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It's A Perfect Car: Pranking VW


It's A Perfect Car: Pranking VW

In a slick protest and righteous reminder of VW's Dieselgate emissions cheating scandal, a British activist and comedian just sabotaged a VW presentation of its new electric Up! cars at the Geneva Motor Show, ambling on stage in VW-branded overalls to "install" a "cheat box" to "fix" the car, assuring the audience, "It's okay as long as no one finds out.” His point: It's not, and they did.


Considering that this cheating greatly improved the fuel efficiency and reduced the CO2 emissions of the VW diesel cars, I really have trouble getting too indignant about them....


I had thought that the cheating had both improved the fuel efficiency and greatly increased the CO2 emissions of the VW diesel cars, else why cheat? I guess my memory is getting more faulty than I thought. Sadly no memory updates or cheats are currently available for me.


Yeah, what does is matter if a few kids with asthma are killed by the thirty-five times higher levels of NOx emitted as long as we save a little money on fuel. Anti-pollution laws have no real purpose other than to pad the resumes of the environmentalists.


No. It is physically and chemically impossible to increase fuel economy without decreasing CO2 emissions. There is no reason to cheat regarding CO2 emissions, since their emissions are not regulated at the tailpipe. They are indirectly regulated only through broad corporate average fuel economy targets.


The number one pollutant we are worrying about with regard to children is CO2 - yet it is still not considered a pollutant by the EPA. The NOx emissions of the tiny number of these cars on the road is minuscule - particularly compared to large diesel trucks and train locomotives the latter which is still not effectively regulated and a very big source of particulates (and probably NOx) in my city.

I fully acknowledge that they were breaking the law - but it was lawbreaking with some environmental benefits.


You are trolling me, aren't you?

What VW did was to use sensors and software to recognize when the car was being used in regular driving and bypass the catalytic converters. These sensors and software were used to recognize when the car was being tested for emissions and then not bypass the catalytic converters in order that the car would pass the emissions tests.

From the NYTimes (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/business/international/vw-diesel-emissions-scandal-explained.html?_r=0) :

 "The software sensed when the car was being tested 
 and then activated equipment that reduced emissions, 
 United States officials said. But the software turned the
 equipment off during regular driving, increasing
 emissions far above legal limits, possibly to save 
 fuel or to improve the car’s torque and acceleration."

As for it being "physically and chemically impossible to increase fuel economy without decreasing CO2 emissions" it is in fact quite possible and one of the ways to do so is to remove the catalytic converters from the exhaust system.

To get fuel economy with low emissions you pay with poor acceleration. To get fuel economy with decent acceleration you pay with increased emissions. Take your choice. VW claimed to give both decent acceleration and low emissions based on competent engineering and design, but delivered the mirage of this competency by gaming the emission testing results.


As we see with the s*itheels at VW, and SO many other corporations, our moral indifference is slowly (if we're lucky) going to decimate humanity via greenhouse gas emission-caused climate change.

If these scumbags are impervious to the entreaties of the Pope, that pretty much settles it.


As if the EPA has any actual authority.

As if there is any interest in (chuckle) regulation of any f*cking thing.

Premature death, disease, pollution of water, air and soil. It's all good.


Are you confusing CO2 with CO?

Three motor vehicle pollutants are regulated by the EPA. CO, NOx and hydrocarbons (HC). CO2 is not regulated directly - only by regulating the amount of fuel burned through CAFE standards. A "perfect": gasoline engine would produce CO2 and water vapor and nothing else. But becasue combustion is not perfect, some of the would-be CO2, and H2O ends up taking the form of CO and unburned hydrocarbons A catalytic converter oxidizes the CO to CO2 and the HC to CO2 and H2O. With regard to CO and HC, the cleanest-running engine emits more CO2 than a dirty running engine. The only way to control it is to burn less gasoline. That is what the CAFE standards are used for.

NOx is a different situation - NOx emissions increase with combustion temperature and pressures and to get low NOx means less efficient combustion. In the old days the only way to control NOx was an exhaust gas recirculation system and low compression ratios never higher than 8.5:1. This reduced the combustion temperature and pressure and overall efficiency so that and low NOx always reduced fuel efficiency a lot and therefore increased CO2 emissions (per km or mile) a lot. Now there are three-way catalyists improved combustion chambers, 4 valves per cylinder, and variable valve operation. So the NOx penalty is no longer as large - bit it is still there. In diesels, it remains a big challenge. Trucks increasingly use the selective catilyists that use a urea solution that needs to be regularly added to a separate little tank. Volkswagen decided that the average car driver would not want to have to regularly do this.

Regarding the NYT article like all sloppy journalism on tech matters, the NYT article did not mention WHICH pollutant was being reduced only when the car was being tested. (It was NOx.) The other pollutants - and the CO2, were decreased by this measure.

Or to summarize - the only thing that affects grams of CO2 per km is grams of fuel burned per km (for gasoline - a gram of gasoline burned produces about 3.5 grams of CO2)

Your odd emissions-fuel economy-acceleration relationship is not correct. Hard acceleration always produces more emission and CO2 - Newton's second law demands it. The performance of a car a function of the power output of the engine. Powerful engines get poor fuel economy becasue they are designed to operate most efficiently at high RPM's and the throttle wide open, and are less efficient if driven for fuel economy.

My personal view is that global warming is problem No. 1 right now, so we might want to relax NOx emissions if it allows higher fuel economy and less fuel burned and CO2 produced.

But the far better solution is to get people out of cars altogether through a return to the public-transit-oriented, walkable, urban spaces of 100 years ago.


I really think that you need to be reminded what the air and water looked like before the CAA, CWA and the EPA before you declare that the EPA (and other regulations and regulatory agencies) is so useless.



Regarding confusing CO2 with CO, I was quoting Yunzer's posts. I see your argument on this and admit to some sloppiness in my my reply.

As for (quoting Yunzer again) "CO2 is not regulated directly", it has been in the news that VW has also admitted to understating their CO2 emissions on about 800,000 mostly diesel cars and will be penalized for that. This is mentioned in the NYT article that you dissed:

 "Volkswagen previously said it would set aside about $7.3 billion
 to cover the cost of bringing vehicles with illegal software into
 compliance with emissions standards. It also admitted that it
 had understated the output of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse
 gas, in about 800,000 vehicles, which could mean an additional
 $2.2 billion in costs and penalties."

There is a link in the above quote to another NYT article for further info:

Another point. That "sloppy(sic)" NYT article did, despite your saying that they did not do so, mention WHICH pollutant was being reduced only when the car was being tested. Yes, they stated that it was nitrogen oxides. I here quote part of what they said:

            The Emissions Tests That Led to
             the Discovery of VW’s Cheating
 The on-road testing in May 2014 that led the California Air
 Resources Board to investigate Volkswagen was conducted
 by researchers at West Virginia University. They tested 
 emissions from two VW models equipped with the 2-liter
 turbocharged 4-cylinder diesel engine. The researchers
 found that when tested on the road some cars emitted
 almost 40 times the permitted levels of nitrogen oxides.

It has been almost 20 years now since I have owned or leased a car or truck. This is by choice, a choice made in part because of the pollution that they cause. I do not live in a mega-city where it is easier to get around by bus or subway. A car would be more convenient. I can afford a car. I am experienced in rebuilding engines and can do most automotive repairs. As I agree with you that the public-transit-oriented, walkable, urban spaces are to be preferred most of my transportation is by bicycle, foot, and sometimes bus and train. Occasionally I wonder if the problems that I am having with my lungs are caused by the nitrogen oxides I breath in as I pedal, though to be honest my lungs have been exposed to a fair variety of pollution over the years.

If you want to see reduced CO2 production by cars and trucks then rather than relaxing NOx emissions (and helping to destroy the lungs of cyclists) I would support slowing traffic down and building lighter vehicles. I expect that if you crunch the numbers you will find that slower, lighter vehicles can provide a far greater reduction in CO2 production than would relaxed NOx emission standards. Proportionately it would result in an even greater reduction in the carnage on the road. Safer roads will encourage cycling as transportation, reducing CO2 even more. In winter zones studded tires and sensible dress keeps commuting by bicycle practical and mostly enjoyable.

A final point. If you wish you can have the last word on the matter. I could continue on the details of your last post but time is pressing me to attend to other matters. My last word in this thread is here.


The EPA may have been more successful in its earlier years, but took its first hit with Reagan, and the right has been chipping away at it ever since. I stand by my observation.


Yunzer, thank you for the thorough explanation of the issue. This is exactly what makes engine engineers strugle with. And with regard to the VW , the issue is a modern turbo charged, common-rail precision injected diesel engine, which indeed produces less CO2 emissions due to lower fuel consumption, but has to struggle with extremely high NOx emissions and still very high amount of emitted particles. As has been said in your article, there are different ways of exhaus gas treatment. To handle NOx emissions most effectively, an effective urea injection is needed. The system is very cost intensive and can be applied only in upmarket cars, but even then it needs a cost intensive regular urea injection. Another, much cheaper, but less effective and reliable system is NOx adsorber, which traps NO and NO2 molecules like a sponge and once full it can be "emptied" by injecting more fuel that causes NOx molecules to react with unburned hydrocarbons and forms water and nitrogen. VW decided to use NOx adsorber in cheaper models to keep prices down. The problem with the system is that to trap enough NOx molecules, it has to be steadily emptied by injecting more fuel, and still then it can hardly reach the US NOx emission standards while still maintaining low fuel consumption. They could have just solved it by injecting more fuel steadily, but this would make the engine less fuel efficient and thus less competitive, especially in the US where diesel fuel costs more than gas. They just wanted to impose european solutions in the US and somehow to compete with Toyota's hybrids. I believe they were so self-confident as they succeded in Europe in past 2 decades. But they forgot entirely that in the US, regulators can be more independent than in Europe and that they need to be respected. They were even warned by the EPA in 2014 and given the oportunity to solve the issue, but they just acted as this is happening in Germany where VW is a public company of the highest importance. Do not forget that in Europe, there are 11 millions VWs, Audis, Skoda and Seats with defeat devices on the roads, and no country has taken any action against VW yet.

European cities are extremely polluted not just because of NOxs but the worst are extremely fine particles emitted by modern diesel and petrol direct injection engines. The whole cities stink of diesel, somtimes people can hardly breath, fine particles float in the air for days over wide city areas, all citizens are affected, but no action taken by any country so far. Here in Europe, i come from Germany, VW customers were not offered any compensation like in the US and no lawsuits against VW have been filed so far.
And i am very happy there still is a country (USA) where VW has been hold accountable for the pollution, mistrust and unfair competition. Also hope VW customers will get the most out VW through all these lawsuits in US.


Actually VW had a second testing scandal affecting at least 800,000 Diesel and gasoline cars (mainly in Europe) where the CO2 levels were far greater than reported.


I agree with you . The only thing I would correct you on is that the VW engines under investigation are not Common-rail injected. They are Direct injected. The "TDI" stands for "Turbocharged Direct Injection".
By the way, VW was also caught cheating with their V-6 diesels which were used in Audi and Porsche cars.


The VW engines in question are diesel engines and all diesel (compression-ignition) engines are direct injection (i.e. directly into the combustion chamber or a pre-combustion chamber) - the injection requiring careful timing in the manner of ignition timing in a gasoline engine. It is the only way a diesel can work.

TDI refers to VW's direct-injection system for gas engines


In other words, they were overstating the fuel economy, or not converting the liters/100 km (the European fuel economy unit) to gm/km CO2 (something that, unlike the US where they could not care less about AGW, all European car shoppers scrutinize - its even in the car ads).

Very basic chemistry dictates that CO2 emissions are purely a function of fuel consumed.


So its staff of many thousands throughout the US are doing nothing? The closure of many large coal burning power plants in my area response to new rules (among other factors) is nothing? Are you even familiar with the rulemaking process or any other aspect of how government works?


Rudyjo, since the mid 90s almost all turbo diesel engines are direct injected, nowadays there are no pre-chamber injected diesels left, at least not in cars and trucks due to more efficient combustion. Common-rail stands for the type of fuel distribution and control, has nothing to do with direct or prechamber injection, and was in fact jointly developed by Fiat and Bosch in the late 80s and early 90s. Bosch took over then the manufacturing. It was first used in Alfa Romeo 156 2,4 JTD, which was the first car in the world to use this modern system. The system is very similar to gasoline fuel supply distribution system despite using much higher pressures and using a single high pressure pump and a single, common distribution rail or pipe connected to cylinder dedicated, electronically controled injection nozzles, actuated either by electro magnets or piezzo actuators.
VW has been using for a long time their own Pumpe-Düse (pump-nozzle in engl.) injection system, which features high pressure pump and nozzle integrated in a single unit and built inside the engine head over each cylinder and driven by camshaft. The drawback of the system was that it did not allow multiple short injection phases per cycle due to its non-constant pressure built up by a piston pump. Multiple injection and pre-heating injection phases are necessary to effectively control emissions and to lower noise levels. And the system was of course much more costy when the number of cylinders grows as every cylinder requires its own unit. Hence, VW was using this system exclusively with 3 and 4 cylinder TDIs, an exception was Touareg V10 TDI, but V6 and V8 TDIs used also in Audis and Porsches have been using Common-Rail injection system. On the other hand, Common-rail system has the advantage of supplying constant high pressure in common rail pipe delivered by rotation pump. Hence, multiple different injection phases are possible per cycle. It has been since 2008 when VW banned pumpe-Düse technology and replaced it with common-rail. Nowadays, all VW TDIs are using common rail injection, even the 4 cylinder 2,0 TDI sold in the US.
Concerning direct injection technology, VW has been indeed one of the first, but not the very first manufacturer implementing it in personal cars. Direct injection has been widely used before in trucks. The very first direct injected turbo diesel engine in production for a personal car was Fiat's domestic 1,9 liter TD i.d. from 1987.
And yes, Audis and Prosches V6 TDIs have been also affected in the US by the emission scandal, but they use SCR catalitic converters using urea and it's just a matter how much urea is being deployed, as costumer does not like filling it up too often.