Little by little we know new details of fraud of TDI Volkswagen . Details that at least bring some light to the subject but, far from reassuring. Michael Horn (President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.) appear this afternoon (morning, local time) in the United States Congress, in order to testify about one of major scandals in the automotive industry in a long time. A testimony that we know in advance (see document White House) and the Horn publicly recognize the illegal use of strategies to adulterate the approval of their diesel emissions and, of course, apologize. The big problem, and the latest revelation, that in 2014 Volkswagen were already aware that something serious was happening, that researchers had found important irregularities, and the serious consequences that would face . Here is a brief chronology of what happened.
Evidence of the West Virginia University began in 2013. They chose three cars, rented and borrowed a Jetta, a Passat and X5.
May 2013 . West Virginia University is working on a study to analyze emissions from passenger cars and light diesel in the United States. The study aims to analyze, among other things, the actual emissions of these vehicles in normal use, outside of a controlled environment approval procedure. For their study, they choose three vehicles, two MY2012 and MY2013 . Three vehicles initially anonymous, until a few days ago jumped the Volkswagen scandal.
The reason for performing this study was simply to see if emissions diesel announcing correspond with reality. The researchers of this team ensure that at no time sought to uncover a scandal involving a brand or a millionaire as this fraud, among other things because they could hardly imagine that the cars would be analyzed and could hide a fraud.
In 2014 the West Virginia University publishes study, maintaining the anonymity of the vehicles tested, and warning the EPA and the anomalous result that Volkswagen had thrown the Jetta and Passat.
May 2014 . A year later, the results are made public, maintaining the anonymity of the vehicles chosen for the test, revealing that in real conditions NOx emissions are much higher (by a factor of 5-20 times higher for the vehicle B and 15 35 times higher for the vehicle) to the limits set by US approvals, the US-EPA Tier 2-Bin 5. See study of West Virginia University.
Spring 2014 . The West Virginia University informs Volkswagen figures that cast its study, by confirming that had been done on a Volkswagen Jetta (rented) and a Volkswagen Passat (supplied by a neighbor) equipped with a four-cylinder engine, 2.0 liters of displacement and TDI . The third vehicle study, which showed discrepancies concern was a BMW X5 (also rented) with six-cylinder diesel engine and 3.0 liters. At that time Volkswagen has already been warned that they could face a serious irregularity of emission standards in the United States and that they could face serious fines and even further study would investigate the presence of defeat device , ie, a device that would alter the engine operating conditions of approval and in actual conditions to obtain a more favorable approval numbers.
The researchers had already warned that Volkswagen EPA would get on the trail of a “defeat device” and the serious consequences that would imply they discovered their presence in TDI .
With this information in their hands, Volkswagen – at least – had to be aware that there was a serious problem in their diesel. A problem that, if identified by US authorities, could generate as important as the scandal that has occurred in recent weeks, a year after that first notice.
At that time, the EPA (the US Environment Protection Agency) was also informed, as Volkswagen, that both the Jetta, and Passat, had thrown emission figures NOx in remote real conditions of homologated. The investigation was under way.
Volkswagen insisted that measurements researchers lacked rigor, but in the spring of 2015 launched a recall for some of its TDI .
At the end of 2014 . Following those reports, a team of engineers from Volkswagen went to work with US agencies, and researchers, to clarify the problem and solve it. In late 2014, apparently, Volkswagen had already located the problem and the remedy, or at least that was the information that Michael Horn acknowledges receipt.
The big question that may never know is if that information included knowledge of the use of a defeat device , and if those responsible for its installation were a small group in charge of developing the engines or, instead, it was something known among members of the leadership of the brand in the United States and / or in Wolfsburg. Anyway, Volkswagen in 2014 and should have investigated more forcefully a case that investigators uncovered a budget of just a few tens of thousands of dollars.
The answer I gave then Volkswagen in line with this research, which had not yet been made public opinion (at least the fact that the vehicles involved were Volkswagen), was simply to download responsibility stating that investigators had not conducted their tests correctly, ignorance of the technology used by Volkswagen (The Sacramento Bee).
Even with the review of TDI , the EPA is finding significant discrepancies, which are explained only by the existence of a “defeat device”.
April 2015 . Volkswagen makes a recall in the United States of some models sold between 2010 and 2014 that use the 2.0 TDI . In that call to review warns of a software update, related to engine emissions. Following that call for review, the EPA got down to work to investigate a 2012 Passat, which had received this update, and check if everything worked properly. Apparently the review was a modification of that altered operation software and regeneration systems that handle neutralize NOx emissions.
May 2015 . The revised engines had improved NOx emissions, but apparently continued to offer too high figures. By then, Volkswagen continued to believe that those investigations were not carried out with the necessary rigor. And EPA and researchers at West Virginia University were getting closer to unraveling the mystery. NOx emissions were very high in real terms, but surprisingly low in very concrete, especially in cold conditions.
July 2015 . At these evidences, researchers they came to do various tests on a dynamometer. They started with some tests like those used in the approval of NOx to be changing gradually the procedure, with different sequences of stops, starts and acceleration, to ensure that at any given emissions soared, discovering evidence of a system that could make those engines emit more or less polluting gases depending on whether these were being tested in a type test, or in conditions of real movement.
In September jumps scandal. 20 days before the statement reporting the research which has faced Volkswagen, the German mark had already recognized before the EPA their engines used a “defeat device”.
September 3, 2015 . In early September (ie, two weeks before the big party that, for a German manufacturer as the Volkswagen Group, is the Frankfurt) brand recognized to California authorities (the California Air Resources Board) and EPA , the TDI four cylinders marketed between 2009 and 2015 contained a defeat device , a system considered illegal in the approval emissions.
By then, Volkswagen had already recognized guilty of a case (not be made public until 20 days) which would be a major setback for the brand.
Again, avoiding the debate about how far the knowledge of the illegal use of this device (which Volkswagen defends only knew a few) he came, and assuming that the upper echelons of the brand was unaware of its existence, is not he could have acted differently to solve the problem before? Do you have prevented or mitigated the crisis that has put into question everything achieved by Volkswagen for decades?