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Transportation Businesses Earth Technology

Opel Dealers Accused of Modyfing the Software of Polluting Cars (deredactie.be) 147

An anonymous reader writes: Belgian public broadcasting station VRT has discovered that GM Opel dealerships in Belgium seem to be updating engine management code when Zafira cars equipped with the 1.6 litre CDTI diesel engine are brought in for service. After the software change, the nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions drop sharply, at the cost of reduced power output. Bern University of Applied Sciences and environmental lobby club DUH previously found this model to pass European emissions standards only when the rear wheels are not rotating. When the rear wheels are made to spin along, NOx emissions increase to several times the limit set by European regulations. General Motors denied using defeat devices as well as the update program that seems to be taking place. However, an anonymous mechanic at an Opel dealership states that GM started pushing updates shortly after the Dieselgate scandal broke.
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Opel Dealers Accused of Modyfing the Software of Polluting Cars

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  • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @12:43AM (#51327349) Homepage

    I suspect that the majority of brands do the same thing more or less, so I'm not surprised.

    It's back to the drawing board for those that sets up the conditions for tests and the emissions limits to get figures that better reflects reality. And this is not only diesels that are circumventing the regulations, I expect everyone of doing similar regardless of fuel type.

    There's no surprise to customers that the fuel consumption figures provided by car manufacturers are almost impossible to achieve in reality, no matter what the gauges in the cars says.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @01:41AM (#51327471)

      The problem wasn't the laws or the tests, the EU regulators knew the tests were being cheat on, the regulations already forbid defeat devices in plain language. They could have thrown the book at them at any point they want, but all the diesel manufacturers have factories in Europe, so it didn't and won't happen. VW got cocky and thought they could do the same thing in the US, where political considerations offered them no protection. Fucking them over has no impact on the US economy, so they got proper fucked.

      Now public pressure is forcing the EU manufacturers to fix their shit, but the economic impact of trying to fix it fast and the clear evidence of regulatory capture and corruption ensures it's all kept outside of public view as much as possible.

      Business as usual.

      • It was in the financial times and reuters and many others last october. not news.

        http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0... [ft.com]

      • It can't have *no* impact on the US economy. VW sells higher-quality cars at lower prices, meaning every American can buy a car and SOME OTHER STUFF, which puts more purchasing power into the hands of Americans. This spreads employment (creates jobs).

        That's a global consideration, of course. It may create more jobs in other nations at the expense of other domestic jobs. The consideration at hand locally is the fluctuation of domestic job proportions: are we 90% local and 10% export, or 80% local 20%

    • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @01:48AM (#51327483) Journal

      I suspect that the majority of brands do the same thing more or less, so I'm not surprised.

      I suspected as much myself. Other manufacturers must have tested the VWs and found out about the cheating -- so why did the cheating stay secret for so long? Probably because everyone was doing the same.

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        I suspect that the majority of brands do the same thing more or less, so I'm not surprised.

        I suspected as much myself. Other manufacturers must have tested the VWs and found out about the cheating -- so why did the cheating stay secret for so long? Probably because everyone was doing the same.

        Anyone with the slightest knowledge of how diesel engines worked was almost completely certain of it.

        Diesel engines are dirty, they aren't efficient either. You only use them in applications where a petrol engine is unsuitable (I.E. things like heavy haulage, where pulling power is more important than any other consideration). You simply cant make a clean diesel, you can only try to make it less polluting.

    • There is also no surprise that there is an environmental lobby group called DUH.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Fortunately if Nissan cheated on my emissions, an 20 x 0 is still 0 from my EV :-)

      I really hope owners sue over this. Reduced performance now, and excessive health-damaging pollution in the past. Health providers should sue too.

    • I suspect that the majority of brands do the same thing more or less, so I'm not surprised.

      Yep. When Dieselgate broke I was modded down for pointing out that what we're likely to see is basically everyone get busted, because basically everyone has always been doing this. I don't want a medal, I just want Slashdotters to wake the fuck up to corporate malfeasance. It is the normal state of affairs, not the exception.

      • The funny thing is it's still a non-issue. People aren't toxicologists, and they look at a 0.0012ppm increase in an atmosphere with 0.023ppm NOx and go, "OMG TEH CARZ WILL R KILL UZ ALL!" and talk about how poisonous these emissions are. This doesn't even account for either that *everyone* is doing this (you're not going to suddenly see tons of shit pumped into the atmosphere), that we have long-term atmospheric measurements (so it *hasn't* caused a problem), or that the concentration of NOx around the car

  • One says the cars were modified outside the factory before to increase power. The other implies they have always been this way and now are being modified to be lower emissions.

    So which is it?

    I hope there is further investigation but this seems like more than coincidence.

  • The chip mod industry is booming so that big rig wannabe monster truck diesels can pollute with impunity. Step across the border into Arizona or Nevada and bingo it is fine to pollute the air. What really pisses me off is that the industry is a farce, here we are complaining about "euroweany' diesels that get stellar fuel economy and the same time brag about monster hunks of shit that rip up the environment and send a shit load of carbon in the form of soot and CO2 into the atmosphere. Americans are becomin

  • "Dieselgate scandal " Can we please stop calling every controversy *gate. emailgate. Celebgate, Donutgate Climategate, Intelgate, Bridgegate. etc
  • Volvo messed too (Score:5, Interesting)

    by scsirob ( 246572 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @01:58AM (#51327495)

    My Volvo V40 D4 used 4.7l/100km for 30.000km strait. At the very first service interval, the ECU software was updated. Immediately the car started to use 5.3l/100km and no longers seems to deliver the same power. My driving habbits and usual routes have not changed. My shoes didn't get any heavier. How do you explain 15% more fuel usage other than trying to cover up software 'flaws'?

    • Their fault was forgetting to hack the trip computer too.
    • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @04:04AM (#51327759)

      How do you explain 15% more fuel usage other than trying to cover up software 'flaws'?

      A fucked up service by an apprentice who didn't know what they were doing?

      15% is a low number in the scheme of assembling something incorrectly. I'm not saying they didn't do what you claim, but do watch your cause and effect conclusions.

    • by Viol8 ( 599362 ) on Tuesday January 19, 2016 @04:53AM (#51327863) Homepage

      They're new engine line up consists of ONE engine - a 2.0L 4 cyl in various stages of tune and turbocharging (presumably to save development costs). Good luck to them getting decent NOx figures out of that in the high power versions, not to mention longevity. There does seem to be an obsession with shriking engines below what is reasonable (3 cyl 1.0L in a Mondeo?? Hello Ford!) simply to meet CO2 emissions targets. Thats all well and good but you don't get something for nothing and high pressure small engines just don't last so you will probably find the car scrapped years earlier than otherwise and so completely negating any CO2 benefit accrued by the engine. Short term thinking at its finest.

      • I'm not convinced this is that big a deal for most people. UK average mileage was 7900 miles in 2014. Even if you say the engine goes pop at 120k miles, that's still 15 average years of driving. Let's be honest, somebody buying the 1.0L Mondeo is probably going to drive fewer miles than average, so I don't see that being a bother for anyone, even if it does suffer reduced engine longevity. Any slight bump in an old car turns it into an insurance write off anyway. Average age of a car in the UK is 8 yea

        • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

          "Let's be honest, somebody buying the 1.0L Mondeo is probably going to drive fewer miles than average,"

          I disagree. Not many private buyers are going to buy a big car like a Mondeo with that miserable little engine. Its almost certainly aimed at the bottom end of the fleet market and they will do a lot of miles.

          "General torque curve means much more lower down power, so you have to work the gearbox less."

          At traffic queue speeds the turbo isnt working and the engine will be gutless so it'll actually be more ef

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        I saw a video review of the XC90 with the dual-boost 2.0L engine (it's turbocharged *and* supercharged -- apparently supercharged at low RPM and then turbocharged at higher RPM).

        The power output seemed kind of crazy for such a small engine and I do wonder how long they will hold up before either losing a ton of power and/or needing major rework.

        What I thought was kind of crazy was that fuel consumption wasn't amazing, maybe mid-high 20s average MPG. I own a 2007 S80 with the 4.4L V8 that also used to ship

        • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

          " fuel consumption wasn't amazing, maybe mid-high 20s average MPG."

          You need a given amount of fuel to produce a given amount of power regardless of how big the engine is. Yes the more cylinders you have the greater your frictional and induction losses but they don't really add up to all that much at the end of the day.

          "I'm not sure how they will squeeze 200k out of a 2.0L like that."

          They won't. But by they'll make sure the engine will last up to the warranty period in normal use. Beyond that they don't care

        • it's turbocharged *and* supercharged -- apparently supercharged at low RPM and then turbocharged at higher RPM)

          I would think the opposite with regards to fuel efficiency - mainly turbo, and the supercharger gate closes when extreme power is needed. But otherwise yes, for most power to be available and on-demand, it would be supercharger first, then pile on the turbo later (due to its turbo lag at lower RPM).

          Supercharging is inherently a parasitic process that feeds off the engine to make more. Modern superc

          • I would think the opposite with regards to fuel efficiency - mainly turbo, and the supercharger gate closes when extreme power is needed.

            Volvo is using a butterfly valve and a clutched supercharger, and they ARE doing what the GP said. The supercharger provides low-end boost, and then it's disconnected at high RPMs and the turbo takes over.

            • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

              I bet the life of that clutch will be short and expensive.

              • It sounds like it's basically the same story as an A/C compressor clutch, so it might not be that bad. Say, moderate and moderate.

              • Clutched superchargers are not anything new. The 1988 supercharged MR2 came with such a configuration and "twin-charging" them (adding a turbo kit) was a relatively common performance modification, and that car was amazingly reliable.

          • We played with some superchargers that were driven by brushless electric motors. Ran them just long enough to get the turbo spooled up. They made a huge difference.

      • by mjwx ( 966435 )

        There does seem to be an obsession with shriking engines below what is reasonable (3 cyl 1.0L in a Mondeo?? Hello Ford!) simply to meet CO2 emissions targets.

        Actually its due to tax reasons in most places. Cars with big engines cost more to register.

        In addition to this, engine efficiency has increased to the point where smaller engines are producing more power. The 1L Ecoboost produces in the Mondeo produces 92 KW. That's more than the 1.8L 4cyl Zetec in the first generation Mondeo which produced 88KW.

        However the Mondeo is also available in the 150 and 180KW 2L Ecoboost if the 1L is not to your liking...

        Besides this, the Mondeo is an economy family wago

    • by bgarcia ( 33222 )
      I can understand how a software update to lower emissions would result in less power. But I can't imagine how making an engine less efficient would do so. If that fuel isn't being burned completely to produce power, then it's going to be emitted.
    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      If your country is anything like Canada(in the winter season right now), around the time the diesel scandal broke it was also the same time that winter blends for fuel were being changed over to. Seeing 15% as a drop is within the blend change, to know for sure you'll have to wait until spring.

  • Cars do pollute, despite governments pretending they don't!
  • Anyone pretending that all car companies have done this and are on the shirttails of getting busted are in denial.

    Hell even Chevy had the Diesel Cruze last year, surprisingly, just after Dieselgate broke, it was announced that the Diesel version of the cruze would not return for 2016, and that was chevy's only diesel passenger car (in the US).

  • We need to get an unmolested ECU (Junkyard from totaled car?) and an ECU from a car that went in for this supposed update, then find a way to dump the firmware.

    I bet the folks over at ECUproject.com could help out with this.

    It would be pretty interesting to compare the two.

    Even just getting a 'scope and see how the injector pulses compare at idle and different engine loads, assuming it doesn't use mechanical "jerkbox" injection.

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