The Cult of Cars, Racing and Everything That Moves You.
We may earn a commission from links on this page

VW's Diesel Cheating Began With Cost-Cutting: Report

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Good Morning! Welcome to The Morning Shift, your roundup of the auto news you crave, all in one place every weekday morning. Here are the important stories you need to know.

1st Gear: And Bosch Warned Them About It

Now that VW has admitted to cheating emissions on 11 million diesel cars worldwide, one of the biggest questions is “why?” Turns out, according to reports from German newspapers, that it began with cost-cutting measures implemented a decade ago. Via Automotive News:

Bild am Sonntag said the roots of the crisis were planted in 2005 when then-VW brand chief Wolfgang Bernhard wanted VW to develop a new diesel engine for the U.S. market. Bernhard recruited Audi engineer Rudolf Krebs who developed a prototype that performed well in tests in South Africa in 2006, the paper said.

Bernhard and Krebs argued that the only way to make the engine meet U.S. emission standards was to employ in the engine system an AdBlue urea solution used on larger diesel models such as the Passat and Touareg, according to the report.

This would have added a cost of 300 euros ($335 in today’s U.S. dollars) per vehicle — a sum that VW finance officials said was too much at a time when a companywide cost-cutting exercise was under way.


The second part of this is that supplier Bosch created the engine management software that allowed TDI engines to enter a “test” mode that cheated emissions, but warned VW back in 2007 that its use on production cars would be illegal:

VW was also warned by one of its own engineers in 2011 about illegal emissions testing practices, a reportin the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s Sunday edition said, citing initial results of a VW internal investigation.

Bild am Sonntag said Bosch supplied diesel software to VW for test purposes but it ended up in vehicles on the road. Bosch wrote to VW saying that such use was unlawful, according to the paper’s report, which did not cite sources.


2nd Gear: Winterkorn Under Investigation

And then there’s the criminal investigations into this mess, which will likely include several countries. VW CEO Martin Winterkorn may have resigned but he’s not out of the woods, according to The New York Times:

German prosecutors said on Monday that they had begun an investigation of Martin Winterkorn, who until last week was the chief executive of Volkswagen, based on complaints from unidentified people that he should be held responsible for a widening scandal linked to diesel-emissions.

The office of the state’s attorney in Braunschweig, a city close to Volkswagen’s base in Wolfsburg, said it had begun the investigation based on complaints filed by people it did not name. In Germany, any citizen can file a criminal complaint against another person, and the authorities are obligated to investigate.

3rd Gear: CO2? C-Oh No

Once again more groups say VW’s emissions cheating is, not surprisingly, the tip of the iceberg. Via Reuters:

New European cars are spewing out on average 40 percent more carbon dioxide than laboratory tests show, an environmental campaign group said on Monday, saying Volkswagen’s rigging of emissions tests was only part of much wider cheating.

[...] The new report from Transport & Environment (T&E), which works closely with the European Commission, said its data did not prove other carmakers were using such devices.

But it said the gap between lab results and road performance had grown for emissions of carbon dioxide, as well as nitrogen oxides, to such an extent that further investigation was needed to discover what carmakers were doing to mask CO2 emissions.


4th Gear: Who’s Overstating Fuel Economy Numbers?

Remember when Hyundai got nailed hard for exaggerating their fuel economy claims? Another European group (they’ve been emboldened by VW lately, it seems) says Mercedes has the biggest gaps between stated numbers and real-world tests. Via Bloomberg:

Mercedes-Benz topped a European lobbying group’s list of carmakers to overstate fuel economy for the second year in a row in an annual study that may receive extra scrutiny amid Volkswagen AG’s diesel-engine test scandal.

Vehicles built by Daimler AG’s Mercedes division used 48 percent more fuel on average than their published statistics claim, with gaps exceeding 50 percent on new A-, C- and E-Class models, Brussels-based Transport & Environment said Monday. BMW’s 5-Series and the Peugeot 308 produced differences between real-world and laboratory results of just under 50 percent. Across the industry, the gap widened to 40 percent last year from 8 percent in 2001, with the difference between published specifications and actual fuel use costing a typical driver an additional 450 euros ($500) yearly at the pump.


5th Gear: BMW May Face Recall Fine

Compared to the emissions scandals, safety recalls feel so quaint, so 2014! But regulators say BMW may be in violation for not recalling Mini Coopers when they should have. From The Detroit News:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is opening an investigation into 30,456 2014-15 Mini Cooper, Cooper S and 2015 John Cooper Works after NHTSA performed side impact crash tests on two 2014 Mini Hardtop 2 Door Coopers more than a year ago.

BMW didn’t recall the vehicle until July — and after months of pressure from NHTSA.

“NHTSA is concerned that BMW was aware or should have been aware of the non-compliance with (side impact standards) and should have taken remedial action on the population of Mini Cooper vehicles identified in (July) earlier than it did. It appears from a review of NHTSA’s databases that BMW may have failed to submit recall communications to NHTSA in a timely manner,” NHTSA said.


Reverse: Guy Sounds Like Kind Of A Dick


Neutral: What’s The Most Egregious Breach Of Automaker Trust?

Lying on emissions? Safety? Overstating fuel economy numbers? Who’s been screwing up the worst lately?


Photo credit AP

Contact the author at