The first references to the VW scandal in the United States came from Germany. There were researchers in Berlin, in which the suspect exhaust observed values. Then months followed by years of detective work.
For more than a year, the prestigious Institute of ICCT (International Council on Clean Transportation), the Volkswagen group was on the heels. The researchers searched for a Long time, the controversial question of how many pollutants, diesel vehicles really. Especially nitrogen oxides in the exhaust gases a health hazard, damage the respiratory tract of people.
In the past year, resulting in a Test of European diesel models from Volkswagen and BMW contradictions. Peter Mock, managing Director of ICCT Europe, then the operation of his colleagues in the United States. You should not repeat the Tests there, where the statutory emission limits are the strictest in the world? The US models need to get through the emissions tests, locker that was the assumption.
“We had no reason for suspicion,” said John German, ICCT-the Co-Director in the United States, “Bloomberg”. “We thought the cars would be clean.” The researchers of the small environmental research Institute sought the help of West Virginia University. The Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions had all the required equipment: a portable PEMS unit for the trunk, which measures a probe in the exhaust, the exhaust gas composition and at the same time, data such as speed, acceleration, and exhaust gas temperature.
BMW X5 for the US market: the US limits are met primarily
The test setup at the University of West Virginia and of the ICCT:
- The scientists took the models VW Jetta (2012), VW Passat (2013), and BMW X5. The desired Mercedes model does not stand up to them at that time about car rental companies at the Test location, such as Mock said.
- The University of West Virginia went to the mountain with the PEMS prepared cars on five different routes (Highway, city, country, and downhill). The ICCT tested the models on the official test set by the California Air Resources Board (Carb), California environmental protection Agency.
- The Passat was also sent on a 4000-kilometre-long Highway-route between the U.S. States of California and Washington.
- The VW Jetta was equipped with a NOx storage catalyst, the nitrogen oxides like a sponge binds. The VW Passat and the BMW X5 had a so-called SCR-catalyst, which splits by means of a about AdBlue-mentioned solution of urea, the nitrogen oxides into nitrogen and water.
- All of the cars were checked before the Test for possible Defects in the engine or the control software.
The result: The three cars passed without Further notice, the official Carb Tests. However, the results of the nitrogen oxide measurements under real-world conditions surprised John German:
- The West Virginia University measured the nitrogen oxide values were in the VW Jetta in General, the 15 – to 35-Fold and the VW Passat in the 5 – to 20-Times the legal US limit.
- The BMW X5 meet the nitrogen oxide requirements in General, and was only going uphill.
The suspicion of Manipulation was aroused.
The US model of the VW Jetta: nitrogen oxide emissions was up to 35 Times above the limit
In may 2014, initiated Carb and the U.S. environmental protection Agency, Epa, because of the study, an official investigation against Volkswagen. For several months meetings were held, such as the Epa in a letter to VW of 18. September describes. VW tried to replicate the results of the University, and then proclaimed to have error in the engine control software found. In December 2014, the manufacturer recalled nearly 500,000 of its cars in the United States, a Software Update was installed.
The California authority of Carb verified after the recall, whether the program correction had under real conditions of success: none. The Tests were extended to include the reason for the poor performance of VW cars to find out. In July, it informed the Epa and VW. At the same time the US authorities had to decide on the admission of the 2016 models from the VW and moved in view of the operations of the emergency brake. As long as the error was not found, there is no certification.
Since buckled Volkswagen, according to the Epa letter: “First there was the VW that the company in these cars, a switch-off device (defeat device), in the Form of a sophisticated Software algorithm is developed and installed. This can determine whether the car is being tested.” Or as the Epa representative Cynthia Giles explains: “Simply put: These cars had a program that turns off the emission limit during normal Driving, and in exhaust gas tests, turn them on.” The result of the Manipulation: a better engine performance at the expense of the environment.
The Disaster that threatens the future of Volkswagen in the United States, was open to the public. $ 482,000 in cars of seven-VW – and Audi-models since 2009 are equipped with a Defeat Device – the sale of certain cars for the model year 2015, the group has stopped. Volkswagen boss Martin Winterkorn announced comprehensive investigation and an external investigation.
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Editors ‘ note: In a previous Version, we wrote that Daimler, the University of West Virginia is not a Mercedes model to the Test. It was not, but rather, so that the car rental company had at the Test location, the desired Mercedes model in stock. The ICCT-Europe-in-chief Peter Mock, SPIEGEL ONLINE said.