In September 2015, news broke that VW had cheated its emissions results and cars were emitting up to 20 times the test result. After an investigation, it was found that VW had fitted some of its vehicles with cheating devices that allowed the car to emit low results in test environments but in the real world, the emissions released were much higher. This scandal was nicknamed Dieselgate in the aftermath.
How was the scandal discovered?
Two researchers, Peter Mock and John German, set out to show Europe that clean diesels were possible to manufacture and tested hundreds of models by driving them 1,300 miles. However, by doing this they discovered a much deeper problem. Volkswagen cars were emitting up to 35 times the listed amount. The VW Jetta was one that was found to emit up to 35 times the legal amount, with the Passat up to 20 times the legal amount. After submitting a case to the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Clean Air Board, VW denied any cheating, but it was only when it had its licence for 2016 threatened that it admitted to using cheat devices.
Initially, only 482,000 cars were recalled in the wake of this news, but on September 15th, 2015 VW admitted to fitting the ‘defeat devices’ on nigh 11 million vehicles. An estimated 10 million of these cars were in Europe, and around 500,000 in the USA.
What did the defeat device do?
When the car sensed it was being tested it trapped all NOx inside the engine, but when it sensed it was back on the road it released all that NOx as well as increasing the normal emissions. The reason for needing this excess pollution was thought to be either a fuel-saving exercise or to increase the torque/acceleration of the cars.
It was revealed in September 2015 that the defeat device was fitted on some cars from the following models: the VW Jetta (2009 to 2015), Beetle and Beetle Convertible (2012 to 2015), Passat (2012 to 2015), Jetta SportWagen (2009 to 2014), Golf (2010 to 2015), Golf SportWagen (2015) and the Audi A3 (2010 to 2015).
After further investigation into the matter with associated cars that VW manufactured engines and parts for, such as Porsche, Audi, Skoda etc. In November 2015, the EPA found that the some cars from the following models had also been fitted with defeat devices: VW Touareg (2009 to 2016, the Audi A6 Quattro (2014 to 2016), A7 Quattro (2014 to 2016), A8 and A8L (2014 to 2016), Q5 (2014 to 2016), Q7 (2009 to 2016) and the Porsche Cayenne (2013 to 2016).
For Volkswagen and its associates it meant a huge loss of profits.
A spokesperson for Volkswagen said to PetrolPrices recently “The diesel issue is not what people expected from Volkswagen – we let people down and for that we are very sorry. We see it as a catalyst for change and, indeed, many things have changed within the business since this first came to light. One major aspect is our stated aim to become the world’s biggest producer of electric cars by 2025, with the Volkswagen brand alone producing more than a million by then. Our first dedicated EV will appear next year – the I.D. hatchback, with many more to follow.”
For consumer it meant having repairs done on their vehicles and some people had their cars withdrawn for tests. The lack of trust forced customers to buy from other brands, even if they didn’t like the car. The main effect however was the emissions effect. Due to the dieselgate scandal, it enlightened governments worldwide to the dangers of diesel and petrol cars. They began to introduce measures to cut down on emissions and so forced the consumer into buying hybrid and electric cars that the industry and infrastructure isn’t ready for.