September 23, 2015
German car manufacturing giant, Volkswagen, this September went on record admitting that it had installed in its car a particular software that was capable of altering the emission results.
This software, the company has admitted having installed in 11 million of its diesel engine cars. These cars were sold between 2009 and 2015. This has resulted in such vehicles emitting up to 40 times greater than the legal permissible limit of nitrogen oxide. Ironically, such engines have also passed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) test for emission.
This only came to light after several diesel engines of Volkswagen were investigated by EPA and the California Air Resources Board. It was found that Volkswagen took advantage of the engine control unit firmware programming techniques in vehicles equipped with TDI diesel engines.
Starting from the year 2009 this German car giant started to migrate its light-duty passenger vehicle TDI diesel engines to a common-rail fuel injection system. This kind of system takes advantage of electronically-controlled fuel injectors and higher injection pressure thus allowing higher-precision fuel delivery. This also results in superior control of emissions, better air and fuel ratio control.
In 2014, authorities in California State challenged Volkswagen over tests showing emissions exceeding permissible levels of U.S. federal limits. However, this German car giant held off on admitting its wrongdoing not until regulators threatened to withhold certification for its 2016 diesel models.
In the U.S. diesel vehicles are not as popular as they are in Europe. They also make up much less of the market than in Europe. However, if what auto industry consultant LMC Automotive says is to be believed, Volkswagen is a dominant player in the category of diesel light vehicles that were sold last year. Volkswagen accounted for about one fifth of diesel light vehicles in this segment sold last year.
This has created a ripple effect of sorts. Firstly, Volkswagen shares plunged more than 20 per cent as soon as the company admitted its malpractice. The company also lost about $17 billion in market value. This, experts say is the biggest single day fall that the company has experienced in its history. Charges of evading government pollution controls have been slapped on the German auto giant by U.S. regulators. This means Volkswagen should urgently fix nearly 5,00,000 cars.
It has to be a wait and watch to see how emissions control board in Germany and in Europe react to this Volkswagen’s malpractice. Back home in Coimbatore, officials at Volkswagen were unable for comment if Volkswagen’s Indian car owners had something to worry about in the wake of all this.
When this news was reported, businessman Raja Selvaraj of Peelamedu was glad that he sold his Volkswagen Polo eight weeks ago. “I wish to purchase a second hand BMW. I sold my Volkswagen Polo to a car company who is involved in the purchase and selling of used cars. I am glad I did it at the right time,” Raja says.
Post news about Volkswagen involved in malpractice raises issues about the credibility of the brand. Chartered Accountant Karthik P. who is planning to purchase a new car now has second thoughts of purchasing any vehicle from the Volkswagen brand.
As it stands, Volkswagen surely has a lot of damage control to do where its car sales are convened.