In a recent revelation by the US Emissions Department, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has said that the German giant auto manufacturer, Volkswagen has tricked the EPA Emission Tests by showing lower levels of pollutant emission than usual levels. Volkswagen has significant presence in the US market in terms of diesel vehicle sales as the company proclaims its diesel vehicles to be a fuel efficient alternative to the petrol powered vehicles. An assistant EPA administrator, Cynthia Giles has commented that EPA has discovered Volkswagen is using “Defeat Devices” which detect what is going on with the car and accordingly modifies the pollutant emission levels.
The so called Volkswagen’s “Defeat Device” isn’t any special hardware setup inside the vehicle but a rather software program bundled with the vehicle ECU which detects whether the car is undergoing an EPA test or not. When the system detects that the car is undergoing an EPA emission cycle test, it automatically runs a different engine calibration module which activates all the emission control systems. Thus, this makes them emission compliant. In real world driving conditions, the emission control systems are switched off and this potentially leads to almost 40 times increase in emissions. At present, this “Defeat Device” software code is found to be present in Volkswagen’s 2.0 litre turbo-charged diesel engine which powers its models like the US spec VW Passat, Jetta, Golf, Beetle and the Audi A3.
After the revelation by EPA, Volkswagen’s boss Martin Winterkorn has already issued an apology stating that the company is deeply sad to break customers’ and the peoples’ trust. Volkswagen is preparing for a full investigation by an external agency into this mishap too. Questions have also been raised as to similar “Defeat Devices’ being installed by the company in European spec vehicles too. However, the emission norms in EU are more lax than that of US and hence use of such devices may not be needed. However, whether Volkswagen has used such software codes still need to be ascertained. Volkswagen is planning to recall on 5,00,000 cars of its own and Audi models fitted with the 2.0 litre diesel mill to check the software.