New reports are coming up that Volkswagen has set aside 6.5 billion Euros to cater for any fines and penalties slapped on it throughout the world for cheating emission tests. Since the emission-gate started and Volkswagen publicly admitted to cheating these stringent tests, the current leader in auto sales has faced several major setbacks. Over half a million cars are to be forcibly returned to the authorities; the stock price of the blue chip company has plummetted 25%, and prosecutors have their eyes on the top management. Also, the CEO has already announced his resignation, and it is likely that some of the other bigwigs will follow suit that can destabilize one of the biggest automotive empires in the world.
But, knowing VW, it can steer itself out of trouble. It has done so before, and it will do again. The authorities shouldn’t make life difficult for thousands of engineers and other technical staff worldwide that had nothing to do with this systematic rigging of emission tests. The main culprits should be caught in a federal investigation in all affected countries and brought to justice. But, the question all the people are asking is, how were they caught in the first place since they had cleared emission tests from regulators? They were caught by an under-funded NGO working for the betterment of the environment named International Council for Clean Transportation.
Eyebrows were raised from the start when Volkswagen cleared its tests for VW Jetta and Audi A3 diesel cars while claiming extraordinary mileage for both of them. Many technical people knew that the company didn’t have enough time to comply with emission standards and come up with such a good performance engines, so something was wrong. The ICCT was also among the suspicious parties as they knew that these big auto manufacturers have been cheating and hiding design problems in recent times since the arrival of new regulations.
The organization did a simple test in partnership with the University of West Virginia. They took two VWs and a BMW and fitted them with emission testing equipment. A test run was conducted from San Diego to Seattle with the emissions being noted all the time. At the end of the journey, these tests were evaluated, and the researchers were baffled to find that the Volkswagen cars’ emission stats were way above the chart and allowed levels. The VW Jetta alone had 15 to 35 times more emissions than the allowed levels. This was insane for the NGO, and they asked the government to initiate an investigation into the fraudulent emission control software.
Volkswagen thought it would get away with this by playing dumb but now the situation was out of their control, and they decided to come clean. In a public statement by the CTO, the company admitted to using rigged software to bring the emissions down only when it was being tested. In normal driving, the software allowed more emissions to pass through the exhaust pipe into the environment. But when the car was connected to the emissions testing machine, a secondary software code with lower emissions and more fuel consumption was triggered. After this admittance of rigged emission standards, the company has been questioned about its ethical standards, its worldwide image has been thrown into jeopardy and its top management in both the countries will undoubtedly be shown the door and even imprisonment if the case goes nasty.
But this doesn’t mean that the diesel cars cannot be made emission compliant. Even VW cars were emission compliant and gave good mileage when the tests were being manipulated. So, despite what you hear from the frantic media circles about the death of diesel, know that the Diesel can be made more efficient than petrol counterparts. Especially the Hybrid diesel cars will go a long way in improving the environment with their limited emissions. But, we will have to see what will become of poor Volkswagen in the ensuing months.