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The Story of Volkswagen Emission Scandal & Crisis

Germany's manufacturing giant Volkswagen is in serious trouble after the outburst of the emission scandal under the leadership of Martin Winterkorn. Martin Winterkorn has stepped down as a result of revelations. The company has halted US sales of its 2015 and 2016 clean diesel vehicles and now has to fix millions of existing cars. It has already set aside $7.3 billion to deal with the problem. Meanwhile, VW's stock price has been plummeting, with the company losing one-third of its market cap in the last week.

Present Scenario:
Volkswagen AG was caught using software to cheat on emissions tests for 11 million of its diesel engine Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi-branded cars sold between 2009 and 2015. Environmental Protection Agency announced that Volkswagen had very flagrantly violated the Clean Air Act. Not only did the EPA order the German firm to fix the affected vehicles — which include diesel TDI versions of the Golf, Jetta, Beetle, and Passat — but the agency could end up levying fines as high as $18 billion. The Department of Justice is also contemplating criminal charges. 

 Since 2009, Volkswagen had been installing elaborate software in 482,000 "clean diesel" vehicles sold in the US, so that the cars' pollution controls only worked when being tested for emissions. The rest of the time, the vehicles could freely spew hazardous, smog-forming compounds.

The carmaker has recalled 482,000 VW and Audi brand cars in the US after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found models with Type EA 189 engines had been fitted with a device designed to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) under testing conditions.

A Guardian analysis found those US vehicles would have spewed between 10,392 and 41,571 tonnes of toxic gas into the air each year, if they had covered the average annual US mileage. If they had complied with EPA standards, they would have emitted just 1,039 tonnes of NOx each year in total. The company admitted the device may have been fitted to 11m of its vehicles worldwide. If that proves correct, VW’s defective vehicles could be responsible for between 237,161 and 948,691 tonnes of NOx emissions each year, 10 to 40 times the pollution standard for new models in the US. Western Europe’s biggest power station, Drax in the UK, emits 39,000 tonnes of NOx each year.

The Real Story Behind the Scandal :

There are two main types of combustion engines widely available today:
 1. Diesel 
 2. Gasoline

Diesel engines have the major advantage of fuel economy. Diesel fuel contains more energy per gallon than gasoline, and the diesel engines work more efficiently. Put it together, and the typical diesel car can travel up to 30 percent farther on a gallon of fuel than its gasoline counterpart. But diesel cars get better mileage and emit fewer carbon-dioxide emissions, they also emit more nitrogen oxides (NOx), which help form smog, and particulate matter, which can damage lungs. Both types of pollution can have serious health effects.

 Europe has dealt with this trade-off by imposing relatively looser emissions standards on diesel cars in the pursuit of better fuel economy. Roughly one-third the passenger cars in Europe now run on diesel, and it's one reason cities like Paris have a serious smog problem. In the United States, by contrast imposed far stricter rules around smog and other conventional pollutants since the 1970s, which is why diesel cars haven't caught on widely here: until recently, few could pass America's stringent NOx standards.

Since 2009, however, things have changed. The Obama administration has been ratcheting up fuel-economy standards in the United States, which puts a higher premium on mileage. At the same time, diesel technology has been gradually getting cleaner through a combination of lower-sulfur fuel, advanced engines, and new emission-control technology. So automakers have shown a renewed interest in "clean diesel" cars that, in theory, don't suffer from that trade-off between performance and pollution. These vehicles have proved increasingly popular in the United States, even if they still represent less than 1 percent of the market. Since 2009, Volkswagen has sold more than 482,000 clean diesel cars containing a four-cylinder turbocharged direct injection engine. This included versions of the Passat, Jetta, Golf, Beetle, and Audi's A3. Volkswagen had been inserting intricate code in its vehicle software that tracked steering and pedal movements. When those movements suggested that the car was being tested for nitrogen-oxide emissions in a lab, the car automatically turned its pollution controls on. The rest of the time, the pollution controls switched off.

Regulators didn't notice this ruse for years. The problem was only uncovered by an independent group, the International Council on Clean Transportation, which wanted to investigate why there was such a discrepancy between laboratory tests and real-road performance for several of VW's diesel cars in Europe. So they worked with researchers at West Virginia University, who stuck a probe up the exhaust pipe of VW's clean diesel cars and drove them from San Diego to Seattle. What the researchers found was shocking. On the road, VW's Jetta was emitting 15 to 35 times as much nitrogen oxide as the allowable limit. The VW Passat was emitting 5 to 20 times as much. These cars were emitting much more pollution than they had in the labs.

Volkswagen wasn't able to produce diesel cars that had the ideal mix of performance, fuel economy, and low pollution. They had manipulated by using the software. 
Again it has been proved that technology not only makes life simpler but also it has the power taking the life.

Sources : www.vox.com

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