Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Did Volkswagen (VW) cheat . . . . . The Big Question Answered

It appears that poor old VW, (Volkswagen) have fallen foul of American car emission laws by doing a sneaky, but it may not be quite as bad as it appears at first. And as far as I can see Volkswagen themselves may have fallen on their sword a little too quickly, and I will explain why.

You see the world has pointed at them, well American have and shouted cheats cheats cheats stand in the naughty corner. . . and Volkswagen has slumped off stuck the naughty hat on and are feeling very down about it. Well they would do this because in many ways they are the equivalent of the school swot within the world of car manufacturing, something some of our American friends have always resented a bit what with one thing and another.

Now imagine you are the school swot and in an exam you are asked the question. . . . What do you know about the effects of Blue shift when dealing with light refraction in neon. . .  You think a second and then answer . . . I know nothing about the effects of Blue shift when dealing with light refraction in neon. . .  It is not the answer that is wanted but it is a right answer and you get your ten points for getting it correct. No one else thought about that and so did not write anything. Then afterwards the teacher tells the whole class what you did to make you feel bad, but was it wrong or was it a way of getting the points by giving an answer that complied to the question. . ????

You see this is at the heart of what Volkswagen did. They did not set out the test that the car was subjected to, in order to test the emissions of vehicles on roads in the USA, that was done by the American authorities. But back in Germany a rather clever software geek who looked at the test realised that the software that controls the emissions could be set to give a really great answer to the test, because the test conditions were fixed and rather predictable.  Now to me that is a bit cynical and underhand maybe, but not cheating, all it means is the test was wrong, in the same way the question. . . . . What do you know about the effects of Blue shift when dealing with light refraction in neon . . . . Is phrased wrong so that an answer can be given that is not actually the one required.   

A couple of years ago in Britain there was a huge scandal where politicians could manipulate their expenses to claim all sorts of stuff from duck houses to soft furnishings and posh televisions and the like. The politicians did not all put their hands up and say. . . .  sorry we cheated. . .  No they all said. . . we did not break the law. . . . in other words they were morally dodgy and corrupt, and may well still be for all I know, but it was not what might be called cheating more creative accounting.

And this is the key issue with Volkswagen have they really cheated or have they just made their vehicles fit the rules in a rather immoral way. It might seem a small point, but can you fine a firm for doing this . . . .  I suspect not, they have not actually broken the law.

One other point is that the emissions tests are a little pointless anyway because drivers all drive differently; do they have any relevance to a boy racer, granny, a commuter driving through the city each day, or a farmer sticking red diesel in his car or the man locally who ran his van on old chip shop cooking oil. . . That was one smelly van.  I think we can say No. Few folk drive their cars in a technically efficient manner.

If Volkswagen would like employ me to defend them in the American courts I will consider the offer although I am not cheap and don’t have a passport, so would need plenty of warning. . . . And I am very scruffy and don’t drive a Volkswagen but will if they give me one.

OOoooooo one other small point. Had Volkswagen supplied rigged non production cars to be tested in order to comply then that is cheating, but it appears all their cars have this cunning bit of software so that may not be right but it is not actually wrong (Legally speaking).


  1. I think that VW have cheated as they knew how to workaround the test, a bit like in Star Trek when Captain Kirk "cheated" on the kobayashi maru by changing the game... in fact - it is a lot like that.

    Next thing you know, VW will be kissing green aliens and shooting planets out of the sky for other reason than it chaffs his valour pullover.

    I have been known to be wrong though... so... maybe not.

    Naughty VW... ah-ah-ah NAUGHTY!

    1. Although I agree VW are very naughty, I cant help but think the issue might just be the testing. If manufacturers can make cars that all respond the same in the test then they could argue that is just part of the design. It is all a bit dodgy but is it cheating or just being manipulative.

      As Scotty himself would say . . . Its the Engines Captain they will nay take it.

  2. Er...that was all a bit confusing. I'll come back when my head stops hurting...

    1. I thought I had lost the argument when Mr H said he thought they were cheating, but by confusing you Miss Lily I feel I might still convince VW I am the right man to defend them in court (for a modest fee or a free camper van).

      Just remember to agree when I say . . . They are innocent me lud of all the charges and should be freed immediately. . .