Quality Progress - November 2015 - (Page 12)

KEEPINGCURRE AUTOMOTIVE Detected and Defeated T VW's defeat device explained and what it means for the future of emissions testing The auto industry was rocked in September adjusted the engine performance to reduce when German automaker Volkswagen (VW) emissions during tests. These restrictions was caught cheating on emissions tests on were switched off when the car returned to selling and recall the affected vehicles in its clean-diesel vehicles in the United States. normal driving. United States. It faces up to $18 billion in How could the world's largest carmaker The device was revealed when research- Beetles, Golfs and A3s from VW and Audi. As a result, VW was ordered to stop fines. Worldwide, the company said about have evaded detection from regulators and ers at West Virginia University tested 11 million vehicles could be affected. The consumers for so long? VW models in real-world, on-road driving number is especially high in Europe, where conditions by using equipment that fits in consumer use of diesel vehicles is more emissions tests, particularly those in the car trunks rather than running the cars on prevalent. United States and the European Union (EU), dynamometers. The university had been and revealed weaknesses in the current hired by the International Council on Clean Testing protocols questioned systems, prompting changes to testing Transportation to do a standard emissions It's not the first time the auto industry has procedures. tests on diesel cars as part of the organiza- faced the issue of emission test cheating. The debacle shined a spotlight on global Defeat devices date back to the 1970s VW deceives when some vehicle emission systems On Sept. 18, the U.S. Environmental were found to be rigged to automati- Protection Agency (EPA) and Califor- cally turn off when the air conditioning nia Air Resources Board (CARB) an- was turned on. nounced that for seven years VW had For years, critics of testing pro- used a defeat device in the engine cesses in the United States and the EU software of 500,000 diesel-powered have voiced concern that current test- vehicles sold to pass emissions tests ing conditions don't reflect real-world in the United States. driving and allow automakers too Here's how it worked: In the ve- much freedom to influence results. hicles' software, the automaker used U.S. automakers conduct emis- an algorithm that detected when a sions tests on their own and submit car was in test conditions and automatically tion's efforts to provide independent sci- the results to government regulators. The switched the engine to a cleaner mode. ence to government agencies that regulate EPA also does some random checking and Because emissions tests are almost always the environment. enforces the set emissions limits. All of this conducted on a dynamometer-a treadmill- From the university's tests, it was testing is done in the lab-type environment like device in a standardized lab environ- discovered that the cars emitted up to 40 ment-lines of code in VW's software times the permissible U.S. limit of nitrogen In the EU, automakers can choose a could sense when the car was in this test oxide, a pollutant that contributes to smog private testing firm to conduct its tests in environment. and various health problems. any member state. Member states have The software analyzed data, such According to the EPA, the defeat devices that VW's software could detect. jurisdiction to regulate the emissions limits, as steering position, speed, duration of were installed in vehicles with 2.0-liter but enforcement is rare. According to the engine operation, barometric pressure diesel engines during model years 2005 to New York Times, the EU testing firms view and changes in the car's performance, and 2009. This includes diesel Passats, Jettas, automakers as clients, and one agency 12 QP * www.qualityprogress.com http://www.qualityprogress.com

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Quality Progress - November 2015

Up Front
LogOn
Expert Answers
Keeping Current
Mr Pareto Head
Pop Culture
On the Horizon
Shatterproof
To Measure is to Know
Measure for Measure
Innovation Imperative
Quality in the First Person
Career Corner
Statistics Roundtable
QP Toolbox
QP Reviews
One Good Idea
Back to Basics

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