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Old 09-25-2015, 12:25 PM   #121
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So that sure sounds like the fox guarding the hen-house. Checks and balances? Well, the products I worked on were subject to a very similar sort of govt health and safety regulation. I can say from 1st hand experience, our MegaCorp took this very seriously.
Yes! A lot of people are surprised to find out that Megacorps in many industries "self test."

When I was a Jr. Worker, I was tasked to "make the code run a series of real world tests" on a box that was to undergo radio emissions testing. Every electric device needs this. Devices are all potential radios, so the FCC doesn't want them mucking up the airwaves.

Anyway I joked that "Maybe I'll just put the code in a loop" for the test. I can tell you that Sr. Worker was NOT amused. It was if I had yelled "FIRE" in a theater. I learned to take these things seriously.
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Old 09-25-2015, 12:41 PM   #122
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EPA to road-test cars after Volkswagen emissions scandal stay tuned...
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Old 09-25-2015, 12:56 PM   #123
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I curious if there are any owners of the affected cars here.
Will you ( or did you ) get the software fix to improve emissions?
The fix will both reduce the performance of the car, and reduce
the MPG... but hey, the environment!
I have an affected car, a 2014 VW Passat TDI. There are others here that have them also.

My car received the first "emissions flash" in 12/2014 shortly after I bought it. This was the ECU 2306 re-flash that EPA and VW agreed to after the "problem" was identified months earlier. Apparently, that re-flash was not successful in making the grade (whatever was agreed to at the time). For that 12/14 event, VW had convinced EPA that "technical issues" were the cause of the independent test results that indicated they were not compliant. At that time, VW was mum on the "defeat software" code.

When VW recalls my car in the 482,000 car recall event in the future (one year from now?), I will get the re-flash. My car is equipped with the SCR technology and the re-flash will more than likely mean more cycles of DEF will occur to manage NOx under real world driving conditions. Right now, I use 1/3 the DEF fluid that a current similar equipped Mercedes diesel uses.

I suspect VW will also extend the warranty on the emissions equipment (DEF system) for 80,000 miles to possible 120,000 miles. It is thought that the current DEF loading was programmed to make the treatment system meet EPA's durability standard. Using it more frequently will shorten its life. Lots of variable..no answers yet!

I doubt that performance of my car will decrease any appreciable amount as the NOx reduction takes place after fuel combustion and is a separate process. Any performance decreases will be much more noticeable if VW attempts to re-tune the LNT-equipped cars since they use part of the engine fueling to burn off ammonia treated NOx in the trap system. But those cars may not make the grade and VW will be force to do something very expensive.

For most of the 482,000 affected US cars, the NOx treatment technology is the LNT (NOx trap) mentioned above and more than likely, that hardware setup will not be sufficient to fix to meet the standard without major equipment addition (DEF tank, heaters, new catalyst, ECU changes, etc). The opinion of knowledgeable TDI owners is that those cars may be subject to a buy back arrangement or be offered a trade-in deal. It won't be fun for VW if that is the case.

The affected group of owners will also be asked to join or opt out of class action suit(s) brought by plaintff attorneys. Assuming one law firm gets the nod, then affected owners will get a check for ~ $25 or an Amazon gift card while the lawyers will get $50 million to split up.

The American people (and other county J.Q. Public's) will probably get NOx treatment and particulate filters on their gasoline cars in 2017 - 2018 when the next round of standards roll out. If that's the case, keep whatever you are happy driving now as long as you can.
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Old 09-25-2015, 02:08 PM   #124
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I curious if there are any owners of the affected cars here.
Will you ( or did you ) get the software fix to improve emissions?
The fix will both reduce the performance of the car, and reduce
the MPG... but hey, the environment!
After renting a Golf diesel TDI for 6 weeks in 2013 (traveling in Ireland and the UK) we liked it so much that we decided that our next car should be one. BIL and his wife in UK have used VW diesels for many years and love them.

However when we came to buy one in January we couldn't justify the cost as the TDI version costs more than the gas version and diesel costs more, so it would be a many year payback given our low annual mileage (this long trip we just did was an exception).

We also figured that since diesel engines are still not that popular in the US that we would go with a gas engine. Lucky us.
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Old 09-25-2015, 02:18 PM   #125
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I curious if there are any owners of the affected cars here.
Will you ( or did you ) get the software fix to improve emissions?
The fix will both reduce the performance of the car, and reduce
the MPG... but hey, the environment!
We have a 2012 TDI Golf. We like it and it works great, so we will just go with the flow. It has been really good, maintenance wise. I expect that eventually, without a recall notice, it would be unable to be licensed, so not doing the fix won't be an option.

Given the amount of exhaust coming from the big diesel pickup trucks and commercial diesel vehicles on the road, we don't feel that this is a serious issue. If the electric car crowd wants to think of us as outlaws, we can dress like pirates too. Maybe I will get a pirate sticker for the back of the car!!

Here in Colorado they have roadside monitoring stations for vehicle emissions, and they apparently never noticed anything weird, otherwise Colorado would have said something. One would think.
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Old 09-25-2015, 02:34 PM   #126
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Still unknown what action California AIR Resources Board will take, separate from US EPA. My guess is a re-flash , extended warranty , big ass fine, and VW will end up mitigating by paying for nox reduction equipment at some CA power plants to offset the nox emissions on the earlier cars that my not be able to meet standards with a re-flash.

I don't see a buy-back. The cars are still very popular here , with the gasoline / diesel fuel cost spread in CA. ( < 15 ppm diesel is still a lot less than CA gasoline).

They are a blast to drive , so much from so small an engine
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Old 09-25-2015, 02:38 PM   #127
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Good article from The Economist discussing the future of emissions and focusing on the EU about CO2 standards. This VW NOx issue sure has the potential to blow the lid off the auto industry.

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HERBIE, a Volkswagen Beetle with a mind of its own in a series of Disney films launched in the 1960s, had its share of misadventures. But things had a way of ending up happily for both the car and its passengers. The German carmaker’s more recent attempts to give its cars the gift of thought have things headed in an altogether grimmer direction. Its use of hidden software to deceive American regulators measuring emissions from diesel-engined cars has plunged VW into crisis. And as the scandal provokes further investigations it seems likely to throw into question a wider range of claims about emissions and fuel efficiency. It could thus be a blow to much of the industry—one that might be large enough to reshape it.
A mucky business | The Economist
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Old 09-25-2015, 02:42 PM   #128
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It seems clear that the German government will prop up VW as much as it needs to to keep it in business, so there is little danger that VW will go out of business.
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Old 09-25-2015, 03:17 PM   #129
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It seems clear that the German government will prop up VW as much as it needs to to keep it in business, so there is little danger that VW will go out of business.
Yes, kind of too big to fail since they appear to have an ownership interest in it.
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Old 09-25-2015, 03:17 PM   #130
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This is certainly devious engineering. I assume an employee blew the whistle, otherwise hard to believe it was discovered by some outside means.
No, actually it was discovered at West Virginia University:

How Engineers at West Virginia University Caught VW Cheating - IEEE Spectrum
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Old 09-25-2015, 03:23 PM   #131
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Yes, kind of too big to fail since they appear to have an ownership interest in it.
and apparently from the news stories, some German government people may have known about the scheme
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Old 09-25-2015, 09:48 PM   #132
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Still unknown what action California AIR Resources Board will take, separate from US EPA. My guess is a re-flash , extended warranty , big ass fine, and VW will end up mitigating by paying for nox reduction equipment at some CA power plants to offset the nox emissions on the earlier cars that my not be able to meet standards with a re-flash.

...
Now that brings up an interesting angle.

I've talked before about how EVs just shift the pollution to the power source, and on average, the NOx emissions are several times higher per mile for an EV compared to tailpipe limits for conventional ICE powered cars (SOx is several hundred times higher!). The tailpipes of cars, with catalytic converters, and these advanced controls, are much cleaner than the coal plants.

So should EVs be fined?

As I recall, these numbers were fairly accurate (maybe overstated in one way, and understated in another?) but I might need to check again:

Is The Tesla Model S Green? - Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA) | Seeking Alpha

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The EPA reports in its eGRID report, which we previously referenced, that 1.122 lb of NOx are emitted by power generators per MWh of electricity produced, or 508.75g per MWh (.509g per kWh). ...

Adding in our estimated charging and idle losses, the 85 kWh Model S sedan effectively consumes .684 kWh of electricity per mile driven, effectively generating .35g of NOx per mile driven (.684 X .509) - 5X the EPA Tier 2 NOx limit. ...
-ERD50
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Old 09-26-2015, 07:44 AM   #133
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I'm sure the decision to cheat wasn't a formal corporate one. Nobody built a decision briefing with the calculations of cost (incl likeliness of getting caught)/benefit and then pressed ahead. No rational person would consciously conclude that the deception would >never< be discovered (since that's the only way this whole scheme would help the bottom line. If it >ever< came to light, the damage would far outweigh the benefit).
Nope, this has to be one of those things that started small. But once it was in place, there was no easy road to undo it, and each person in on the secret went along with what was done the day before, hoping they would continue to reap the rewards and get transferred or retire before the bomb went off.
This will be a very interesting case study in corporate culture and decisionmaking (deliberate and by default) when the truth is known.
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Old 09-26-2015, 07:46 AM   #134
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That might work, but the "normal traffic" confirmation/check tests would still need to be somewhat consistent, else some manufacturers would be getting an advantage. And if we go this route, doesn't the "controlled" dyno test become meaningless? If we're, effectively, conceding that the companies are going to/can write their control codes to recognize when a controlled dynamometer emissions test is being done and then pass it, the car's performance in such a test is not relevant at all.
You do the normal traffic check only to confirm there is no such control code on a blatant level. Don't use the results or publish them otherwise. The highly controlled tests are still the reference.

Just the fact that there is such a normal traffic test already eliminates a lot of cheating potential.

Consistency in that test matters not that much, we're talking a factor x40 here in the case of VW. If a major discrepancy is found, withdraw certification and investigate deeper.

It's not about optimizing the test, it's about making sure the test is representative for actual real life performance. Sort of complementing an SAT exam with an internship to catch blatant cheaters, if you will

Not saying it's perfect. Ideally you want to monitor the entire deployed fleet of cars in real life continously (for several reasons). That might happen somewhere in the future.
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Old 09-26-2015, 07:54 AM   #135
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So should EVs be fined?
No. They didn't break any laws.
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Old 09-26-2015, 10:26 AM   #136
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RE: EVs and the NOx/SOx produced at the power plants to charge them, versus increased NOx from these non-compliant VW diesels:
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So should EVs be fined?
No. They didn't break any laws.
You are correct - I should not have used the word "fine" - that infers a punitive situation, and that does not apply to EVs in this case.

But in the context of the VW situation, the suggested payment to a power plant to buy equipment to offset the excess NOx produced by the vehicles in question is not really a punitive charge either. That was being discussed as just compensating for the damage they did - setting things right. Punitive charges would be in addition. At least, that is how I read it.

So from a logical (not a legal) POV - if EVs produce more NOx/SOx than compliant ICEs, then shouldn't they also be charged a fee (not a 'fine'), to offset the NOx/SOx damage they do? And if not, then why are we ALL paying a 'fee' (increased cost and reduced performance/mpg) for our ICE vehicles to keep these emissions low, while EV owners get a subsidy and other benefits while their emissions are higher? It makes no sense.

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Old 09-26-2015, 10:27 AM   #137
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So I am asking myself, 'If I can't trust a German engineer, who can I trust?'.

I guess Scully and Mulder were right all along!
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Old 09-26-2015, 10:40 AM   #138
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So from a logical (not a legal) POV - if EVs produce more NOx/SOx than compliant ICEs, then shouldn't they also be charged a fee (not a 'fine'), to offset the NOx/SOx damage they do? And if not, then why are we ALL paying a 'fee' (increased cost and reduced performance/mpg) for our ICE vehicles to keep these emissions low, while EV owners get a subsidy and other benefits while their emissions are higher?
True, but the EV owner can choose a "green" different electrical supplier (on paper--the power still comes from the same place, but they trade credits).
And, should the electric power that goes to fuel an EV be subject to different criteria/fees/costs than the same power used to run residential lighting? The arbitrary "max" limits on various pollutants drive other tradeoffs that may not ultimately be in an individual's/society's best interests. If the introduction of these pollutants to the atmosphere causes damage, then include the remediation costs/counterincentive fee into the price of using it. That, better than anything else, will align the interests of people with that of everyone.
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Old 09-26-2015, 10:58 AM   #139
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Like many discussions, repeated periodically.

You can almost always find a credible article to support whatever view you hold on the internet...
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But there's a reason scientists aren't scrambling to write papers evaluating the precise present-day tradeoffs between electric cars and their internal-combustion counterparts. The present is short, and the future is long. Environmental trade-offs are changing all the time, mostly in electric cars' favor. Natural gas has already reduced coal's share of the national energy mix in recent years. And the new power added to the US grid each year is skewed much more heavily toward renewables than the current mix. If that trend holds, the Model S and other electric cars will only get cleaner. Besides, a lot of electric-car owners are already investing in solar power to charge their vehicles. Meanwhile, Tesla, Nissan, and other automakers are working feverishly to increase the efficiency and reduce the cost of batteries. The technology isn't advancing exponentially, as it has with computer processors, but it is advancing.

To use the nation's reliance on dirty coal as an argument against electric cars is to get things backward. Rather, the prospect of making cars far greener than they are today should count as yet another argument against the nation's continued reliance on dirty coal.
How Green Is a Tesla, Really? | Mother Jones

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Old 09-26-2015, 11:11 AM   #140
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So I am asking myself, 'If I can't trust a German engineer, who can I trust?'.
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