The Obama Administration have ordered the Volkswagen Automotive Group to recall almost 500,000 vehicles after claims that illegally installed software on diesel vehicles are avoiding proper use of smog reducing parts. Presumably this falls under the umbrella of catalytic converters and diesel particulate filters. Either way, it doesn’t sound great for Volkswagen.
what happened there?
According to The New York Times, the Environmental Protection Agency actually accused Volkswagen of using so-called software to detect when the car is undergoing its ‘periodic state emissions testing’. This sounds like its similar to the typical MOT emissions test over here in the UK. They claim that only during these testing procedures do the cars’ ECU’s then decrease the emissions outputted. Under normal driving conditions the low emissions settings are not implemented allowing the cars to ‘spew 40 times as much pollution as allowed under the Clean Air Act’ said the Environmental Protection agency.
Cynthia Giles, the E.P.As assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance claims they expected better from Volkswagen. Cynthia also went on to say that Volkswagen’s actions are, and I quote, “a threat to public health”.
V.A.G have actually been issued a notice of violation and have admitted to the used of software or hardware that has achieved such results.
The recall the E.P.A have ordered includes 4-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi vehicles from MY2009-2015.
So if you’re reading this from the states, and this is news to you – you had better get ready for a recall on your vehicle!
what is the big deal with emissions anyway?
So here is breakdown of terminology and dangers of pollution:
Smog – This essentially describes a mixture of emissions. It can be anything from, cars, agricultural vehicles, incinerators, industry pollutants and so on. Generally it is visible under certain climate conditions.
Ozone – The Ozone layer is said to be natural gas composed of three atoms of oxygen, which chemical symbol is O3. Normal Oxygen, as we know it, is called O2. O3, is said to be fairly strong in odour and blue in colour and as you may know O2 is colourless and odourless until polluted.
According to the E.P.A, breathing in large quantities of pollution like this can cause a variety of negative effects on the lungs. This can include; difficulty breathing, asthma symptoms or worsening of asthma in people that already suffer the condition, lung damage, coughing and irritation to the trachea and/or chest.
Children and older folk are at greater risk of harm. If you are asthmatic it is advised you carry your medication at all times, and in case of emergency – dial your local emergency helpline.
You can also check pollution levels of areas you either currently live in or may be looking to travel to. The E.P.A have developed a database called the Air Quality Index (AQI) that reports levels of pollutions across the United States of America.
I know here in Leeds, we have a monitoring system on Otley Road, Headingley (opposite the Sky Rack, for those in the know). This section of Otley Road was once deemed the busiest road in Europe for its size. With high levels of students in the area both commuting and living, emissions were a rising concern.
Anyway, the long and short of it is that these gasses can cause respiratory diseases or even premature death. So, reducing the emissions emitted as a society should ultimately be very high on our list of priorities.
Why don’t we just run our cars on low emission software all the time?
Sure, we can do that but you won’t have as much performance.
So it is always a balancing act with automakers. The good news is, over the last 20 years we have increased performance substantially, and decreased our emissions also substantially. Now, as far as I’m concerned, Rome wasn’t built in a day. It has taken new forms of technology to reduce our emissions, fuels are cleaner, the recent purge on turbocharger usage, our catalytic converters were introduced and improved and so on.
It is a steady process but in around 50 years you could be driving something with a few hundred ponies that does a very small amount of damage to the ozone layer ultimately making a safer world to live in for years to come.
Volkswagen are in trouble, yes
This is a big deal basically. Again, according to The New York Times article on the subject – Volkswagen could be facing a fine of £24,146.05 per recalled vehicle. This could total a whopping £11.5bn. Now that is a lot of money!
What do I need to worry about?
Ultimately, nothing. Sit back and wait for a notice from Volkswagen. They will be going through all the serial numbers of these computers and the vehicles they were installed on and should you be contacted it shouldn’t cost you a cent (or a penny in our terms). The process is probably very quick, I imagine your car wont be in the garage for any more than 24 hours as this is probably only a case of editing the software on the ECU. This can be done while you wait, but should you need a new part I’m sure VW will be more than equipped for the job.
Source: The New York Times