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Earth Transportation

Volkswagen Says Carbon Deviations Much Smaller Than Suspected (wsj.com) 84

An anonymous reader writes: Back in November, shortly after the Volkswagen emissions scandal broke, the company voluntarily disclosed the results of a quick internal probe which found that 800,000 more vehicles had inconsistencies with their CO2 output. After investigating the issue more fully, the company now says the vast majority of those cars — all but 36,000 — check out just fine. "Following extensive internal investigations and measurement checks, it is now clear that almost all of these model variants do correspond to the CO2 figures originally determine," they said. A report at the Wall Street Journal (paywalled) notes that this is good news, but reminds us that "Volkswagen has yet to clarify the much larger issue of how it came to outfit some 11 million diesel vehicles to cheat in emissions testing for nitrogen oxide."
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Volkswagen Says Carbon Deviations Much Smaller Than Suspected

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  • by grimmjeeper ( 2301232 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @12:57PM (#51088877) Homepage
    I thought the big deal was all the NOx they were releasing was way above normal.
    • To clarify my point, my understanding of the issue was that carbon wasn't the issue in the first place. Nitrogen oxides were the issue. So saying "our carbon emissions aren't bad" has nothing to do with what they were doing wrong.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's not hard to understand. After the initial NOx scandal broke, they subsequently revealed that they had discovered discrepancies in CO2 emissions also; this was a secondary and much less significant issue than the NOx cheat device, but it would still have been a fairly big deal if they had found widespread, non-trivial CO2 discrepancies. Now it turns out that the CO2 discrepancies werenot significant after all.

      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        So basically, Volkswagen is saying "Yes, we knew there was a dead rat in your soup, but at least there's no fly in it"
      • Two separate issues were uncovered. One relating to NOX and the other to CO2.
      • I'm confused about things VW. When VW engineers have globally demonstrated they're to stupid to figure things out, someone listens to them for an excuse? It's like listening to a serial shopper explain why it kept shopping was because it had a credit card, still.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The NOx emissions is related to the diesel engines. The discrepancy (or "discrepancy") that VW found internally is related to gas engines, which is what this article is about.

      • Exactly: The gasoline engine thing was an additional potential problem. I suspect, but don't know for sure, that analyzing the situation is exacerbated by all car mongers including VW fudging reported gas mileage as much as they think they can get away with. (Gas mileage varies pretty much in step with CO2 emissions) In which case this would be VW deciding that any liberties they took in dealing with gas mileage/CO2 from their gasoline ingines are mostly acceptably close to industry norms.

        • Here in the US with NOX they've been testing other manufacturers too, and nobody else has been found with cheat devices.

          Gas mileage numbers are imperfect, and based on arbitrary driving patterns, but so far the main scandal is not playing out as "everybody was doing it but VW got caught." So far, the things VW is accused of, everybody else tested has been cleared.

          This is a different issue than the main issue, but there is no need to falsely point fingers at other companies.

          And I for one am not going to be

          • You obviously have no idea what you're talking about. Car company's use computerized testing equipment and test tracks, and test simulators for their cars. The one thing they don't talk about is their code. And I for one find that very troubling.
            • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
              But the test pattern is to a standard. So you could buy a new car off the lot, then run the same test on it, and see if the results match the self-reported results. If not, open an investigation. If they match, then it's likely that they aren't gaming the system (and more likely they are clean for the more new cars you randomly test)
    • There was a separate admission by VW that their CO2 emissions figures may have been inaccurate. This applied to their gasoline vehicles as well, not just diesel. The NOx emissions were specific to just their diesels.
      • I missed that. Once the over reporting hype saturated me, I tuned out and didn't read much of the follow up articles.
    • I thought the big deal was all the NOx they were releasing was way above normal.

      As I recall, you are indeed correct... With high compression ratios needed for diesel the NOx omissions go way high and have to be dealt with... VW admitted their engine management software was changing the air/fuel mixture to reduce NOx emissions when it was being tested, which killed performance and fuel economy, but then when not under test, went with the best performance settings.

    • I thought the big deal was all the NOx they were releasing was way above normal.

      That was the problem with diesel cars. This is talking about the subsequent CO2 emissions problems discovered in petrol cars during an internal investigation. This is on top of the NOx problems they already have.

    • I thought the big deal was all the NOx they were releasing was way above normal.

      Yeah, I don't think this attempt at damage control is going to do anything but show they're still dishonest. They're just trying to make sure that the public understands that their brand is permanently tainted, and there will be no period of repentance, contrition, or penitence.

  • At this point can we trust VW when they say "it's OK, we're fine, nothing bad happened"?

    I'm inclined to think no.

    Maybe it's true, maybe it's not. But this isn't something which you can just take them at their word without verifying ... they've already lost credibility, which means they don't get it back just by telling us it's all OK.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      These are not the emissions you are looking for.

      • Yea, but in the quest for GOOD PR and the propensity of your average person to not understand the difference between CO2 and NOx emissions.

        Time to sell VW short... They are grasping for any PR straw they can find so this has got to be really bad..

    • At this point can we trust VW when they say "it's OK, we're fine, nothing bad happened"?

      I agree, independent testing is needed. They really can't be trusted. Also, the diesel cars may develop CO2 emission problems after being fixed for NO2. There is a bit of a communicating vessels problem with NO2 and CO2, the higher efficiency/power of the engines were achieved partially through higher compression which itself led to an increase of NO2

    • At this point can we trust VW when they say "it's OK, we're fine, nothing bad happened"?

      I'm inclined to think no.

      Maybe it's true, maybe it's not. But this isn't something which you can just take them at their word without verifying ... they've already lost credibility, which means they don't get it back just by telling us it's all OK.

      VW's problem was NOx emissions and not CO2 emissions. However, your suspecting the VW is up to no good still seems to be true.

      This is really a thinly veiled attempt at spinning up good PR. While they are not lying, they are trying to mislead folks about the situation, both to quell the descent in the owner's ranks and prop up the stock price. My guess is that they know some really bad news is getting ready to hit, so they cooked up this story to try and keep the "true believers" in the fold when it does

    • At this point can we trust VW when they say "it's OK, we're fine, nothing bad happened"?

      Given that VW were the ones who voluntarily reported about the CO2 issue in the first place. Yes. We probably can trust them on that.

      The NOx emissions scandal on the other hand ...

  • Every program has them. Someone probably tied a bonus to the output readings, which cascaded down the line to "You get a bonus if there's a test mode"
    • by PRMan ( 959735 )

      Don't you mean "if you don't turn on test mode during emissions testing, I'll fire you and find someone else who will!"

      Engineers rarely get bonuses.

      • If you, or your guys aren't getting bonuses, you need a different spokesman. Software engineers are an efficiency on the entire business model, when used appropriately and should be rewarded as such.
  • "Volkswagen has yet to clarify the much larger issue of how it came to outfit some 11 million diesel vehicles to cheat in emissions testing for nitrogen oxide."

    WHAT WHAT WHAT?!?!? You mean they aren't using doublespeak and redirection like every other company and politician on the planet?!?!

    Oh wait ... ...
    They ARE behaving exactly like every other large corp because ... WE AREN'T GOING TO DO ANYTHING HARMFUL TO THEM.

    The officers of the company will walk away clean with big checks, a few low level people have been fired. Thats where it ends.

    Congress isn't going to do shit, else a few of the C-level people in VW will just out them on a few of their cocaine binge p

    • They ARE behaving exactly like every other large corp because ... WE AREN'T GOING TO DO ANYTHING HARMFUL TO THEM. [...] ongress isn't going to do shit, else a few of the C-level people in VW will just out them on a few of their cocaine binge parties

      Sorry to rain in on your rant, but VW is a German company. A significant part of it is state-owned, and like many big German companies, it is effectively run cooperatively by management (a lot of them skilled engineers; its CEO had a Ph.D. in physics), workers, a

      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )

        Sorry to rain in on your rant, but VW is a German company. A significant part of it is state-owned,

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        A state in Germany owns 12.7%, but as far as I could tell, "Germany" owns 0.0% of it. Where do you get your information from?

  • Problem solved (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yoda222 ( 943886 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @01:02PM (#51088929)
    • 1. get caught cheating on NOX
    • 2. say that there is a problem with CO2 numbers
    • 3. make a lot of noise to say that in fact THE PROBLEM* was not as large as announced. (* with CO2, small letters at the bottom of the page)
    • ???
    • profit
  • sorta like saying you liked the sweater you got for Christmas
  • Nothing to see over here (NO2) - the problem's CO2...oh wait CO2 is fine...problem(s) fixed
    • Hey, it's about PR you know.. Got to prop up that stock price and quell the grumbling of the owners..

      Sadly, it's a bit too obvious to work all that well...

  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Wednesday December 09, 2015 @01:15PM (#51089037)
    For failing to cheat more on the CO2 emission systems. They're obviously not up to caliber of VW's NOx engineers.
  • Since when do the crooks get to investigate themselves?
    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      For big-time crooks, that's the normal mode of operation.

      It's only the small-time crooks or the crooks that don't do a good job of taking care of their benefactors that are come-down-upon.
  • While it is impossible to tell the NOx emissions of a vehicle without special instruments, the CO2 emission is very simple to measure as it is a direct function of gas mileage. Fuel is about 12/14 carbon by mass, CO2 is 12/44 carbon. Pretty much all the carbon in fuel ends up as CO2.

  • Does anyone believe VW when they say anything?
    Their on-going explanation has been 'rogue engineers' after all.
  • They're Germans.

    They lie.

    Just like they lied about how they needed to keep using coal, and were caught on that lying when their own scientific studies showed it was an utter fabrication.

"When anyone says `theoretically,' they really mean `not really.'" -- David Parnas

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