The German carmaker has admitted fitting as many as 11 million diesel cars with software that detected when a test was being run and altered the engine performance so it would pass. The company has suspended sales of those vehicles and CEO Martin Winterkorn quit as investigators from Washington to Berlin have promised to punish those responsible.
“This is a warning that the regulators can never afford to let down their guard,” said John DeCicco, a researcher who worked on overhauling EPA test procedures in the 1990s. “They can’t just accept lab results.”
The EPA was under fire two decades ago after real-world tests showed gasoline-powered cars were emitting far more pollution than lab tests suggested they should, DeCicco said.
The agency hired technicians with remote sensing systems to go to places like tunnels, where emissions are concentrated, or freeway entrances, where cars are accelerating. They compared readings with what models suggested pollution levels should be according to automakers’ lab results.
There were huge discrepancies, DeCicco said. Automakers were designing their systems according to a federal test cycle developed in the 1970s. The test was run too slow and with air-conditioning off, which skewed the results.
Read the full story at Automotive News.