Thursday 2nd of July 2020

from V-dub to V-dud...



Volkswagen, the world's largest automaker by sales, has admitted it rigged emissions tests in diesel-powered vehicles in the United States.

US regulators have charged the German giant with manufacturing vehicles designed to evade government pollution controls.

The vehicles included software made to meet clean-air standards during official emissions testing but which would intentionally turn off during normal operations.

As a result, the diesel cars emit greater-than-allowed quantities of pollution linked to smog and various health ills. But what is the difference between diesel and petrol-powered vehicles and how did Volkswagen use a "defeat device" to fool regulators?


We did expect better from the Germans...


on and off fouling device...


VW's defeat device

The software switched on when the automobiles were being tested for compliance with EPA standards, turning off during normal driving to allow maximum engine performance.

The algorithm used information about how the car was being steered, how long the engine ran and atmospheric pressure to "precisely track" the conditions that corresponded to a federal emissions test, according to the EPA.

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Volkswagen's chief executive Martin Winterkorn has resigned, taking responsibility for the German carmaker's rigging of US emissions tests.

"Volkswagen needs a fresh start — also in terms of personnel," Mr Winterkorn, who has been at the helm for eight years, said in a statement.

"I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation."

US authorities are planning criminal investigations after discovering that Volkswagen programmed computers in its cars to detect when they were being tested and alter the running of their diesel engines to conceal the true level of emissions.

"I am shocked by the events of the past few days," the 68-year-old former chief said.

"Above all, I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group."

it went undetected for so long?...

Volkswagen used devices to cheat air pollution tests in diesel luxury vehicles including Porsche and Audi cars, US and California environmental regulators say, widening their investigation into the carmaker's emissions scandal.

The US Environmental Protection Agency said it was now looking at 3.0-litre V6 diesel engines from 2014 through to 2016 used mostly in larger, more expensive models like the Porsche Cayenne sport utility vehicle in addition to the smaller diesel engines whose test-deceiving software were initially targeted by the agency.

The move pulls luxury brands Porsche and Audi deeper into the scandal that has already engulfed the corporate parent Volkswagen AG and its mass-market VW brand.

On the road, emissions of the smog-causing pollutant nitrogen oxide on the affected high-end vehicles could be nine times higher than allowed, the EPA said.

"The latest revelations raise the question, where does VW's road of deceit end?," said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton in a statement, adding that the disclosure "prompts questions regarding the prevalence of the emissions cheating and how it went undetected for so long".

a cartel of car manufacturers...

The Cartel

Collusion Between Germany's Biggest Carmakers

The diesel scandal is not a failure on the part of individual companies, but rather the result of collusion among German automakers that lasted for years. Audi, BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen and Porsche coordinated their activities in more than a thousand meetings. The exposure of a cartel.

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nicht umweltfreundlich...



by George Monbiot

Which living person has done most to destroy the natural world and the future wellbeing of humanity? Donald Trump will soon be the correct answer, when the full force of his havoc has been felt. But for now I would place another name in the frame: Angela Merkel.

What? Have I lost my mind? Angela Merkel, the“climate chancellor”? The person who, as German environment minister, brokered the first UN climate agreement, through sheer force of will? The chancellor who persuaded the G7 leaders to promise to phase out fossil fuels by the end of this century? The architect of Germany’s Energiewende – its famous energy transition? Yes, the very same.

Unlike Trump, she has no malicious intent. She did not set out to destroy the agreements she helped to create. But the Earth’s systems do not respond to mission statements or speeches or targets. They respond to hard fact. What counts, and should be judged, as she seeks a fourth term as German chancellor in the elections on Sunday, is what is done, not what is said. On this metric, her performance has been a planetary disaster.

Merkel has a fatal weakness: a weakness for the lobbying power of German industry. Whenever a crucial issue needs to be resolved, she weighs her ethics against political advantage, and chooses the advantage. This, in large part, is why Europe now chokes in a fug of diesel fumes.

The EU decision to replace petrol engines with diesel, though driven by German car manufacturers, predates her premiership. It was a classic European fudge, a means of averting systemic change while creating an impression of action, based on the claim (which now turns out to be false) that diesel engines produce less carbon dioxide than petrol. But once she became chancellor, Merkel used every conceivable tactic, fair and foul, to preserve this deadly cop-out.

The worst instance was in 2013, when, after five years of negotiations, other European governments had finally agreed a new fuel economy standard for cars: they would produce an average of no more than 95g of CO2 per km by 2020. Merkel moved in to close the whole thing down.

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Mind you George is coming from one hell of a family... see:

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monkey fumes...

And there was one word that he took special pains to avoid: monkey. Instead, he said he could provide some advice on the issue "that had recently been added" to the list of problems facing the industry. "I am also the animal welfare minister, after all," he told the crowd. 

Very funny.

The scandal surrounding dubious emissions tests on macaques commissioned by Volkswagen, BMW and Daimler can no longer be played down with tedious jokes and vague preaching. In recent days, we have witnessed a number of top German carmakers lose the last modicum of what little credibility they still possessed.

The list of scandals is long: visits to whorehouses submitted as company expenses, manipulation of diesel engines in millions of cars, cartel-style collusion between alleged competitors. Scandal after scandal has been exposed and condemned, with few lessons learned. Instead, improvements were promised, and the industry constantly conveyed that, "We've gotten the message." The company he runs will now "practice greater transparency and honesty," VW CEO Mathias Müller said a few months back. But things have neither gotten any more transparent nor particularly honest. 

Next week, the presidium of the VW supervisory board is to meet to address the scandal and decide on steps to be taken in response. But members of the oversight body are getting tired of looking like fools to the outside world.

A source on the supervisory board of one of the German car companies says they are "pissed off." There is also talk of "hide-and-seek games" and "moral light-footedness." One board member rang the alarm, saying: "The automobile industry is well on its way toward destroying its reputation altogether." This time, it seems, there may actually be true consequences as a result of the scandal. 

Monkey Business

German politicians are using the affair to ratchet up pressure on automakers. They are threatening further recalls of suspicious diesel models and they are also demanding additional concessions. So far, German carmakers had only wanted to pay a portion of the capital for a planned special environmental fund for municipalities aimed at offsetting the harm caused by their motors. But this week, automaker CEOs caved in. After a crisis meeting with acting Transport Minister Schmidt on Tuesday, they indicated they were prepared to shoulder a total contribution of 250 million euros. The monkey tests are going to be expensive.

The scandal was exposed by an American lawyer who has never been involved in a case of this magnitude before. Michael Melkersen runs a small law firm in New Market, Virginia, a small town with only 2,000 residents. The most conspicuous things that stand out on his resume are his hobbies: poker and extreme sports. But during the diesel scandal, in which Melkersen represented VW customers seeking damages, he dug deeper than most of his colleagues.

He wanted to know from VW if the company had tested the effects the diesel emissions would have on humans. But Melkersen says he wasn't provided with a satisfactory answer. So he began spending nights sifting through files from the VW trial. At one point, he stumbled across a series of dubious emails. In them, executives at the company expressed concern that stricter health regulations could impede the success of its diesel models.


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a real smack...

"The behavior ... is to be deemed unethical." This is what you call a real smack. And it didn't come from just anyone, it came from Germany's highest civil court in Karlsruhe. In addition, in the case of Volkswagen the court saw a "strategic company decision through fraudulent deception of the authorities."

Thanks to the judges, we now have an answer to the question the company never really wanted to answer: Yes, they cheated and deceived. They went against "good morals" and the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) certified the carmaker's "deliberate unethical damage" to its customers. Anyone doing this violates one of the most important principles of every business, namely that of good faith.

As an example of just how far from reality Volkswagen was, at the beginning of May when the court first heard the complaint of VW customer Herbert Gilbert, company lawyers thought that the whole thing could be completely dismissed. Their argument was that the plaintiff suffered no damage because he was able to drive the car without restrictions. They simply ignored that thing about the fraudulent emissions-cheating software.


The long wait for German customers

Volkswagen's reaction is now sheepish. All of a sudden, the manufacturer wants to compensate the remaining VW diesel customers suing the company (currently around 60,000) with a one-off payment. Did this change of heart really require the lengthy legal process that ended at the highest German court? 


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