Volkswagen Emission Test Scheme Probably Not Industry's Only Case
NEWS ANALYSIS: VW gets caught trying to pull a fast one by creating software that can detect testing and adjust engine performance in response, a move that is already costing the auto maker dearly.By now you certainly know that Volkswagen, AG of Germany has been caught fudging emissions test results for its cars with diesel engines. Engineers with the California Air Resources Board found during compliance testing that while VW cars with diesel engines passed the standard emissions tests, they failed when subjected to real-world driving tests. What actually happened, according to the California Air Resources Board (CARB), is that VW's emissions computer failed to spray enough of a substance called diesel emissions fluid (DEF) into the exhaust stream to neutralize the oxides of nitrogen that are produced in all diesel engines. The DEF, which is a mixture of the organic chemical urea and water, reacts in the catalytic converter to produce nitrogen and water, both of which are harmless and hugely abundant in the atmosphere. DEF is used in a wide variety of diesel car and truck engines, and it's widely available and relatively cheap. However, Volkswagen, along with fellow German car makers Mercedes Benz and BMW, uses a proprietary version of DEF called AdBlue, which is somewhat more expensive.
The amount of AdBlue used by a car in normal use depends greatly on the type of car, the type of diesel engine and how the car is driven. On a Volkswagen, the usage appears to be about five gallons every 10,000 miles. A parts department representative in a Washington, D.C., area Volkswagen dealership told me that the price of a 2.5-gallon bottle is $10.70.