My Skoda Octavia 103TDI is a #dieselgate emissions cheat UPDATED
Like Lance Armstrong, my Skoda Octavia 103TDI is a cheat. It’s a dirty, poisonous gas belching cheat and it’s all Volkswagen Group’s fault… #dieselgate.
UNLESS YOU’VE been living under a rock you’ll be aware that Volkswagen has been pinged for cheating emissions tests in the US. The scandal has been trending on social media via #dieselgate.
But it’s not just cars in the US that are caught up in the scandal. Nope. Cars all over the world, including my own 2011 Skoda Octavia 103TDI, are now considered to be environmental terrorists. Like Trojan Horse software hiding inside your computer, my Octavia 103TDI runs Volkswagen’s EA189 diesel engine type which featured a clever piece of software that could tell the car when it was being ’emissions tested’.
By putting the car into a ‘special’ mode, EA189 diesel engines were able to trick the US Clean Air Authority Board and EPA testers who tested the vehicle on a rolling road that the engines were cleaner than they actually are. This was discovered when CARB and EPA testers took the vehicles out into the real world using mobile pollution testing gear. Suddenly, it was found that the vehicles pumped out more pollution than originally thought. The defeat device as CARB and EPA term it, had been found.
And then, all of a sudden, the world went bonkers. Motoring writers started going on TV, Social Media, or anywhere where they can lay down there two cents worth of nonsense. Opinions from motoring writers saying they would still buy a Volkswagen… wow, great… who cares?!
See, I actually own one of the vehicles with an affected engine, so I’m going to start looking very deeply into his issue. I’ve always thought my 2011 Octavia 103TDI was easily one of the best diesel cars on the market; it’s quiet, doesn’t smell when it’s started up, is very thrifty at the bowser, and offers more grunt than its numbers alone would suggest.
But just how much dirtier is it than I originally thought? And what happens if I ignore Volkswagen/Skoda’s voluntary recall which involves around 5000 other Skodas in Australia, and many thousands more Volkswagens and Audis?
Why would I ignore the recall? Simple, the rumoured fix is to have the engine detuned to produce less power and torque and thus emissions. Now why would I want a less powerful car than the one I’d purchased. So, Volkswagen Group, answer that question. There are suggestions that people who’ve just purchased one of the EA189 engined cars might have their vehicle replaced with a brand new one that doesn’t have the EA189 engine, but what about those of us who own older models… we have to take a power and torque penalty because Volkswagen wanted to side-step Californian emissions guidelines and avoid having to pay the development costs to keep their cars clean…
Talking with a mechanic yesterday, Volkswagen, he reckons, simply set its ‘cheat device’ software to detect rolling road parameters, meaning the rear wheels weren’t turning and there was no steering input, among other things. Obviously, that cheat doesn’t work in the real world. More than that, the cheat would ‘lean out’ and introduce more air into the diesel being injected into the cylinders and thus, in a less than scientific description, release fewer tailpipe emissions. Clever boffins.
Obviously it was cheaper to produce the software ‘cheat’ than to engineer a solution to getting impressive power and torque, and fuel consumption figures and still bringing the car in within set emissions parameters.
Clearly emissions tests right around the world have fallen behind and so car makers have exploited that opportunity. And Volkswagen’s actions will have an effect not just on owners of the cars running EA189 family engines, but on Volkswagen Group itself, its shareholders, its thousands of employees and, ultimately the German economy.
So, this is a gigantic problem of epic proportions that is bigger than me and my family’s much-loved Octavia. Do we love our Octavia less because it’s a cheat? Nope. But we have decided to buy a bunch of trees and plants to go some way towards offsetting the extra emissions the thing has produced while we’ve owned it, and I’d advise other owners of EA189-toting Volkswagen Group products to do likewise.
I’ve left VW/Skoda a message asking about my car and why I should accept less power and torque because of their subterfuge. I haven’t heard back. I’ll let you know when I do. UPDATE: Since posting this article I’ve had contact with Volkswagen’s PR team and I’m assured my local Skoda service centre will be in touch to arrange a time to have the ‘recall’ work performed on my car. Once, they’ve worked out what will be done. Stay tuned. As soon as I hear more, I’ll share it here.
In the meantime, if you own one of the cars caught up in this scandal, let me know by leaving a comment below. And let me know what you’re doing about it… joining one of the class actions that are forming?