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They are trying to get to who started this and why. As time went on I am sure a larger group was involved. But normally ideas like this start with one of just a couple people and grows from there. That is what they are looking at.

 

Hell at the end here most of engineering at VW, Audi and Porsche knew.

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In cases like these, it's never about the absolute value of damages. There's no effective means to quantify. But that doesn't mean responsibility is whisked away. 

 

VW vehicles worldwide probably emit on orders of magnitude far lower than anything out there. It won't be penalties levied that will skin VW alive. And it shouldn't be at all. 

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Guest Guest 1

Here's a fun fact on emissions.

 

There are 90,000 cargo/container/shipping ships in our oceans and waterways. The large ones have turbo charged two stroke compression-ignition(diesel) exceeding 10,000 Liters in displacement.

 

The 10 biggest cargo ships pollute more every year than every car on Earth combined.

 

The emissions contributed to our atmosphere by these cars is so small that it's irrelevant. Attacks on VW are political.

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Speaking for myself I have pointed out elsewhere that passenger cars have been regulated for pollution much more closely than things like commercial transportation or power plants. Similarly, Drew's point is also valid-the resulting threshold for cars is so low that even a fail that is orders of magnitude above what is allowable is still quite small.

Is there a political aspect to attacking VW on this issue? Probably, in the same way that it was for GM and Toyota when they had their recall woes lately. But what's good for the Americans and Japanese is also good for the Germans. And again, it's not like the technology to meet the regs didn't exist, because it did.

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Here's a fun fact on emissions.

 

There are 90,000 cargo/container/shipping ships in our oceans and waterways. The large ones have turbo charged two stroke compression-ignition(diesel) exceeding 10,000 Liters in displacement.

 

The 10 biggest cargo ships pollute more every year than every car on Earth combined.

 

The emissions contributed to our atmosphere by these cars is so small that it's irrelevant. Attacks on VW are political.

 

I think the attacks on VW are for misleading consumers.  Manufacturers may not like the law, but that doesn't mean they should be cheating to get around the law.    Also, many consumers purchased TDIs after being told that the emissions were cleaned up, thus making the TDI a green alternative to a Hybrid.  That turned out not to be the case.

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Drew the attacks on VW are for misleading the customers to those who have a proper perspective. But then you have elements out there that also have agendas and they smell blood in the water. This is their time to paint an automaker as evils. Same for the anti Capitalist as well some extreme environmental groups.

Then I would never discount another automaker who may plant seeds to drive conversation to paint another MFG in a even poorer light then they are already in. Some have already done this in advertising but I suspect some also push the media to also drive the story.

 

I would not call it political as the Government was also made to look the fool as they have in the last few regulation issues. But I would say that VW made a major gaff and many will use it to promote their agenda driven causes.

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More fuel for the fire (surprised this hasn't been found its way onto C&G yet): The Guardian: Four more carmarkers join diesel emissions row

 

Some highlights from the article:

 

Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Mazda and Mitsubishi have joined the growing list of manufacturers whose diesel cars are known to emit significantly more pollution on the road than in regulatory tests, according to data obtained by the Guardian.

 

“The issue is a systemic one” across the industry, said Nick Molden, whose company Emissions Analytics tested the cars. The Guardian revealed last week that diesel cars from Renault, Nissan, Hyundai, Citroen, Fiat, Volvo and Jeep all pumped out significantly more NOx in more realistic driving conditions.

 

All the diesel cars passed the EU’s official lab-based regulatory test (called NEDC), but the test has failed to cut air pollution as governments intended because carmakers designed vehicles that perform better in the lab than on the road. There is no evidence of illegal activity, such as the “defeat devices” used by Volkswagen.

 

“The VW issue in the US was purely the trigger which threw light on a slightly different problem in the EU - widespread legal over-emissions,” Molden said. “For NOx, [diesel] cars are on average four times over the legal limit, because of the lenient nature of the test cycle in the EU.” The Emissions Analytics tests showed 4x4s to have the highest NOx emissions, with several unnamed models emitting 15 times official levels and one more than 20 times.

 

“These new test results [from Emissions Analytics] prove that the Volkswagen scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. What we are seeing here is a dieselgate that covers many brands and many different car models,” said Greg Archer, an emissions expert at Transport & Environment. “The only solution is a strict new test that takes place on the road and verified by an authority not paid by the car industry.”

Edited by blackviper8891
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Interesting stuff. Thanks for the link.

What makes these findings different IMO is that the scale of the overrun is smaller, plus the admitted fact that NOx resting in Europe is more lenient. In other words, what we are seeing in the real world is a scaled-up version of the difference between claimed and observed mileage claims. Upon further analysis I suspect that the public health claims once again gloss over the fact that there are polluters out there that operate at far more relaxed levels, but the car is the convenient target for tree-huggers.

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Interesting to hear, but I wonder... almost no one gets fuel economy in the real world the way they get fuel economy in the lab.  It really is a Your Mileage May Vary type situation. 

 

I'm not surprised that manufacturers tune to the the specs of the test, they've done that for years, but installing a cheat program to detect the test is something very different. 

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Out of all the vehicles I've owned, I've never had one that so consistently beat the ratings on the window sticker as my 2013 Beetle TDi.

 

Almost all diesels do beat the fuel economy ratings.  It's because in the real world, one doesn't drive a diesel in the same manner one drives a gasser.   But for consistency reasons, the way the cars are tested stays the same.   I drive many different cars and there are power train setups from specific brands that I know will always beat the ratings, ones that always meet the ratings, and ones that always struggle to meet the ratings. 

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All my New GM cars since 2004 have either met the MPG or beat the MPG. 

GM has always been good on their HP numbers by either under estimating or being pretty spot on. As for the MPG I have never been disappointed.

My Eco Turbo claims 19 City and 26 Highway and I see 25 City 32 Highway and I am not doing anything to try to save gas. The two 3.6 both hit the claimed numbers or they better them by 1-2 MPG in the summer.

 

Ford and others have always cut MPG and HP numbers close and generally get caught once in a while. GM has been very good at being good on theirs.

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All my New GM cars since 2004 have either met the MPG or beat the MPG. 

GM has always been good on their HP numbers by either under estimating or being pretty spot on. As for the MPG I have never been disappointed.

My Eco Turbo claims 19 City and 26 Highway and I see 25 City 32 Highway and I am not doing anything to try to save gas. The two 3.6 both hit the claimed numbers or they better them by 1-2 MPG in the summer.

 

Ford and others have always cut MPG and HP numbers close and generally get caught once in a while. GM has been very good at being good on theirs.

 

FCA is very power train dependent.  Tigershark + 9 speed only gets the sticker if you're gentle and know the little trick to get it into 9th gear.  Hemi + 8 speed is the same way but for a different reason (fun to beat on at low speeds, only so much savings to be had at highway speeds), Pentastar 3.6 + 8 speed I always always blow away the highway EPA of 31mpg in a 300/Charger often get 35 - 36. I see 27mpg highway with the same powertrain in the AWD GC and Durango rated for 23/24... and like you, I'm not taking it slow. I haven't driven any of the transverse Pentastars with the 9-speed for long enough to get an impression.

 

I've been disappointed in the Ford MPGs in the last few I've had. The only one that impressed me was the Excursion EL Ecoboost and only after I filled it with premium.

 

GM is also very power train dependent. I'm not impressed with the Lacrosse, Regal, or Verano..... they just get the sticker if you drive it... like it's a Buick.  My Encore does well above the EPA both city and highway.  The Suburban blew me away with multiple 22+ mpg runs across Pennsylvania.  The Lambdas are rated terribly and perform worse.  The ATS-V, when you drive it as if it is a normal car, will get 33 - 34 mpg on the highway all day long... that number will drop significantly if you spool up the turbo though. 

 

The current Toyota Avalon is a sleeper in both power and MPG. Like the Chrysler LX cars, I get 35ish mpg highway.

 

All of Hyundai's ratings still seem rather optimistic once getting in the real world, though the Genesis V6 does well. 

 

The old VW 2.5 5-cylinder had 4-cylinder power with V6 fuel economy. Rated for 29, got 27 at best. 

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