Diesel emissions scandal

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Scandals relating to higher than reported emissions from diesel engines began in 2014, when the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) reported discrepancies between European and US models of vehicles. Beginning with the VW scandal, vehicles built by a wide range of car makers were found to emit higher levels of pollution under real world driving conditions. Independent tests carried out by the German car club ADAC proved that, under normal driving conditions, diesel vehicles including the Volvo S60, Renault's Espace Energy and the Jeep Renegade, exceeded legal European emission limits for nitrogen oxide (NOx) by more than 10 times.[1] ICCT and ADAC showed the biggest deviations from Volvo, Renault, Jeep, Hyundai, Citroën and Fiat.[2][3][1]

Researchers have criticized the inadequacy of current regulations and called for the use of a UN-sanctioned test called Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedures that better reflects real-life driving conditions. The test is not due to come into force until 2017, with critics saying that car firms have lobbied fiercely to delay its implementation due to the high cost of meeting stricter environmental controls.[3]

Conservative Internal Market spokesman Daniel Dalton[4] - who led the legislation through the European Parliament - described the previous regulations as "at best patchy and at worst ineffective." and said his latest 2018 report introduced a strong, transparent system to ensure cars are safe and meet emissions standards.

Nitrogen oxide (NOx) on-road emissions by manufacturer and capacity[5]
  Average NOx emission (g/km)
  Euro 6 NOx emission limit (g/km)

Since 2016, 38 out of 40 diesel cars tested by ADAC failed a NOx-test.[6]

Manufacturers[edit]

Volkswagen[edit]

The Volkswagen emissions scandal started on 18 September 2015, when the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to German automaker Volkswagen Group. Volkswagen had intentionally programmed Turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel engines to activate emissions controls only during emissions testing.

In January 2017, VW pleaded guilty to the emissions scandal and to pay US$4.3 billion in penalties. As of January 2019, 13 VW employees have been indicted, including former CEO Martin Winterkorn, and two former executives (Oliver Schmidt and James Robert Liang) have pleaded guilty in US court and sentenced to prison terms.[7][8]

Chrysler[edit]

On 12 January 2017, the EPA issued a notice of violation in 2017 to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) alleging that over 100,000 model year 2014, 2015, and 2016 diesel SUVs and trucks, including Dodge Ram 1500 and Jeep Grand Cherokee trucks had software that allowed them to exceed NOx pollution limits, undetected by the usual testing methods. The EPA discovered this during their expanded vehicle tests following the Volkswagen case. FCA was not accused of intentionally cheating on emissions testing, though the EPA did accuse the company of failing to notify the government of the defeat device programming. The US Justice Department was assisting the EPA in their investigation, suggesting the possibility of criminal charges, while FCA executives were hopeful that after the inauguration of President Donald Trump it would be possible to "work with the new administration to try and get this issue behind us", according to FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne.[9][10] Executives denied any wrongdoing but stated to make extensive changes to their vehicle software to address the EPA's concerns.[11]

As part of a January 2019 settlement, Fiat Chrysler will recall and repair approximately 100,000 automobiles equipped with a 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel engine having a prohibited defeat device, pay $311 million in total civil penalties to US regulators and CARB, pay $72.5 million for state civil penalties, implement corporate governance reforms, and pay $33.5 million to mitigate excess pollution. The company will also pay affected consumers up to $280 million and offer extended warranties on such vehicles worth $105 million. The total value of the settlement is worth about $800 million, though FCA did not admit liability, and it did not resolve an ongoing criminal investigation.[12]

Jeep[edit]

Jeep, also manufactured by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was tested by the consumer group Which? and in March 2017 found to produce 1.74 g/km NOx compared to the 2009 European emission standards Euro 5 legal limit of 0.18 g/km.[13]

Nissan[edit]

In September 2015 Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said it would be difficult for an automaker to conceal internally an effort to falsify vehicle emissions data, as happened at Volkswagen AG: "I don't think you can do something like this hiding in the bushes."[14]

In May 2016, South Korean authorities accused Nissan of using a defeat device for manipulating emissions data for the British-built Nissan Qashqai, allegations which the Japanese carmaker denied.[15] In March 2017, Nissan vehicles tested by Which? were found to produce 0.81 g/km NOx compared to the 2009 European emission standards Euro 5 legal limit of 0.18 g/km.[13]

Renault[edit]

Renault issued press statements in 2015 reaffirming their vehicles' compliance with all regulations and legislation for the markets in which they operate.[16]

Cars tested from Renault and Peugeot, whose headquarters were raided by fraud investigators in January and April 2016, respectively. Renault subsequently recalled 15,000 cars for emission testing and fixing.[17][18][19]

Since 2015, Renault has been investigated by the French Direction générale de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des fraudes (DGCCRF). Their 2017 report states “the suspicion of the installation of a ‘fraudulent device’ which specifically modifies the functioning of the engine to reduce emissions of NOx (nitrogen oxides) in conditions specific to the regulatory tests.” It affects 900,000 vehicles. Renault Captur and Clio IV exceeded the threshold for carbon dioxide emissions by 377% and 305%.[20]

Mercedes[edit]

From 2016 to 2018, there were increasingly specific allegations of defeat devices in the control software for Mercedes U.S. cars. In Feb 2018, German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported that US authorities investigating Mercedes have discovered that its vehicles are equipped with illegal software to help them pass United States' stringent emission tests. The claimed defeat devices include a Bit 15 mode to switch off emissions after 16 miles of driving (the length of an official U.S. emissions test), and Slipguard which tries to directly determine if the car is being tested based on speed and acceleration profiles.[21][22][23][24]

Previous defeat device cases[edit]

The Volkswagen TDI diesel emissions case is not the first use of defeat devices by Volkswagen or other automakers nor the first time automakers have taken advantage of their foreknowledge of the specific lab test conditions in order to engage emissions controls only during testing, but not during normal driving.[25]

In 1973 Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Toyota, and Volkswagen had to remove ambient temperature switches which affected emissions, though the companies denied intentional cheating and said that strategies like enriching fuel mixture during cold engine warm-up periods could reduce overall pollution.[26][27][28] The switches were ordered removed from production but cars already on the road did not have to be recalled, and fines were relatively modest.[27][28]

In 1996, GM had to pay a near-record fine of $11 million, and recall 470,000 vehicles, because of ECU software programmed to disengage emissions controls during conditions known to exist when the cars were not being lab tested by the EPA.[29] The model year 1991–1995 Cadillacs were programmed to simply enrich the engine's fuel mixture, increasing carbon monoxide (CO) and unburned hydrocarbon (HC) pollution, any time the car's air conditioning or heater was turned on, since the testing protocol specified they would be off.[29]

In 1996, Fiat of Brazil paid a record fine because of the Fiat Mille Electronic, a very popular version of the Fiat Uno with a 1.0-litre engine. They sold 500,000 vehicles with a combination of carburettor and digital ignition that uses different strategies for laboratory or street driving conditions.[citation needed]

In 1998, Honda Motor Company had to spend $267 million to correct the disabling of the misfire monitoring device on 1.6 million 1996 and 1997 model year vehicles, and Ford Motor Company paid $7.8 million for programming 60,000 1997 Ford Econoline vans to exceed emissions standards during normal highway cruising speeds.[30]

A timer-based strategy was used by seven heavy truck manufacturers, Caterpillar Inc., Cummins Engine Company, Detroit Diesel Corporation, Mack Trucks, Navistar International, Renault Vehicules Industriels, and Volvo Trucks, who in 1998 paid the largest ever fine to date, $83.4 million, for, in the same manner as Volkswagen, programming trucks to keep NOx emissions low during the test cycle, and then disabling the controls and emitting up to three times the maximum during normal highway driving.[31]

The goal of both the Ford and the heavy truck defeat devices was better fuel economy than could be achieved under pollution limits.[31] The major truck manufacturers also had to spend up to $1 billion to correct the problem, which affected 1.3 million heavy duty diesel trucks.[25][31]

While Volkswagen's actions have precedents, the Center for Auto Safety's Clarence Ditlow said that Volkswagen "took it to another level of sophisticated deception we've never seen before."[25]

EU vehicle approval procedures[edit]

In May 2017, the 28 EU member states agreed to begin negotiations with EU institutions to revise the method of testing vehicle emissions towards real circumstances, with random testing of vehicles on the roads and fines for manufacturers who breach the rules.[32]


Eben Moglen has suggested in 2010 to make proprietary software source code in general accessible to the public, to curb cheating.[33][34]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Wide range of cars emit more pollution in realistic driving tests, data shows", The Guardian, retrieved 1 October 2015
  2. ^ NOX control technologies for Euro 6 Diesel passenger cars, Market penetration and experimental performance assessment, Liuhanzi Yang, Vicente Franco, Alex Campestrini, John German, and Peter Mock. ICCT in collaboration with ADAC, 3 September 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Volkswagen emissions scandal: More carmakers implicated as tests reveal pollution levels of popular diesels", The Independent, retrieved 1 October 2015
  4. ^ "New rules will prevent another Dieselgate scandal - Conservative MEPs". conservativeeurope.com. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  5. ^ Valentino, Stefano (18 June 2018). "Diesel engines emissions exceed by far European limits". Stefano Valentino/MOBILEREPORTER/VOXEUROP/EDJNet. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
  6. ^ Buric, Christian (20 March 2017). "Verschärfter ADAC EcoTest: auch Benziner mit zu hohen Feinstaubwerten" [Stronger ADAC EcoTest: also petrol with too high fine particle count]. ADAC (in German). Retrieved 25 March 2017.
  7. ^ "VW seeks damages from ex-managers for emissions scandal: report". Reuters. 10 January 2019. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  8. ^ Krisher, Tom (18 January 2019). "Grand jury charges 4 Audi managers in emissions case". AP NEWS. The Associated Press. Retrieved 18 January 2019.
  9. ^ Snavely, Brent (January 13, 2017), "How Fiat Chrysler's diesel woes differ from VW scandal", Detroit Free Press, USA Today
  10. ^ Valentine, Julia P. (January 12, 2017), EPA Notifies Fiat Chrysler of Clean Air Act Violations; FCA allegedly installed and failed to disclose software that increases air pollution from vehicles, United States Environmental Protection Agency
  11. ^ Overly, Steven; Dennis, Brady (12 January 2017). "EPA: Fiat Chrysler used software to cheat on emissions tests". Washington Post. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
  12. ^ Shepardson, David (10 January 2019). "Fiat Chrysler agrees to $800 million U.S. diesel-emissions settlement". Reuters. Retrieved 11 January 2019.
  13. ^ a b "How diesel cars are pumping out NINE times the limit for harmful emissions - and Jeep, Nissan and Renault vehicles are worst offenders, reveal tests by Which ?". Daily Mail. 22 March 2017.
  14. ^ "Nissan CEO says it would be hard to hide any effort to falsify emissions data". Reuters.
  15. ^ "Nissan to be fined over $380,000 for emissions cheating in South Korea, environment ministry says". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 16 May 2016. Retrieved 19 May 2016.
  16. ^ VW Emissions Scandal: Motor Industry Reaction, Sky (United Kingdom), retrieved 1 October 2015
  17. ^ Toor, Amar (19 January 2016). "Renault to recall 15,000 vehicles for emissions tests in wake of VW scandal". The Verge. Retrieved 20 January 2016.
  18. ^ "Renault to modify 15,000 new cars in emission scare". UK: BBC News. 19 January 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2016.
  19. ^ "Renault to modify 15,000 new cars in emission scare". UK: BBC. 19 January 2016. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  20. ^ "Renault in emissions test fix report". The Connexion. 15 March 2017.
  21. ^ "BlueTec". 18 June 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018 – via Wikipedia.
  22. ^ "Daimler may have used software to cheat on US emissions tests". Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  23. ^ Editorial, Reuters. "Software may have helped Daimler pass U.S. emissions tests: report". Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  24. ^ "Abgasskandal: US-Ermittler belasten Daimler schwer". 18 February 2018. Retrieved 20 June 2018 – via Spiegel Online.
  25. ^ a b c Plungis, Jeff (27 September 2015), "Carmakers cheating on emissions almost as old as pollution tests", Daily Herald, Bloomberg News
  26. ^ "Auto makers and EPA split victories on '73 vehicles", Chronicle-Telegram,  – via Newspaperarchive (subscription required), 22 January 1973
  27. ^ a b "Defeat Devices Must Go", The News Herald,  – via Newspaperarchive (subscription required), United Press International, 23 January 1973
  28. ^ a b "VW emissions 'defeat device' isn't the first", AutoWeek, 24 September 2015, retrieved 26 September 2015
  29. ^ a b Myers, Laura (1 December 1995), "Cadillacs Recalled To Remove Illegal Device", The Buffalo News, Buffalo, New York:  – via HighBeam (subscription required), Associated Press
  30. ^ Alexander, David E. (August 1998), Clean Air Act Prohibits 'Defeat Devices' in Vehicles, Engines; Honda to Spend $267 Mil, Ford $7.8 Mil. to Settle Charges (PDF), United States Environmental Protection Agency
  31. ^ a b c Mack Trucks Diesel Engine Settlement, United States Environmental Protection Agency, 22 October 1998
  32. ^ "Dieselgate: the 28 agree to revise the Vehicle Licensing Act". The Brussels Times. 29 May 2017.
  33. ^ VW's Cheating Proves We Must Open Up the Internet of Things, Klint Finley, Wired, 24 September 2015.
  34. ^ Volkswagen's Diesel Fraud Makes Critic of Secret Code a Prophet, NY Times, 22 September 2015.

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