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Estimating Damages From the VW Emissions Scandal ( 109

ckwu writes: Last year, the news broke that in the U.S. almost 600,000 Volkswagen diesel vehicles, model years 2009 to 2015, contain software that altered engine performance and lowered emissions of toxic nitrogen oxides (NOx) during emissions tests but not during normal driving. A new study calculates the societal impact of this extra NOx: 46 excess expected deaths and $430 million in excess damages. U.S. regulators have filed a federal lawsuit against the automaker alleging violations of the Clean Air Act.
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Estimating Damages From the VW Emissions Scandal

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  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @08:47AM (#51335089) Homepage Journal
    Since VW diesel is much more common in the EU, imagine what harm the German manufacturer caused there. Unfortunately I doubt the EU is going to stand up to the lying German corporations, since they fund a lot of the EU activities. So much for the myth of high quality German engineering and standards.
    • Re:Imagine Europe (Score:5, Insightful)

      by shortscruffydave ( 638529 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @08:52AM (#51335105)

      So much for the myth of high quality German engineering and standards.

      Not at all - from what I can tell the defeat device worked flawlessly, so very high quality engineering developed to a high standard

    • As if only EU... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @09:13AM (#51335159) Homepage

      Since VW diesel is much more common in the EU, imagine what harm the German manufacturer caused there. {...} So much for the myth of high quality German engineering and standards.

      Except that VW is far from the only existing car manufacturer.
      And lots of them are NOT in the EU.

      If the first caught lying happened to be Japanese, you would be saying "So much for the myth of Japanese technological innovation."

      What, you expected VW to be the only one lying ? They just happen to have been the first caught doing it.

      Car manufacturer and lying is a redundancy.

      • Nope. No one lies like VW has. "But they all do it" is not an excuse.
        • Nope. No one lies like VW has.

          This is unsubstantiated speculation. How do you know that other manufacturers are not lying now and have not been caught yet?

          "But they all do it" is not an excuse.

          Very true.

        • Nope. No one lies like VW has.


          No. There are just :
          - either those who got caught lying
          - or those who didn't yet.
          (And maybe a couple few exceptions in the middle who forgot that they could be lying).

          "But they all do it" is not an excuse.

          "But they all do it"
          - DOES NOT mean that it should be considered normal
          - DOES MEAN that you can't just single out the random one which by (lack of) chance happen to have been caught. You can't consider VW, or all german manufacturer worse than everybody else. They are not worse than everybody, but n

        • by Anonymous Coward

          VW is the only manufacturer that has admitted to cheating and they did so as soon as they found out about it. So far all other manufacturers have denied - even the ones that were caught redhanded. Hence, VW is the only car manufacturer that is certainly not lying.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Japanese manufacturers largely gave up on diesel because they couldn't meet the emissions standards. Mazda, for example, used to have a range of diesels in Europe but in recent years pulled back from that market. That's one reason why they are so big on hybrids and alternative fuels - it's the only way they can compete on MPG with the cheating diesel engines.

        • by matfud ( 464184 )

          Mazda sell diesels in the UK as well

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

            Yep, and they are not very competitive because they don't cheat. You either have to make them expensive (clean the emissions up) or low MPG (to produce less emissions), or cheat.

          • by matfud ( 464184 )

            Just pointing out that Mazda still do market and sell diesel cars. I have not seen them leaving even if they cheat the tests.

            So you are incorrect

    • So much for the myth of high quality German engineering and standards.

      Hey the engineers who graduated at the bottom of their class need to go somewhere and my experience from late 90s early 2000s VW seems to indicate that they all work for VW.

  • by jrumney ( 197329 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @09:02AM (#51335119)
    These figures remind me of software metrics. Management loves them and thinks it lets them put a dollar (and lives) figure on some random event, but in all reality they are meaningless, constructed from a formula pulled out of some overpaid consultant's arsehole.
    • meaningless, constructed from a formula pulled out of some overpaid consultant's arsehole

      The trick is, if one is to accept such formulae and conclusions, the DOT is responsible for wanton mass murder [].

      Most people don't see it that way. On the other hand, most people only care about intent, not outcomes. #thefeels

      Somebody could probably put a similar headcount on the costs of driving VW out of business. Good luck with those retrospective, non-predictive, non-measurable calculations.

    • They remind me of the Drake Equation [].

  • Damage (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Well, let's see... the damage includes all the tornado damage in Texas from December 26, the water crisis in Flint, starving kids in China, all those dying animals found on the ASPCA beg-a-thon infomercials, and Trump's hair. Might as well throw the housing market debacle in there as well.

  • by Grand Facade ( 35180 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @09:08AM (#51335141)

    They passed the test.

    It's obvious the test is/was broken!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Lets see = it gives BETTER fuel economy - that's an awful lot of economic savings.
      Breathing in unburnt fuel cant be good.
      People filling their cars suffer increased exposure to fumes - saving lives
      If this mode can be activated by normal driving, then the numbers will be wrong

      So we have some model that excludes the positives.Go on then, take your car in to collect it with WORSE fuel economy.

      The real kicker is to do the same math on cigarettes - and compare the number of lives.

    • They passed the test.

      No, you don't understand. They did not pass the test. The rules of the test prohibit defeat devices. You don't make a touchdown if you run out of bounds first, and you don't pass the test if you use a defeat device to appear to be able to meet the numbers.

      On the other hand, the idea that you can actually count deaths due to VW's actions is a sad joke. You can't. 46 deaths due to air pollution are well below the level of noise. Over 50k people allegedly die in the US yearly due to air pollution []. Take that nu

      • This is kind of silly, "Do whatever you want but don't let us catch you coloring outside the lines."

        They should not be singling out VW, What about the rest of the OEM's, BMW, GM for sure, and I have not heard of any Asian makers (yet) involved. (Maybe they covered their tracks better?)

        • This is kind of silly, "Do whatever you want but don't let us catch you coloring outside the lines."

          Games have rules, life has rules, emissions tests have rules, don't expect to pass the test if you don't follow the rules. It's not unusual, it's how life works. Why am I having to explain life to you? How old are you?

          They should not be singling out VW, What about the rest of the OEM's, BMW, GM for sure, and I have not heard of any Asian makers (yet) involved. (Maybe they covered their tracks better?)

          Companies have been cheating on emissions tests about as long as we've had emissions tests. VW is getting caught right now and singled out because they are blatantly cheating. They are completely disabling emissions system features while the vehicle is in motion. The rules are explicitly desig

    • I've looked and I haven't found an answer, the real question is: Since the automotive emissions are tested in a controlled environment, is the a requirement for auto to meet the same standards on the roads, or is this something everybody just assumes to be the case?

  • In the free market economy, one would imagine the punishment for this fantastic deceit would be the near or total ruination of the company.

    However, we have but to look to the GM side saddle fuel tanks, the Ford Pinto IED, and the Toyota floor mat auto pilot feature to realize the buying public has the attention span of a fruit fly.

    So yes, a rather large fine is in order.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The buying public is more intelligent than you give them credit for. They know that this is a show trial, in a country where people drive trucks that they call "sport utility vehicles" to the Whole Foods because there are no sidewalks on which to walk there and cycling in traffic would be suicide, not that anybody would walk or ride a bike anyway.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Here's the reason why I want a full refund. I traded in my 4x4 because my commute to work increased from 30 miles/day to 105 miles /day. A TDI was a perfect match for it. Now keep in mind a new TDI requires more maintenance but the high efficiency more than compensates for it. I purchased my TDi new on 5/18/2015 completely loaded with a 400w Fender Stereo, RNS510 NAV/head unit, dual climate control, power sunroof, black VTEX interior, halon projector headlights. averaging 62mpg for long road trips

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ray-auch ( 454705 )

      Firstly - no one knows what the performance cost of compliance will be yet, no fix has yet been approved. If they retro-fit an AdBlue SCR it may be negligible.

      Secondly, it isn't clear that any other car or mfr would be better, you could have bought an Opel instead - they are currently silently updating cars during services to reduce emissions (and allegedly performance according to some reports I've seen) - []

      Thirdly, once the dust settles on this the VW engines might even be

  • Did they just loo at the total cars and assume nobody would have bought that car? Or did they calculate the difference of what was advertised and what was reality?

    In Belgium when asked, people did not really care and would buy the car anyway. Having a sunroof or not is more important.

    That said: as they did pas the test, is not the test what has failed? It is like using a ping test to see if a website is up and running.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Wednesday January 20, 2016 @09:45AM (#51335283) Journal
    The American Congress is the best legislature in the world money can buy. Already the House has introduced bills that will limit and protect VW from the common citizen. Senate is going to follow suit. So VW will be safe.

    There is a law that says you can't change the law in a way it adversely affects you restrospectively. That is the principle under which some old products are exempted from food labeling, ingredient disclosure requirements, and the rule under which coal power plants operate under older pollution standards. So the affected citizen can claim "the new law can not take away my right to sue VW retrospectively". But VW is safe there too. The claim has to be adjudicated by the Roberts court. There is no court in the world that is more friendly than Roberts' court for Corporations, who are people. So all bases are covered.

    But still there are some appeals courts and district courts that show autonomy. The issue will soon be fixed by TPP. Corportate lawyers will form arbitration boards and hear complaints argued by other corporate lawyers, who would be sitting as arbitrators in other proceedings where these arbitrators will be pleading for their clients. It is all chummy-chummy clubby atmosphere with lots of give and take. The arbitrators give tax payer funds and the corporations take it.

    So let us all look forward to this brave new world.

  • "the societal impact of this extra NOx: 46 excess expected deaths and $430 million in excess damages."

    Let me guess - these numbers were output by a computer model and can't be verified (and, no, you cannot see the source code).
  • They poisoned the water and for months, covered up the problem. But no one will be fined, no one will go to jail, and probably, no one will ever fix the issue. Meanwhile your taxes will then go to supporting kids with crippling brain damage as a result. So the governor could pocket a few bucks.

    The point is: what VW did is no different from what anybody else is doing -- we're all screwing each other for a few bucks. Why is one bad while the other is not bad?

    • Travel advice: when in Mexico or Michigan, don't drink the water.

  • Really? I suppose this is from people running their cars in their garage? I don't believe it.
    • by Willuz ( 1246698 )
      Using this same logic I can create ridiculous "facts" too.

      Consuming 6 liters of water in one hour can cause water intoxication and death.
      Americans drink an average of 42 gallons of water per year.
      42 gallons per year * 316 million people * 3.78 liters per gallon / 6 liters / 8760 hours in a year = 954,493 people killed by drinking water in the US * each year.

      * (results do not account for water quality in Flint, MI)
  • CAFE standards have cost the lives of between 41,600 to 124,800 people. VW are strictly amateurs compared to the US government.
  • Why are we still discussing the misdoings of VW? The long haul tractor trailer based industry has barely any emissions restrictions to deal with. With thousands over thousands of trucks carrying goods across the country the question to discuss is how to drastically reduce this insanity by moving more freight to rail and putting clean engines into the trucks that are still needed. The few dirty Golfs are almost negligible compared to the poison and sud spewing out of the pipes of trucks every single minute.
  • We went to trade in our 2009 Jetta gasoline car and found out that in the previous month KBB (Kelly Blue Book) [] had dropped the trade in value from $6500 to $4000 in one month from this. It had nothing to do with diesel. I've personally lost $2500 to these assholes and will never buy another VW, let alone a diesel VW.

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