In the Year of our Lord 2018, we are what must be 8,000 years from the original start of Dieselgate. A bunch of Volkswagen executives got arrested, everyone agreed to finally make some electric cars, done. Right? Wrong. You thought it was getting better, but instead it’s just getting dumber.
The latest idiocy comes to us from the Financial Times:
The European Commission has found evidence that carmakers are already manipulating emissions for new standards that come into force in 2020, this time using “tricks” to make test results look worse than they are.
When Volkswagen was caught employing illegal “defeat devices” in 2015, the point of its software was to make emissions as low as possible to pass the relevant tests. In this case the data indicate carmakers are employing a new tactic — more like “self defeat devices” — to do poorly on the tests.
Brussels cites “a clear risk” that carmakers are creating an “artificial increase” in emissions values for 2020, a transition year when a new baseline will be set for emissions against which future cuts will be measured.
The German engineers reading this very blog right now will most certainly be spitting out their spaetzle. “VAT?!” they scream. “BUT ZIS NEW CHEAT IS ALSO EVEN MORE JEENYIS THAN ZE LAST VUN!”
(German accents are the only accents still okay to make fun of by the way. That and the French.)
And yes, if you’re a cretinous engineer, maybe you do think it’s “jeenyis.” After all, the emissions levels for the next couple of years are going to be set according to a baseline 2020 level. And if you make the baseline 2020 level absurdly high, then you can game the whole system. It’s a bit like entering a pushup competition by claiming you can only do one, then entering the pushup competition for one-pushup-people, and then just acting like a champ when you bust out 10 pushups. It is exactly like this example.
The FT said that it couldn’t figure out which automakers were engaged in the last round of cheating, but it was more than one company engaging in the shenanigans. The shenanigans are sussed out in pretty easy ways, too, if regulators are looking closely:
Detailed test data from two vehicles found what appeared to be deliberate distortion: “Tests were carried out starting with a depleted battery, so that additional fuel was consumed to charge the battery during the test,” the JRC wrote.
The stop-start function — a system to shut down the engine when idle to cut emissions — was disabled. The JRC also found “gear-shifting strategies” in which cars were driven in gears that would cause a “significant” rise in CO2 emissions.
And that’s the thing—regulators are looking closely. Especially because of Dieselgate. From now on emissions are going to be tested from here to high heaven, and automakers are just going to have to accept it.
It’s not like emissions regulations are that tough, anyways. We know they aren’t because regulators set test standards in this very manner. They see what you can easily do already, and push the bar ever-so-slightly higher. These things are already designed to be easy to pass. Car companies are just greedy as hell.
Stop it. It’s dumb.