VW’s Dieselgate expands to include Audi, Skoda
In unsuprising news, reports are that many Audi and Skoda diesel vehicles were also fitted with the emissions test ‘defeat device’.
Volkswagen is not just one of the largest manufacturers of vehicles in the world, but also owner of several other marques – Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT and Skoda. Naturally, there’s platform sharing across the marques, and that appears to now include the defeat device. Reports in the UK’s Daily Telegraph indicate that Audi has admitted the emissions defeat device is in 2.1 million of its cars, and Skoda say it is in 1.2 million of theirs. That’s in addition to 5 million (down from 11) VW vehicles.
While dieselgate originated in north America, it’s a worldwide problem. American emission standards are the toughest in the world, the fact that cars fitted with the defeat device emit between 5 and 40 times more pollutants when it is not operating will ensure that even laxer standards cannot be met, which is likely to make all cars fitted with the device illegal. VW is ceasing sales of affected vehicles in some countries, notably Swizterland and Italy, with more set to follow. Speculation that VW would buy the Red Bull F1 racing team has now ended, as there’s no way they’ll have the money for it or want to be seen to be focusing on anything other than making this right.
Closer to home, VW Australia has yet to comment on the matter, but it appears likely that Aussie cars also have the device. So here’s some speculation about the effects.
The implications are immense – essentially, cars that should never have passed emissions testing are on the road. And through no fault of the owners. Even worse, the fixes are not straightforwards.
An easy fix from VW’s perspective would be to simply run the vehicle in test mode all the time – with the defeat device activated. However, there would be a penalty to pay for the owner – fuel efficiency, power and torque. Exactly what and how much isn’t know, but there has to be some sort of downside to running the device at all times, otherwise it wouldn’t enable and disable. VW will like this option, as will the environmental agencies, but owners won’t, and could potentially sue VW on the basis that the car they bought is no longer the car they own as its performance is reduced.
Another option is to do the job properly and engineer a fix that meets emissions standards and retains the performance of the vehicle. This is good for the owners, but not for VW as it would be horrendously expensive, probably involving an additive called urea (also known as AdBlue) to their cars.
A big problem is getting people to care. This isn’t a safety issue, it’s “just” the environment. Would you want your car’s performance reduced? Or would you want to give it up for a few days to have a quick fix applied that gives you no benefit? Many owners will, but many won’t bother. But that’s an issue too, becuase VW has let illegal cars out onto the road, so it presumably liable to fix the problem and the government is unlikely to let the issue lie. It’s not like a leaky window, it’s more like a critical safety issue. The fact it’s intentional, not a natural error means there’s going to be a lot less sympathy for VW than would normally be the case in such matters.
This story has a long way to go. And now the ex CEO of VW is under police investigation in Germany.
If you own a VW in Australia wait for the announcement and guidance from VW Australia. They can’t be far off making a statement, and we’ll report here soon as they do.
In the meantime, a few other carmakers are cautiously assuring they have no defeat devices of their own. And despite it all, VW only got to their size by making good vehicles – we’ve got a review of the latest Golf R and Alltrack.