After Volkswagen Revelation, Auto Emissions Tests Come Under Global Scrutiny

Questions are increasing about the wisdom of allowing carmakers to have so much influence on how air pollution standards are enforced.

Comments: 156

  1. Self policing? Isn't that putting the fox in charge of the hen house?
    The results are always the same-no hens.

  2. No hens is a negative for foxes. Clever foxes keep their predation at a sustainable, preferably undetectable, level.

  3. No, self policing is like putting the hens in charge of the hen house.

  4. That the EPA cannot or will not determine the exact measurement of pollutants in every make and model renders it a bad joke. The same goes for its ludicrous process of estimating MPG when it could simply drive the cars. What are we, stupid? Yep.

  5. All measurements have a range of results for the same variable. They it with you bathroom scale. We want the pollutants below specified levels.

    Different people drive differently, they drive over different routs, and under different conditions. If your car can display mpg you will see that the mileage pulling away from a stop is a third that cruising on the highway, much less going down hill. So, we want representative mileage values.

  6. If the EPA were well-funded, they might be able to do just that.

  7. Self-policing for industry: what could possibly go wrong? - auto, finance, petrochemical, medical ... Why not let the rest of us self-police in our daily lives? Let convicted prisoners self-regulate? I promise that if I break any laws, I will then self-prosecute, self-judge, self-convict, self-sentence, and self-incarcerate, self-parole. Absurd.

  8. In the US the EPA does random checking, and that is different from self-policing. The auto makers will conduct the tests as one step in product development. It is to their advantage to get it sufficiently right that EPA won't send them back to the design phase.

  9. Actually, in many third world counties the prisoners do run the prisons. This has helped to engender the entrepreneurial spirit that underlies successful economies, and to train drug lords to thrive.

    If we return to this model in the automobile industry, we can be confident that marketing successes such as the Ford Pinto will return as well. Pharma has already demonstrated its success, as has finance, despite that small blip in 2008.

  10. Dont forget about self-deporting.

  11. Diesel is dirty fuel, both in how it is produced and used. Why any government or consumer bought into the idea that it could be clean is beyond me. I can understand that mileage rates can vary but proper emissions testing is done with very tight specs and there is no excuse for it to be done poorly unless the outcome is predetermined or the testing agency does not care about pollution. And there is simply no way a diesel fueled vehicle can pass an emissions test.

  12. Like so many problems today, this one stems from a violation of rules we teach to children, in this case "don't let the wolf guard the hen house".

  13. chickens v. fox
    sheep v. wolf

    But your point is a good one.

  14. Self regulating is a joke in any industry and not just a problem with automotive. Profit is the driving factor and any additional cost whether it is for environmental or personal safety reasons is only done due to regulations and the penalties associated with these regulations.
    The Republican claim that we are over regulated and that big government is only looking to reap some sort of financial gain from regulations is not only misleading but a downright lie. Regulations are usually a result of injuries to people or the environment that companies either through negligence or purposeful omission produce products that are harmful.
    History has shown us that without regulations companies do not act in the best interest of the public, but only strive to increase the bottom line profits. These actions are defended by the Republicans under the guise of capitalism and free markets. It’s the public that must show companies such as Volkswagen that there will be a financial penalty not only from the EPA, but loss of sales.
    It’s the loss of product sales that gets the attention of all companies, so ultimately it’s the public and not the government that can force companies to be responsible for the products they produce, not because it’s the right thing to do, but it will ultimately be the more profitable path to take.

  15. So why do we believe that their gasoline engine emissions measurements aren't lies also? How about a recall of EVERY Volkswagen in the last decade?

  16. We must extend your argument to all cars...

  17. This fraud--as huge as it seems to be--nevertheless ironically underscores the massive health benefits of the EPA protecting against the insidious effects of toxic exhaust fumes. In the early 70's the carmakers cried foul and claimed it would put them out of business when pollution regulations first ramped up. The choking unregulated car exhaust fumes during traffic jams in the 60's are still a bad memory. Nowadays cars have more smooth power then ever and are far less insidious to the atmosphere and people's health. Volkswagen will be forced back into compliance, and steady progress toward healthier air will be largely unaffected.

  18. We forget what it was like when a '58 Chevy was belching exhaust into the air. On a recent trip to Havana, I found myself breathless as smoke belched from old cars. Can you imagine the air if millions of NJ or California commuters were still driving cars with leaded gas and not up to the standards enforced by the EPA? I drive a Prius, I get 50 miles to the gallon, not so many years ago, car manufacturers said these kind of standards were impossible. The same day I bought my car, a colleague bought a VW diesel. Diesel at the time was cheaper and he argued endlessly about his car, which had oomph, compared to my golf cart. I hope he remembers those conversations, just as I hope he remembers when I told them that going into Iraq was folly.

  19. Strong whistleblower laws and protections for them will go a long way in these investigations. There are many ground level employees who care more about the long term health of the companies they work for rather than the greedy, destructive actions their bosses are doing. Once the gates are opened I think we should expect a flood!

  20. This is why regulation is important in any industry, people are always trying to either make a buck or gain power - either way, when people's lives are at risk it makes regulation even more important.

  21. You already live in a mixed economy!

  22. The global markets are a sea of red again today. WE MUST REGULATE GREED. Greed is over-the-top rampant in the corporate/financial world. We must seriously regulate them and OUR government must hire enough regulators to enforce the regulations - and outside agencies to audit the regulators - until America, and the rest of the world, are back to non-criminal-corporate-financial behavior as we were until ALEC/Wall Street enthroned Ronald Reagan as their mouthpiece in the White House to disassemble the best democracy in the world - OUR American democracy.

  23. Inadequate regulation of banks brought us the 2008 financial crisis. Bernie Madoff is an example of self-regulation in the investment industry - it didn't end well.

    Martin Shkreli self-regulated drug prices, increasing the price of one drug 5,000% Had be been less greedy, and spread the increase over several years, he'd have gotten away with it.

    Time and time again, self-regulation works out to no regulation. It's time to face reality: if something is worth regulating at all, it needs to be on a "trust, but verify" basis, with the verification performed by a neutral government agency.

  24. You don't live in a market economy(self-regulation etc), you live in a mixed economy(i.e. government intervention etc).

  25. Self-regulation works out to something worse than no regulation -- namely, the illusion of regulation, an illusion that is carefully sustained and perfected to make sure that reality remains safely hidden. The result is violation of regulations that seems less extreme than no regulation at all, with an occasional violator thrown to the wolves to preserve the illusion. But no regulation at all is not a stable situation, while the illusion of regulation is worse because it can persist for decades.

  26. Self-regulation is NO regulation; it is an invitation to cheating and disaster. VW is the tip of the iceberg, at least where the US is concerned. For over a century America has had the interpenetration of business and government, in which regulatory agencies operate under the revolving door principle, personnel moving freely from one to the other, a favorable rating in government ensuring a plush position in industry or finance. In truth, regulation is a sad joke, promoted by the affected parties to fool the public by giving assurance of the safety of the product or its value.

    This started with railroads and the Interstate Commerce Commission in the late 1880s, in effect, government certification of of legitimacy, followed by the Bureau of Corporations under TR, the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Reserve System under Wilson, NRA under FDR, etc., so that today no informed person regards regulation as other than a sham or protective shield for that which is to be regulated.

    No one should be surprised about VW; capitalism is capitalism, the business community the final arbiter of the public good. Hence, self-regulation even when, or especially when, designated agencies are in place.

  27. I feel for the consumers who purchased these vehicles because they wanted to do something positive for this world - have a vehicle with high fuel mileage and low emissions - only to find out now that the vehicles they own have no pollution controls and the vehicles will have a significantly reduced resale value. Imposing a recall on these cars will in essence give the consumer a car with degraded performance.
    The EPA needs to increase their testing measures on all cars. The EPA should be the body that issues the mileage and fuel economy figures, NOT the manufacturer who dream up 'perfect real world' scenarios to 'test' their vehicles. The cost of the increased, necessary, oversight should be placed on the manufactures NOT on the taxpayer. VW got caught, but I am sure they are not the only manufacturer with nefarious code in their emissions control systems.

  28. Lower resale value? Maybe IF the owner takes it in for the fix. There is a juicy moral dilemma for owners now. Get the car fixed and lose mileage and performance (which by the way means more CO2 emission) or leave it as it is and fix the NOX emission. I'll bet less than 1/3 of owners will get the fix

  29. You can expect a Republican led effort in Congress not to fund any EPA enforcement related to these cars. Their strategy is to starve regulatory agencies from doing their jobs.

  30. Is this fudge restricted only to VW for its diesel cars or is it also done by other auto manufacturers who sell them? Does it extend to petrol cars too, by VW and others?

  31. While self-policing sounds absurd in its face, in some cases we the people (government) have to rely on industry to establish testing of complex systems like auto manufacturing. The govt cannot be expected to set up a parallel auto industry just to police the commercial one. Over time, once the knowledge and technology become established, it became viable to set up independent testing labs. What we now have in the US works well, with independent laboratories that report their findings to govt agencies like the EPA.

    That said, there has always been hucksterism in car sales. Especially in car sales. Have you ever fully believed in the stated fuel-mileage MPG figure that is on the stickers? Never mind the salesman convincing you with all his power that the number is the absolute truth, while real-world driving clearly showed the number is way lower than stated. You always have to discount for hyperbole or baloney, wherever there is sales pitching and haggling, like car-buying in America used to be and still is.

  32. So what about the tax breaks for these supposedly "clean," environmentally friendly cars? Are those going to be clawed back? Who's going to pay? Seems like car buyers got sold a bill of goods. VW should pay back the full purchase price of these cars and recall them for the scrap heap. But they won't. These diesel cars, which last longer than standard gas-powered cars, will end up polluting the air in some big, unregulated used car market like India. Those at VW who knowingly participated in this fraud should get serious jail time.

  33. Why was the Volkswagen CEO granted a golden parachute after he inflicted such a serious blow to the value of the company. He should be required to compensate VW not get a golden parachute!

  34. The current scandal shows just how unjust our legal system is.

    GM can knowingly sell car that kill people and no criminal penalty is levied. Banksters rob millions of their pensions and homes, yet the banksters are the only ones made whole after the system crashed.

    Republicans love to bash government as being ineffective and the media rarely calls them on it. The EPA did not create the spill in the Animas River this summer- a contractor did. Had professional EPA staff handled the project the results would have probably been better.

    We need government testing- not done on the honor system and not by captive regulators. The SEC did not do it's job before the market crashed and Holder's Justice Department did not punish one bankster because of conflict of interest.

    If VW cheated they should be punished, but let this be an object lesson on the values of corporations. They play by heads I win tails you lose.

  35. "Self-policing" is an oxymoron.

    No person or company can objectively police themselves. Not the police, not doctors, not auto-makers. This is a scientific fact and has been proven over and over again.

    Republicans believe individual responsibility is all that's needed, that government regulation is unnecessary and impedes progress and growth. Nonsense. Without impartial, objective oversight, we have fraud, corporate malfeasance, doctors getting away with harming patients, and let's not even start on the lawyers and banks.

    Why this message is so hard for people to understand and accept is beyond me, but it does great harm to our country.

  36. Again , the fallacy of self regulation. Whether it is the oil industry( Valdez and Deepwater blowout), the financial collapse( flash crash, Enron, derivatives, S&L, the recent turmoils), auto( GM IGNITION, VW EMISSION). Hello Repubs, another of your ideas that does not work.

  37. Self-policing or regulation has always been a bad idea. But it allows the lobbyists and legislators to paper over the problems that exist without enforcing real standards.

    The Volkswagen scandal may rock the stock markets ---especially if such a large and respected company goes under. The larger question remains: how many other industries have skated by without proper oversight? And what is the threat to public safety. We hope the press does not allow this issue to fade with the remediation necessary in the Volkswagen case. It is NOT just the automobile industry that should be under the spotlight.

    And we should remember that there is probably going to be significant financial cost in having the government actually do comprehensive oversight over businesses which currently march to their own drummer.

  38. Key selling factors for cars are: 0-60mph (0-100kph), HP, torque, size, and lastly MPG (not as much as a factor in the US). Reliability is expected across the board. We should expect considerable bias, if not cheating in all of those categories.

    - 0-60 times are routinely busted by car magazines.
    - any car enthusiast will tell you HP/torque number seldom match disclosed numbers no matter how rigorous the dyno test. people go to extreme lengths of buying speciality fuels to reach disclosed numbers
    - cubic feet of interior space is also exaggerated, especially for hatchbacks and SUVs
    - MPG was certainly exaggerated by Hyundai and Kia and they paid penalties.
    - Recalls are always managed to be "voluntary" or "soft" recalls to main the reliability image high

    The incentives to cheat are very high.

    If I want to sell my house, I have to verify the sqf, disclose repairs and problems, data of major upgrades, and much more toxic, flood, engineering risk. The listing better be accurate or else. Yet, companies worth dozens of billions in value sell cars with number that cannot be verified accurately. What gives?

  39. Self-regulation is an oxymoron. There is no regulation when there is 'self-regulation'.

  40. In the corporate world, "self-policing" is a euphemism for "no-policing."

  41. I just returned from a conference on energy efficiency. Voices, refreshingly mainly from U.S. equipment manufacturers, encouraged stronger verification, monitoring and enforcement. Globally.
    I recall an earlier meeting where one U.S. industry representative called a European government official who advocated for industry's self-certification, as being rather naive. Indeed, smart business leaders do believe in "trust but verify".

  42. Self regulation is what the laissez faire crowd says is all that any industry needs, since the market will correct all evils.

  43. Note to the faith-based GOP: If self-policing works why continually trot out the 10 Commandments? Seems like excessive regulations.

  44. Brilliant and thanks for your thought.

  45. The outrage at VW is misplaced. I own one of the cars in question. I bought it not because it was "clean diesel" although I have no objection to that. I bought it because it was affordable, I drive it hard, it's durable, it's sporty unlike a Prius, and it gives me about 40mpg for my mostly highway miles. Less than 5% of Americans drive diesels (compared to about 50% or more of Europeans). The exhaust that these cars emit is insignificant in the big picture. How is it that no other auto manufacturer has attempted to bring diesels passenger cars here in a big way? We know the answer now: It's next to impossible given the onerous emissions standards on diesels. The outrage should be directed at the regulators who obviously do not want diesels on our roads. They will get their wish. If any other manufacturer was even thinking about it, that's over now.

  46. Well, Jerry, the "big picture" is of little solace to a parent with an asthmatic child. Particulates, my friend, particulates.

    Diesels aren't dead yet. Audi uses their 3.0 diesel in cars sold here. Mercedes Benz and BMW sells diesels here and they seem to work - cleanly. If testing shows these manufacturers to be cheating as well, goodbye diesel - and good riddance.

  47. I owned a 2009 Jetta TDI. It was a lemon with the endless quality problems VW is apparently becoming famous for: undocumented "check engine" codes that are (allegedly) fixed with software updates, a fuel pump that disintegrates after three years because "US diesel is low quality" (according to a VW engineer), not to mention knobs falling off a week after we took it new off of the lot. The emissions scandal is just icing on the cake. Fortunately (for me) I traded it in a few months ago. I feel sorry for the person that bought it.

    The exhaust these cars emit is *not* insignificant. Diesel pollution has been conclusively proven dangerous. The whole point of these cars was that they were MagicCleanDiesel™ that let us have our 45mpg cake and clean air too. If such a car cannot be built – and it is obvious it cannot be done by VW – then we should look to electric, hybrid or even (gasp!) increasingly efficient and comparatively clean gasoline. If diesel is dead for passenger cars, there's a good reason for it.

  48. You say that "Less than 5% of Americans drive diesels. . . . The exhaust that these cars emit is insignificant in the big picture." If they are emitting 20 times the NOXs, as claimed, then that little 5% has emitted as much NOX as the other 95%--hardly insignificant!

    You also claim that we (in the US) place "onerous emissions standards on diesels." The emission requirements aren't onerous for diesels, it's just that diesels must meet roughly the same standards as for the Otto-cycle engines found in most cars. This isn't an easy standard for diesel engines, turbocharged or not, to meet. Maybe we need to address the fact that high performance/economy/drivability diesel engined automobiles simply isn't possible at this point in time, even though you and I might wish it to be so.

  49. No one in a position of power actually thinks 'self policing' is effective, it's just another 'pro-business' catchphrase that means businesses are free to do whatever they want. That's what happens when big business buys out the government as if it was just another under-performing asset. A major refocus on regulations with teeth is the only way forward.

  50. Interesting to think that all the Repub candidates would probably do away completely with the EPA. Wonder how VW diesel owners now feel about voting for the idea of "self regulating industry" that these anti-big government espouse?

  51. The idea of corporate self-policing was never anything more than an example of corporate-government collusion which sacrifices concern for public safety for increased corporate profits - just one of countless examples. The Times referring to "self-policing" as one of two regulatory "gold standards" suggests a corporate-government-media collusion - and there are countless examples to support this, as well.

  52. Rather than require static emissions testing of every car (where such is required). the EPA would be better advised to test a statistically significant sampling of cars from each manufacturer under real world driving conditions. Then using the tenets of statistical process control the EPA would get a truer picture of automobile pollution by vehicle and region. Moreover this method of testing would catch "defeat devices" like the type VW was using and would save millions of Americans the cost and time of having to take their automobiles in for emissions testing.

  53. "Deregulation is a benefit for consumers." Remember when that was the mantra? Bring back Ma Bell.

  54. Why are profit driven corporations trusted to "self-police" when, in sharp contrast, individual citizens and communities are too often violently policed, and given punishments that are humiliating, debilitating, and deadly?

  55. The most important idea to take away from this scandal is the one thing that no one is highlighting. The GOVERNMENT REGULATORS discovered this because of GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS. All those Republicans that endlessly chant the mantra, "government regulations are bad" are curiously silent when these things occur...

  56. It was discovered by university researchers using a tiny grant. The fed regulators missed it entirely.

  57. Actually it was a group of academic researchers who discovered this. I don't think our government has the goods to do anything like this. Their bar is way too low and we all know how competent the staff is inside the Beltway.

  58. I think someone in Congress needs to take a look at this, because this is going to destroy jobs and wealth across the country at a massive scale! Any Senator or Representative with auto manufacturers or suppliers in their state had better think long and hard about this, as the downstream effects could be very severe. How important is it to worry about the emissions from a few vehicles from a niche manufacturer vs. how important is it to worry about the jobs of your constituents? Better think about it, Mr. Congressman - you want to keep your job, maybe you should be thinking how to reign in a rogue EPA that's hell-bent on destroying American jobs!

  59. I worked in the pharmaceutical industry and saw where a lack of enforcement of regulation can lead. As my boss explained it to me "You see, be make a billion dollars on drug A, which we know has some uncomfortable side effects, such as death. Eventually the FDA investigates, slaps us with a fine of say 10 million. We're still up 990 million. It's just the cost of doing business."

    This was the head of Quality Assurance and she said this so matter-of-factly it may have been part of the business plan. In addition, despite the company having high revenues and a growing business, they routinely employed illegal aliens, who were hired through a third party contractor and were paid lower than minimum wage. This is where corporate greed has gotten us. When I raised concerns about quality and safety, I was shown the door.

  60. You take the money - you leave your principles at the door. Once you're inside a company THE COMPANY's concerns had better be YOUR concerns. You want to work? You want a job? Face it - you're for sale - and the buyer tells you what to do, what to think, what to believe, what to hear, what to say, and when to do/think/believe/hear/say it. You want to be "principled"? Go stand in the unemployment line!

  61. Self-policisng in business is an oxymoron, a contradiction employed to mask the intolerable.
    A fig leaf for legislatures who are unwilling or unable to control powerful interests. I have always suspected that at bottom leaders believe that supporting the financial well-being of corporations is of more importance for the economy than protecting people from frauds. They think that the relatively small amount that each one of us loses is less harmful than the loss of profits for business, hence their tolerance of errors and misdeeds….until these are revealed and then every politician exclaims that he is shocked, shocked by what has been going on.

  62. Can someone please cite an example of where self policing works for any major industry?

  63. What is truly astounding is that these human beings thought they knew enough about their own future to dismiss a vast body of evidence that demonstrates that emission regulation is one small way to address a problem that is threatening all our futures, including theirs. Don't they have younger members of their families?

    In what world did they think it was OK to throw away a vast body of evidence about danger to the whole of humanity on our hospitable planet for the sake of short-term profit?

  64. I think they did it because they have durability problems with the pollution control components.

  65. VW decided to do this because they knew that our government is incompetent!

    Instead of trying to shutdown the government, our Senators and Representatives be working to have an efficient and effective government.

    The SEC needs to be given more power & resources and the EPA should be doing all of the emissions testing. They need to install a backbone in the FAA also.

    Oh, and a bunch of VW execs and engineers need to be sent to jail. With the same fate for the next round of white collar fraudsters.

  66. Well it was ultimately on the line to happen, With the fall of Volkswagen stock due to EPA scandal and the software everyone was hoping something like this. But came through a positive side for all this especially for electric cars. I came across an article
    which states the rare earth metals can gain due to this and US could consider reactivating the production of this at home rather than China which are useful for electric cars. Interesting! I think so.

  67. I worked in the enterprise software industry and it was well known that we would optimize our software to perform better on the benchmark tests at the expense of real world performance. The best and brightest went into this area. There were so many subtleties that it was a great brain teaser how to do it most effectively.

    This is all just a symptom of the structure of corporations giving their highest allegiance to the shareholders at the expense of everyone else including customers.

  68. You hit it right on the nail -- Corporations think their only concern are their shareholders, not customers. News flash: Without customers, the shareholders' shares are worthless.

  69. Corporate self-regulation is the classic example of a self-contradictory term. There is little, if any, motivation to self-regulate. The fact is that profitability almost always trumps the costs. Even fines are eventually passed on to the consumer. Prison terms? Virtually unheard of and thus no great disincentive either.

  70. We have been paying the EPA to regulate and they have been asleep at the switch.

    The EPA is now acting like they had no responsibility to detect the fraud, just like the SEC had no responsibility to detect Madoff. If we are going to rely on whistleblowers, lets eliminate the EPA and turn to the private sector to detect malfeasance.

  71. I think that when the entire story is known it will be apparent that this was the result of actions by a group of rogue third-world software contractors who took it upon themselves to upload what amounts to a virus into the emissions control systems of these cars. I am confident that Volkswagen AG, a major provider of jobs world-wide, would never knowingly take such actions, and as such it is incumbent upon regulators across the globe to focus their investigations directly on the perpetrators of this scandal, i.e. the programmers who wrote and installed this viral software, rather than going after executives who could have had no idea that this kind of activity was transpiring. Pursuing charges against high-level individuals at Volkswagen would be akin to pursuing charges against George W. Bush for the actions of a few rogue CIA agents and managers vis-a-vis the so-called waterboarding/torture issue. So let's all focus on the real problem - where did the bad software come from, who wrote it, and who installed it. That's where you'll find the culpable parties.

  72. Sarcasm, right?

  73. would be akin to pursuing charges against George W. Bush for the actions of a few rogue CIA agents and managers vis-a-vis the so-called waterboarding/torture issue."

    What an excellent idea, but be sure to include Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Yoo!

  74. Right, Bob, management would never consider doing such a thing. It must be "rogue third-world software contractors." Hilarious! Bob, you're a born comedian. You clearly need to read what happened with the infamous Ford Pinto case of the early 1970s and the GM deVille/Seville case of the early 1990s when an engine control chip was installed to stop stalling by injecting more fuel into the engines when the heating/air conditioning system was activated but in the process resulted in the emission of massive amounts of CO into the environment. Wait: that could have been the work of other rogue third world engine-control chip contractors too!

  75. Greed will always come back to bite, yet human nature still makes us think we just might be able to get away with it. Self regulation is a joke. Our governments are the only hope of catching the cheaters, but so many times, small penalties make the risk worthwhile.

  76. The fact is, diesels are sought mainly for their higher mileage, their principal buying appeal. Diesel's polluting property can be safely assumed to be of little or no interest to diesel-owners. When they claim otherwise, smile broadly (they happily pay more tax for the privilege).

    This the auto guys know. No matter what the emission, it makes no difference to the end consumer, they will shell out the money and buy, as long as the mileage promise is good. Sure, if the dirty secret about pollution can be made err, less dirty, all the better, a win-win situation. Existing owners look cleaner, new converts line-up.

    You won't find no self-policing here, all involved appear to think it's just a pesky bureaucratic problem. Safe to assume therefore, that the lie has and is being propagated on both sides of the pond, with tacit approval of consumers. Except, as this article points out, while perfected to art form in Europe, the lying comically sloppy in the U.S.

    Sure VW deserve to pay billions in fines, but only to the truly injured party in this scam, the EPA and their environmental constituents. Diesel-owners deserve to be compensated too, but only for being made to look foolish and because of lost resale value.

    To others like myself, thank you VW for the laughs clueless CEO and all. Keep on chuggin'.

  77. Disagree. Many people bought diesels as opposed to hybrids because of the "clean diesel" perception of both less pollution and less oil use. Plus with diesel you get decent performance, whereas Priuses are the butts of endless jokes for their sluggishness.

    VW sold the clean diesel thing hard; people didn't get the product advertised.

  78. "High mileage" (MPG) is a strange criterion. Miles-per-dollar, or even miles-per-tank, would be far more sensible. If it were possible for a car to use tap water for fuel we'd all buy it even if it managed only 6 MPG.

  79. The diesel-owners paid more tax than gasoline and still do. Guess why? So much for the drive-clean argument. The advertising was meant to make diesel-owners look less polluting, therefore more politically correct. Obviously it worked. As for Prius, it's the best-selling hybrid in U.S., over 1.8m sold to date, close to 200,000 in annual sales. Compare with VW's 500,000 recalled vehicles of all shapes and sizes total since 2009. Incredibly funny!

    Sure these folk should get compensated but let's face it, only for false ads they fell readily for, and they can no longer repeat. Asking for all their money back is just over-the-top self-righteous greed. More like 10% of invoice capped at $3,000 minus $1500 to lawyers.

  80. This scandal was unearthed by researchers at a public institution - West Virginia University. The conservatives relentlessly cut support for state higher education - but this is what we need these institutions for. They ask and answer hard questions that no one else is paying attention to.
    This institution should apply for and receive whistle-blower rewards for their remarkable service to the public. Better yet, they should receive the ongoing public support that they so richly deserve and we so greatly benefit from.
    Public service of the highest order - we must support it.

  81. Sounds like bad faith, but the news usually leaves out who the winner is:
    The customer. Reading between the lines, the tweak lets the engine run leaner and hotter with less pumping loss. This is probably why VW diesels have generated such spectacular real-world mpg numbers, doing noticeably better on the road than the official sticker indicates.

    Most people, the 85 who are driving in rush hour traffic and who do no develop the habit of timing stoplights to reduce stops and coasting whenever a stop can t be avoided get less than the posted mpg. VW diesel owner tend to get more, with just normal driving in real traffic and fantastic numbers on the highway. The software cheat is probably why.

  82. All diesels have no throttle plates, the intrinsic cause of "pumping loss" in gasoline engines. High compression ratio is the other main contributor to superior diesel efficiency.

  83. This is so simple. The EPA sets up a common standard--a certain kind of track (road) where they can duplicate real-world conditions including weather, traffic, payload variations, etc.--and then tests every car. The auto makers can test them all they want but they can't publish their "results"--the only results that count are the results from EPA tests. Sure, the EPA will have a big expense in dealing with this, but the auto manufacturers will pay for it.

    Until then, it's easier to shop for a car be picking a company that has not been part of some massive scandal.

  84. I'm in favor of more EPA and NHTSA testing, but whether the car companies pay for it or taxes pay for it, YOU and I pay for it. Are we willing to do this?

  85. How much does it cost us not to do it? Owners of TDI Volkswagens would like to know.

  86. I am willing to pay a bit more given that the alternative is to breath the stuff coming out of that tailpipe. Bear in mind that the 11M VW cars that violated the standards resulted in the equivalent of an ADDITIONAL 200-440M cars worth of emissions. For comparison, the ENTIRE US car fleet is 253M cars...

  87. You'd think that "self-policing" of any kind would be instantly suspect to the point of never being allowed to occur. That that is obviously not the case is what needs a causal explanation. Can't wait to see that article.

  88. Govt regulation is not a panacea either. It's common in India for employees of the regulation branch to ask for standing bribes - $xxx per month - irrespective of whether a factory is breaking any rules. Paying off these officials is cost of doing business. I'm not sure whether the bribes are higher if you break the rules.

  89. Last I checked we are the leaders of the free world via a democratic elected government that follows and enforces the rule of law.

  90. Check again.

  91. This is the result of corrupt congresspeople ruling against "over-regulation", and allowing industry to "self-regulate". Again, this regulation should be verified by government agencies, NOT contracted to for-profit companies. This is how we not only lose 25-30% of our tax dollars, but lose control of regulatory processes.
    The "privatization" of what should be government functions is bleeding us dry.
    Not only do we lose the 25-30% profit these contractors take, we see contracts being given in "no bid" situations, even as the contractors are under fire for past malfeasance.
    That we allow private industry to not only submit specious test results, but then lobby (read bribe) congress to lower standards is absurd and criminal.

  92. You see, sometimes the Free Market doesn't work so well? By the way, this is a point that a reasonably intelligent 8-year-old would see as common sense. Yet, we still have dead-ender republicans screaming that regulation is evil. There is a word for a world without regulations: Anarchy. The Dark Ages.

  93. Self-regulation is a contradiction in terms. The economic incentive for anyone who operates under a self-regulatory regime is to not regulate themselves. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out.

  94. The enabling of bad faith by leaders of the Republican party is having its all too predictable consequence.

    Why are humans so uninterested in doing good to do well. In caring for each other and all the good that entails.

    For those saying at least Trump et al. don't pretend, I think if it is necessary to pretend to be good, have a shot at it. The alternative is just for everyone, especially the corrosion in the "soul" (speaking as an atheist) of the perp.

  95. Gresham's Law and the Law of Diminution at the Margin are the two most denied natural laws of human nature.

    The bad always drives out the good when there is no real punishment for bad behavior, and the more of anything you have, without exception, the less each unit of it is worth to you.

  96. It is self evident that Corporations, who lust after profits, and compensate decision makers based on profits, cannot and will not self regulate themselves. It is naïve to think otherwise. As another Times article lays out these large criminal automobile corporations have been committing fraud ever since the first regulations have been issued. Past behavior is an indicator of future behavior. Has anybody had the intelligence and guts to start checking the self regulation of other car companies or other regulations? If not, why not? I'll bet dollars to donuts there is a whole world of fraud just waiting for someone to say "look, the Emperor has no clothes!"

  97. Incentive plans for executives and managers do provide the energy to achieve the objectives at all costs for many employees experienced in these situations. While independent individuals in the company review the performance against the stated objectives, every ounce of creativity goes into their achievement. The very concept of self regulation is really an impossible one given the size of the incentives involved. If you want capitalism then you must have an independent third party playing the role of regulator - laws must be followed in a democracy.

  98. I used to work on nuclear weapons launch software from a systems safety standpoint. Software used in the system (including firmware and device microcode if applicable) is given to the EPA in this case and put into an escrow account to protect proprietary information. The software is then analyzed for code that does not execute during normal operations (dead code), seeks to identify back door access points (like test condition detection in this case) and any code not required for normal operation is removed.
    Automated tools can do 90% of the analysis, experts do the analysis of the analysis and the additional 10%.
    Commercial software development standards fall far short of using established engineering principles for safety critical systems. Having people learn "how to code" falls far short in teaching the skill base required to engineer quality and robust software. ISO 26262 and MISRA are good starting points but obviously more needs to be done to reduce VW style cheating.

  99. If cars can't meet EPA standards they shouldn't be on our roads. Many have questioned "Clean Diesel" cars and now the question has been answered.

    Diesels are more efficient and more powerful than gasoline engines and are perfect for trucks, large vehicles and boats. As Heating Oil and Diesel fuel are the same, the price of home heating oil will skyrocket if a higher percentage of cars become diesel powered, the inventory of fuel will also drop making for a very cold northeast.

  100. self policing for corporations is the same kind of oxymoron that military intelligence is

  101. As an owner of Jetta TDI I am of course angry to have been deceived so well. As others have noted, this is the tip of an iceberg comprised not just of the interests of VW but many other makers whose record past and probably present leaves a lot to be desired. While we wait for the wheels of retribution to turn is there a comparison of NOx emissions emitted per mile by vehicles such as the TDI and the SUV's and trucks using our highways.

  102. Good question.

    PDF]Average Annual Emissions and Fuel Consumption for ...
    o Cached
    o Similar
    United States Environmental Protection Agency
    cars) and light-duty trucks (pickup trucks, sport-utility vehicles, and the like)

    The average passenger auto emits 18.32 lbs per year for 12,000 annual miles per the EPA. The comparable number for light trucks, which includes SUVs is 25.11 lbs per year. (Note, that is for all vehicles on the road, not just for new ones.)

    The standard for diesel autos is 0.05g/mile, which converts to 1.32 lbs per year for 12,000 miles driven. With the defeat device, the VWs are allegedly emitting up to 40 times as much NOx or 52.80 pounds per year.

  103. The profit seekers call them stifling regulations. I call them safeguards. We need them.

  104. A big story just emerging from the scandal is the re-rating of VW bonds because of the scandal and the impact on EU banks holding VW debt.

  105. Anyone that believes any business will self regulate for the benefit of the public and not for benefit of that business and stockholders lives in fantasy world. VW happened to get caught. Someone gives the OK to break the law and in all likelihood someone kept a record. Criminal fines are not the solution unless somebody or somebodies goes to jail and fines and penalties are no longer subject to any kind of favorable tax break.

  106. The EPA, with the support of the NYT, is trying to cover their gross incompetence with the theory that the auto industry is self regulating. The industry is regulated by the EPA, which is incompetent.

  107. Small government = unregulated greed, which is what the top 1% global financial elite have always wanted. Easier to steal. Globalization and worthless anti-trust law enforcement are making matters even worse. WE MUST REGULATE GREED WORLDWIDE and hold manufacturers accountable. That includes food producers. Confiscate 90% of the profits the manufacturer makes during the cheating period and actually collect the money so OUR governments can regulate them and restore infrastructure. It's time WE demand that OUR safety - society's safety - comes first even if it means shutting them down.

  108. Two graduate students and less than $20,000 found the problem that the EPA didn't. Would giving the EPA more money make them magically competent? The EPA had more than enough money to have detected the fraud if they would replace 75% of the lawyers on staff with people with scientific and engineering expertise.

    VW deserves to be subject to an existential fine for their fraud, just as BP is for their Gulf of Mexico gross negligence. The UWV grad students deserve a bounty for their whistleblowing. Perhaps it would be appropriate to hire a competent private sector company to detect regulatory violations. They could hardly do worse than the EPA.

    Only in government is incompetence rewarded with a bigger budget. It was never that they didn't have enough money, it was that they are focused on a hidden agenda rather than the welfare of the American people.

  109. Of course self policing doesn't work. People are greedy. That is the whole flaw with the Chicago/Austrian School of Economics. Business needs to be regulated.

  110. How unamerican! Not cheating of course, but to have the CEO take responsibility by stepping down.

  111. I don't think VW is the only one cheating. For example, some motorcycle manufacturers clearly are not meeting smog and noise level standards based on the clouds of smelly exhaust they emit and their deafening sound. At least VWs get great fuel economy so they don't contribute as much to global warming. Yes we care about the levels of these various harmful hydrocarbons, but even CO2 is a pollutant, so producing more of that is also polluting more. The current smog laws fail to limit levels of CO2 at all -- a rather huge oversight.

  112. thoise motorcycles have undoubtably been modified by their owners, stock DOT motorcycle pipes are nearly as quiet as car pipes.

  113. VW was able to sell the cars for a lower price because they did not attempt to control the NOx emissions that contribute to smog. Smog actually makes people sick.

    The EPA regulations of carbon dioxide, on the other hand, will cost $5 trillion and will reduce the global temperature in the year 2100 by 0.1 degrees Celsius. There is a reason why the Democrat controlled government did not pass global warming legislation in 2009 and 2010 when they controlled the House, had a supermajority in the Senate and a Democrat President. Even they knew they would not be re-elected if they told the public the truth. So Obama has imposed the futile plan by executive fiat, since he won't be running for office again.

    There is a reason why the President's plan focuses on electricity generated by coal. The overwhelming bulk of the costs will be borne by red states in flyover country. Autos and truck contribute as much carbon dioxide as coal fired electricity generators. If the EPA had started with a carbon tax on auto and truck fossil fuels, he wouldn't have been able to trick Americans into believing that utility companies were going to be paying to reduce carbon dioxide.

    It was not an oversight that Obama wants the utility companies to take the heat for his bad policies, rather than having the American people see the costs.

  114. They Harleys are AIR Cooled. They need a rich fuel mixture to help cool the engine. The need less (more noisy) exhaust Pressure to help remove the back pressure from the engine to help cool it.

    Been that way for over 100 years. They are not going to change to much very soon. 45 degree aircooled V twin. Note; They sell all they can make.

    A union company listed on the New York stock exchange. You can buy their stock and make a profit.

    You can buy one (not a sportster) and ride it for 3 years and sell it for what you paid for it.

    A bargain at any price,sold in every country in the world. Cuba has had them since 1959.

  115. So why if I get pulled over when suspected of drunk driving, why can't I give myself my own test?

  116. In the United States, automakers conduct their own emissions tests and submit the results to the government.

    How wise on our part. In that same spirit of trust and corporate ethicalness, I say the same should be allowed to apply to drunk drivers as well, in administering their own sobriety tests.

    If the delusion is good enough for the car maker, it should be good enough for the car's driver as well.

  117. To me this is one of those DUH moments. Honestly, can anyone say they are surprised? There is a reason we have unions, child labor laws, OHSA, etc. Money corrupts. From the time humanity placed a price on a thing, corruption has been around. VW is just the tip of the iceberg in corporations pushing the legal envelope. Corporate creed, is "Hey, we will make more than what we will pay in legal fees, so why not. What are the odds of getting caught?" This is worldwide issue. Also, in America, ask Congress why they pass regulations (for soundbites) and then don't fund them.

  118. The EPA has plenty of money to pursue Democrat priorities and none to do the job Congress authorized them to do. The WV grad students detected the fraud for less than $20,000 in less than two weeks. The Ivy League leadership of the EPA would never have detected the fraud.

    I hope that the UWV is going to get a whistleblower reward for doing the job we've been paying the EPA to do.

  119. Reagan was wrong. Corporations are the problem. Government is the solution.

  120. If government is the solution, how come in this case VW was able to get away with this for 6 years, until a non-governmental group figured it out and told the EPA & CARB, who were previously unaware of the problem?

  121. If government is the solution, why is it that the regulators weren't able to detect the non-compliance? And yet a couple of graduate students were able to in a couple of weeks. We've been paying the EPA to nap and shuffle papers.

  122. Like most of our government that isn't military, they really don't have the budget (manpower) to police all of industry.

  123. for readers of consumer reports, their automobile tests are the gold standard. these tests are based on cars purchased on the open market, not easy for manufacturers to doctor. i would take the fuel economy numbers of consumer reports over those of the EPA any day.

  124. Consumer Reports does not rest for compliance with air pollution created by cars. What you are not getting is that the fuel economy numbers that are being reported are correct. The way that VW achieved its fuel economy was to disable the emissions control. So when they fix the problem, performance and fuel economy will suffer.

    Consumer Reports, BTW has "suspended" its ratings of the cars. Their "gold standard" did not bother to test for clean air issues either, joining the EPA in rating based on no testing.

  125. A company that would cheat on its diesel emissions compliance would probably also be willing to cheat on its gasoline emissions compliance.

  126. What was that April recall to reprogram these engines supposed to do?

    It did not reduce the performance of my Jetta Sportswagen in any way I have noticed.

    But does it mean that I will have to pay $2500 for a new fine particulate filter just after the warranty runs out, now that this unit is in constant use?

  127. Don't worry about what happens after the warranty expires. By that time, your Jetta Diesel will be as illegal as Cuban cigars or elephant tusks :)

  128. Has anyone figured out the impact to climate change of 11 million cheating VW diesels? That turns into the equivalent of 440 million cars in terms of emmisions. Does that mean VW diesels released 440 million vehicles worth of CO2?

  129. the emissions in question are NOx, Nitrogen Oxides, not CO2. NOx is a potent contributor to smog.

  130. If VW is able to fix the defect, the cars will emit more carbon dioxide and less NOx. That will reduce their contribution by four to ten times to smog, Which is what he EPA is supposed to be regulating.

  131. Self-regulation is somewhat of an oxymoron.
    Like allowing teenagers access to liquor and car keys then reminding them to drive safely.

  132. But underneath all the issues of self-regulation is the political/election process itself. When members of Congress have to spend bosom estimates over 1/3rd of their time soliciting funds they inevitably end up indebted to the very donors who give the most money. And those donors are not the 99%.

  133. VW did it On Purpose. They have too,there is NO other way.

    ITS A >diesel. Diesel engines make 70 to 80% of there Peak horsepower at idle and just above.

    They use High compression to ignite the fuel,no spark plugs etc.A gasoline engine has about 10% of it PEAK horsepower rating at IDLE.

    With the invention of electronic fuel injection on Diesels,they are able to control the fuel injection ratio into the engine with the computer program.

    This method of detuning to meet EPA standards is the norm. They have to do it. If not your diesel engine would be sitting in traffic idling at 80% of its rated horsepower,the excess smoke would just go out the tail pipe.

    This method of fuel injection is now in the hi tech modern world. In the old way a fuel injector pump was driven off the engine and the fuel delivered through tubes to the injectors. No way to really control the fuel in a fuel efficient , or nox reduction .

    Watch most old trash trucks. Smoke at idle and under throttle.

    How they test (EPA) the diesel cars. You cannot test them with out a load. A diesel is most efficient when it is working and under normal operating temperature. They need heat to burn off the fuel.

    Diesel car engineers, the smart ones,and they will be coming out of the woodwork real soon. They know if your are going to test a diesel engine for emissions at idle and without a load you will need to shut down some fuel and injection timing . Pass the test.

    Keep your diesel VW. It is great.

  134. You confuse torque with power. A diesel engine's power is regulated by the amount of fuel injected into each compressed charge, not by changing the mass of air that the engine displaces each rotation. If there were no friction and heat exchange between the cylinder and its contents, a diesel could idle without fuel.

    A gasoline engine with a throttle plate is much less efficient at idle.

  135. It is when they are travelling at highway speeds that they are exceeding the NOx standards, so your explanation is incorrect.

  136. This is what free market enterprise or capitalism is all about; make profit any way you can. This is also why we should not weaken our capacity to create and enforce regulations. And, this is why the SCOTUS ruling that says corporations are people needs to be seriously looked at. When it comes to profit, there is no morality. Self inspection is just a loophole to get around the regulations.

  137. The regulations were in place, the EPA was too busy investigating a Wyoming rancher who built a pond that was not damaging the environment and releasing mine pollution to focus on what was their actual responsibility.

  138. There may have been a problem with self-policing, but not any more.

    This fiasco will cost VW billions, many of their top people will be fired in disgrace, some may be prosecuted. The method of testing to find cheaters has now been perfected. What manufacturer will dare run the risk of cheating now?

    Self regulation is fine, but only if there is follow-up independent testing from time to time such as occurred in this case. it is remarkable that it took the EPA so long to do this.

  139. Since the days when Nader's book, 'Unsafe At Any Speed,' described the unhealthy effects of owning or being in the path of a Chevy Corvair, we have had palpable examples of how the auto makers put safety low on their list of priorities in designing and manufacturing cars. The nadir of that industry's contempt for passenger and driver safety may have been the Ford Pinto, with its combustible gas tank and stalwart Ford defenders: after all, the prosecutor in Winamac, Indiana indicted the Ford Motor Company for some of the deaths related to operation of the Ford Pinto.

    Until car manufacturers calculate the cost of doing business to be too great only or largely because of the fines and penalties a government can impose for dangerous auto design and manufacturing, the US auto industry will spit into the market unsafe car after dangerous car and tally the wrongful death suits as largely manageable costs.

    What would the car makers do if they had to pay a carbon tax, too, for their fossil-fuel propelled junk heaps? ... Nawh. They'd never let it happen.

  140. I'd give the prize for all-time worst US-made car to the Chevrolet Vega.

  141. The car manufacturers are not going to pay a carbon tax, the consumer is. Be careful what you wish for.

  142. It seems very reasonable to anticipate that we have heard the end of "clean diesel" as opposed to the U.S. approach of gasoline (and hopefully more hybrids and all electric) for dealing with air pollution. The two separate paths to the mountain of decent air quality always seemed a bit strange, and now we know why.

  143. Self-regulation of corporations in virtually all industries has failed consumers, the nation and the world. It has also failed stockholders.

    What to do should be among the top topics and questions asked of all candidates is all the forthcoming Presidential debates. We voters need to know their positions.

  144. I think this will have far reaching consequences not just for VW but for how we think about all large corporations. Cynics may say that this behavior is all to be expected -- i.e. 'duh, no big surprise' or 'sheesh, what did you expect?' However, even as cynical as we are, we still place a lot of blind trust in the companies that power modern life. If we were to rethink that trust for ALL corporations we deal with, what would it mean? There is nothing special about what VW was cheating on-- meaning, it was just a regulation in their industry (ok, maybe a particularly stringent one), and they cheated and lied egregiously to get around it. Pick any other industry, pick a similarly stringent regulation, and should we expect that a major corporation in that industry is cheating in the same fashion?

  145. do these milage and emission control have anything to do with reality... from my knowledge, limited as it is, thes are mathematical models develop with auto weight and egine displacement ... interesting but NOT reality...

  146. Yes, Republicans, the market WILL police itself. There is obviously no need for regulations. Corporations only want what is best for us all!

  147. "self policing" is no policing. I am amazed that we still haven't learned that. Coronations and industries always argue that they are the experts and therefore they should regulate themselves. They also add why would they want to produce defective products it would hurt their bottom line but we have seen over and over again that corporations sell defective products to help their bottom line and weak or captured agencies who fail to properly monitor and rug late them allow it to happen with the resulting deaths and injuries.

    At least this fraud didn't kill any body immediately....only slowly.

  148. It is amazing that after six years of EPA random testing they failed to detect a single case of VW's fraud, but a university team was able to detect it in less than two weeks for less than $20,000. The EPA is incompetent.

  149. If rogue software can be installed in our cars, what guarantees do we have that it isn't installed in our voting booths?

  150. One problem causing corruption in both business and government in the U.S. is that attorneys are entirely self regulated. Just like the auto industry, the legal industry controls the designated regulators. The regulators are appointed by insiders and serve for decades. When they are bribed, no one notices because there is no turnover, no clean brooms. All the complaints are secret. The regulators in most states throw out the complaints after a very short time. That makes it impossible to prove repeated misconduct. Then the regulators claim that misconduct complaints should be ignored because the complaining party doesn't have access to historical complaints. So the whole attorney regulation process is a sham designed to deceive the public.

  151. Why the surprise and outrage? This is the purpose of all corporations, maximize profit and minimize responsibility. There are only two solutions to the inherent problems of corporate misdeeds both of which are extremely unlikely. An informed citizenship punishes misdeeds in the market place or empowered and independent regulators prevent misdeeds. Good luck.

  152. Will somebody please send the board members at VW copies of Arthur Miller's "All My Sons."

  153. The board of directors weaknesses at Volkswagen are replicated through corporate enterprise where almost all boards have family members and CEO sycophants jumping when the CEO says jump. The CEO is influential in choosing and rewarding the board members and usually makes sure he has a docile audience to follow his wishes. This inbreeding is certainly not true at all boards or with all CEO's but it is the common practice in a tremendous number of CEO dominated corporations. So the President should make the leadership to establish greater independence of thought and management by having rotating board members who are not family members and are experienced businessmen rather than merely friends and hangers-on of the CEO. Wal-Mart seems like a good example of a corporation with a board made up of inherited ownership and family positions.

  154. So how long will it take Iran to design its own "defeat devices" that will fool the US government for a decade or so? Oh, I forgot, they wouldn't dare cross the red line.

  155. It is high time the auto major VW should be branded as serial criminal offender and its diesel vehicles should be banned in USA for at least 5 years.The reason is simple.
    "In 1974, Volkswagen agreed to pay $120,000 to settle a complaint filed by the EPA that the company failed to properly disclose the existence of two devices that modified emissions controls on about 25,000 1973 model VWs, according to a Wall Street Journal report and an EPA press release about the case. The settlement included no admission of wrongdoing by VW, the Journal reported. The devices consisted of two temperature-sensing switches that deactivated part of the emissions control systems, the EPA said.

    The EPA said at the time that VW failed to disclose the existence of the devices on its 1973 emissions certification applications. VW did disclose them on a 1974 application, which the EPA rejected, and VW agreed to remove the devices."
    Considering the above,the corporate giant has to be taught a lesson rather than anything else.