Volkswagen is facing flak from the global community for what has come to be known as the "Dieselgate" incident. The automotive giant from Germany has publicly admitted to cheating in emission tests in the US for their diesel engines. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has uncovered that certain Volkswagen diesel engines could detect when they are being tested, and enter "test mode", lowering performance and emissions when undergoing the test in order to improve their green ratings. This is a software "cheat" and nothing physical is different in the tweaked cars. The affected engine is the 2009-generation TDI diesel (EA189), and it is programmed to operate one particular way whilst being in test mode, and another way while on the road.
Volkswagen proceeded to win numerous awards through their falsified emission tests, starting in 2009. This effectively availed themselves to green car subsidies and tax exemptions within the USA. They have also benefited from increased profits through this lie, by fervently and dishonestly green-marketing their diesel cars with a huge campaign, focusing on its low emissions. Little did the green-loving consumers know that they are driving around toxic-fume-spitting diesel guzzlers.
In the simplest terms, the "cheating software" comes into operation by monitoring speed, engine operation, air pressure and a host of other factors capable of detection by its metrics. When certain conditions are fulfilled, a few lines of code come alive within the software written by VW engineers, "cheat mode" is engaged, lowering the engine's performance and emission numbers. Outside of "cheat mode" it will operate "normally", and what "normally" does is release positively toxic fumes into the atmosphere. How toxic are these fumes you ask? The fumes released outside of test mode are at an estimated 40xover permitted levels.
In summary, VW lied about how much emissions their diesel engines really release into the atmosphere, thus availing themselves to green financial incentives from both the government and the public. Laws in America allow the EPA to levy fines up to $37,500 per vehicle recalled in the USA. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates approximately 482,000 cars in the United States are affected, but VW has openly admitted that 11 million cars worldwide are running on roads fitted with this "cheat software".
Volkswagen and Michael Horn is commended for his actions, admitting a shameful thing to the public in his "German Words"; but they knew they lying since 2009, and as of now, the engine in question (EA189) is being phased out in favour of the next generation diesel (EA288). The negative impact such an announcement can have on their profits reduces, as the longer they delayed the announcement. For all this, the German automotive giant is being fined for $18 billion (RM78.85 billion).
What does this mean for Malaysians?
Well, Volkswagen has only introduced diesel engines to our country since 2012. The one and only diesel introduced by Volkswagen into the Malaysian market is the 3.0L Touareg TDI, and it is not one of the models affected. The Volkswagen Malaysia website however, is no longer fielding any diesel models. If you are interested in the complete list of all cars affected, please follow this link for more details on the Telegraph.
Here is the actual announcement by Michael Korn.
Excerpt from speech :- "Our company was dishonest, with the EPA, and the California Air Resources Board, and with all of you. And in my German words, we have totally screwed. We must fix those cars, prevent this from happening again, and we have to make things right; with the government, the public, our customers, our employees, and also very important, our dealers. And this kind of behaviour is completely inconsistent with our values... We are committed to do what needs to be done and to begin to restore your trust."