VW Scandal – what’s all the fuss about?

You can’t help have noticed that our favourite brand’s in a spot of bother right now. But what’s at the root of all those news stories concerning VW? Here’s an idiot’s guide to what’s been going on…

Dubbed as the ‘diesel dupe’, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), some diesel VWs sold in the US had gadgets fitted to detect when they were being tested, which then instructed various engine parameters to change to temporarily reduce emissions. The EPA’s findings covered 482,000 cars in the US only, including the Jetta, Beetle, Golf and Passat as well as the Audi A3. Since the accusation, however, VW has since admitted that roughly 11 million cars worldwide are fitted with the ‘defeat’ device.


Whatever you feel about this, you have to admit it sounds like a clever bit of kit. Precise details are sketchy but the EPA said that software installed in the cars recognise test scenarios by monitoring engine speed, air pressure and even things like the position of the steering wheel, tipping the car off that it’s likely to be sitting on a static rig being given the once over by someone in a white lab coat carrying a clipboard.


Once given the wink, the device puts the vehicle into something like ‘limp home’ mode, making the engine run below normal power and performance in order to slash emissions. The upshot is that if they hadn’t had the gizmo installed, the harmful nitrogen oxide pollutants would have been 40 times above the legally permitted levels in the US. No wonder then, having been caught with their trousers around their ankles, VW America boss Michael Horn admitted that “We’ve totally screwed up,” before recalling almost 500,000 cars in the US.


While confined to the US at present, it seems cars exported to other countries will also come under the spotlight, with the legitimacy of VW’s emissions testing likely to be brought into question right across Europe. Undoubtedly the shock waves felt throughout the entire motor industry has been immense and the repercussions are likely to be numerous and substantial. One thing’s for certain, though – it’s added weight to the growing argument that diesel cars aren’t as kind to the planet as was once thought. Based on the latest scientific evidence, there are even moves to limit the use of diesel cars in city centres. With Volkswagen top brass emphatically stating that the future lies in electric vehicles at Frankfurt recently, it’s almost as if they saw the whole sorry affair coming.


Of course the press has had a field day over the VW debacle. There’s even been talk on Radio 2 about people taking their cars back for a refund and secondhand VW values plummeting. We’re not sure about that – but what do you think should happen? Has it rocked your VW world or is the love affair unaffected? If you’ve just bought a new diesel VW, how does the whole thing make you feel? We’d love to hear your views…

In the meantime, as events continue to unfold we’ll keep you posted…


The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of VW Heritage.

5 responses to: VW Scandal – what’s all the fuss about?

  1. Yes VW have been caught out, and yes a clever bit of technology. But, are VW the only manufacturers doing this? I think not. If they do carry out checks and inspections and tests on other manufacureres as mentioned on TV I believe a very large can of worms is about to be opened. It’s just unfortunate that VW were the first to get caught.

  2. Yet another ‘last straw’ for modern VWs. Swithering between the Type 1 and the ’91 Golf … maybe it has to be both. No interest at all in anything later than Mk II Golf. Just advertised the Passat. Anyone? It’s a good one …. if you can afford the frequent parking brake caliper replacements.

  3. I love my T2 and generally Audi VW vehicles.

    But having bought a 1 year old 150bhp A4 last month for work I’m utterly gutted by this news.

    I was already concerned that I am getting a far lower MPG than my previous 5-year old 2lit 3 series BMW. Now it’s likely that the car’s value is going to plummet, it doesn’t matter if this model is affected or not, perception is everything.

    This was a massive loan and investment for me and I’m gutted!

    Shame on everyone in the VW senior management, you have collectively failed your clients and you don’t deserve to be forgiven!

  4. I think that Richard Lewis has hit the nail squarely on the head. I don’ t think that VW diesel engines could be that far ahead of the competition so it would not be a surprise to find out that other manufacturers are doing it as well.

    I read an article sometime ago outlining how the emissions test could be circumvented by exactly this method but the author concluded that there was no evidence that any manufacturer had actually done it.

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