Your emails: What you need to know about the VW emissions scandal
I'm Brian Cooley from CNET On Cars answering some of your emails about high tech cars and modern driving.
And just about all the ones we've received lately has to do with this VW emissions debacle.
Some of our questions come in from Chris C. in Chicago who says, you know, in the U.S. we kind of just seem to hate diesel.
For some reason you think the media is just zooming in on the problem especially hard.
Kelvin C says, I know you like diesel engines.
He's referring to me, and I do.
I'd love to hear your perspective on why VW would do this and what a repair would like for VW diesel owners.
And Peter T. says how about a discussion of old versus new diesel technology that helped enable this scandal to happen in the first place.
This is an unprecedented issue in the auto Auto industry.
Sure, we've had some big debacles before.
Look back at what's happened with Toyota Gate.
That was the unintended acceleration.
Hyundai and Ford had some issues with stated versus observed MPG that were pretty stark.
General Motors, still working through an enormous recall on badly designed ignition switches.
Jeep had some unprotected rear fuel tanks, that were a big problem, and of course, Takata's massive recall of airbags that explode.
But, all of those are in a different category than what Volkswagen has done.
The revelation of some 11 million Volkswagen and Audi turbo diesel powered cars have technology to willfully and repeatedly skirt Emissions standards is truly unprecedented.
Specifically, VW engineered the software in their engine ECU on these cars, that's the engine electronic control unit, to sense when it's hooked up to an emissions testing program, and then to modify its own software parameters to meet low emissions standards.
Then when the car sensed it was disconnected from an emissions test, it went to a different profile entirely that allowed it to get better performance, but at vastly higher emissions, ten to 40 times the legal allowed rate, and to do it actively when not connected to an emissions test is what is so evil about that.
Not that many years ago the engine control units weren't that sophisticated.
It would have been almost impossible for VW to engineer this kind of deceitful behavior.
I bet a lot of folks there wish it were those days right now.
They wouldn't have been able to step in it like they did.
Instead, they've taken a huge hit on many fronts.
It's cost them who knows how much in market values, measured in billions of euros.
They've lost their CEO.
They've yet to even see likely billions in penalties from US regulators, and they've gotta figure out what to do with all those cars on the road.
Somewhere from an expensive re-engineering and recall to possibly the largest buyback in automotive history and they've given diesel cars a black eye in the US market, a market that was already kind of mm sketchy on them in the first place.
In all it's an amazing case of an auto maker abusing The sophisticated power of modern electronic engine technology.