Update on the Volkswagen situation

Update on the Volkswagen situation

Oct 7, 2015

Update on the Volkswagen situation

Volkswagen Ireland has launched a website where owners of cars affected by the diesel emissions scandal can check and see if their cars need to be recalled.

Simply by going to www.campaigncheck.ie and entering the vehicle's registration number, owners can find out if their Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT or Skoda is one of those affected by the so-called 'defeat device' software, which was used to cheat on US emissions tests.

The website also has a statement by Volkswagen Ireland boss Lars Himmer, who says: "In October, Volkswagen Group will present the relevant technical solutions and measures to the responsible authorities. Volkswagen has repeatedly stated that it will actively inform all the customers who are concerned and this continues to apply over the coming weeks and months."

As many as 79,348 Irish cars are thought to be affected. The 2.0-litre diesel engines will need a change to the vehicle's engine control software, but it's possible that 1.6-litre diesel engines will also need some hardware changed, such as the diesel injectors and possibly the addition of a urea injection kit to clean up the exhaust. It's possible that some models may also need a larger catalytic convertor fitted to the exhaust.

As yet, we don't know precisely what difference to the drivability of the cars the software and hardware changes will make. A US website has tested a 2011 2.0-litre TDI Jetta and found that while the peak torque and power figures don't change very much when the 'defeat device' software is apparently active, there are significant changes in the way in which power and torque are delivered, potentially making the cars more sluggish to drive at low speeds.

Today, the 7th of October, is the deadline for Volkswagen to present to the German government its plan for dealing with the crisis. While a recall and a change of software and hardware to the affected cars is the most likely outcome, apparently the Volkswagen board is also considering a 'nuclear option' of actually giving the owners of those cars new vehicles, which are fully compliant.

It is still possible that there may not be a need to recall cars in Europe, as there is, as yet, no solid proof that the software in question was active during the European fuel economy and emissions tests. The German government has claimed that it was, but as yet the EU has not confirmed this. If the software can be shown to have not been active during the tests, then European Volkswagens may yet be given a clean bill of health. A Volkswagen spokesman, Eric Felber, said: "We're working as quickly as we can to find a solution for our customers." He declined to comment on specific options. "As soon as we can give a reliable statement to that end, we will do so without delay." Volkswagen has sent a letter to members of the European parliament admitting that its cars were capable of cheating on the tests, but has stopped short of an outright admission.

There is also the faint possibility that 1.6-litre diesel engines of the affected EA189 engine family will not be part of the recall. Injectors and control systems for that engine were supplied by Continental, which has said that its software would be incompatible with a 'defeat device.' Software for the larger 2.0-litre engine came from Bosch, which has admitted to including the 'defeat device' code in the software, but says that it warned Volkswagen at the time that the code was for testing purposes only and would be illegal to use in the cars outside of the factory.

There has been at least one bit of bright news for Volkswagen this week as it emerged that its sales in the US for September were almost unchanged, and in fact went up fractionally by 145 cars. Analysts polled by Bloomberg News had been predicting a 6.7 per cent fall, on average. "We would like to thank dealers and customers for the support of the Volkswagen brand," Mark McNabb, COO of Volkswagen of America, said in a statement. "Volkswagen will continue to work diligently to regain trust and confidence in our brand."

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