"WE GOT 'EM!"
VW engineer pleads guilty to emissions conspiracy
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Sun, Sep 11, 2016
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Doug Stokes “... Finally, we have the man responsible for the Volkswagen diesel debacle” As the hierarchy at Volkswagen Aetiengesellschaft and Volkswagen of America, Inc. have been bleating for months: the “rogue engineer” responsible for this long nightmare (for them, their dealers, customers, and employees) has been apprehended, accused, indicted, and has pled guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to defraud the government (through wire fraud) and, in doing so, violating the clean air act. Interestingly enough, he is a Californian from nearby Thousand Oaks who drives a silver four-door Volkswagen. (There was no report if it was a TDI or gasoline-powered model.) As the story goes, way back a few years ago, when he and some unnamed (and presently un-indicted) engineer-buddies at VW (this was first in Wolfsburg and later closer to home in Oxnard) discovered that VW’s new “Clean Diesel” series of engines (that THEY had designed) were so dirty and (apparently) so poorly-engineered that the best and “cleanest” that the powerplants could do on their own was put out 40 times the level of pollutants that were deemed safe (maybe “acceptable” is a better word here) by air quality regulators. As it happens engines finally turn out to technically unfixable (and, by that time they had a whole big old bunch of them in the pipeline), so this one guy and his cohorts, apparently on their own (and conveniently unbeknownst to the generals at VW HQ), designed a Klingon-style cloaking device bit of computer code and then (all on their ... own mind you) buried it deep in the bowels of the car’s brain, where it quietly slept only to come to life when the car was tested for emissions, where it then would “adjust” the characteristics of the engine’s operation to allow the motor to easily ace the standard tailpipe tests. They called it “defeat” software which suspicilously ryhmes with “cheat”. So this is the guy, this is THE guy who betrayed and besmirched the rest of the automotive industry’s best efforts to produce clean and efficient diesel-powered automobiles. He’s the guy that brought shame and recrimination to the hundreds of thousands of serious car buyers who paid extra for “CLEAN DIESEL” because they liked the driving range, or the torque, or the idea that they were doing something right for the environment when that last feature went all to hell in a handbasket. He’s the guy ... they got him and (as noted above) they put him on trial in Detroit (how fitting). There was a 25-page indictment, and some vague mention of “co-conspirators” along with the possibly of this California dude doing five years of hard time in federal custody and being hit with quarter or million dollar fine for his ultra-nefarious ways. I guess that we all can breathe a bit more easily now (just don’t stand behind a TDI-equipped VW when you do). Volkswagen is looking a billions in buy-backs and additional billions heading for use to upgrade and defend environmental causes etc. From here, and I’m neither an engineer nor a sooth-sayer, but it looks to me like there is no viable mechanical fix for these engines, and that’s the saddest part of what’s become a long, sad story of deceit and defeat. No one can really be sure about how long this stink (pardon the air-pollution pun) will stay on Volkswagen. Hell, this horrendous debacle aside, they produce some very well-designed automobiles. But, for many, the company's climb back to a favorable rating might even be a generational thing. For me, the damage done to other manufacturers who did the right thing and who have seen all the work that has already gone into TRUE clean diesel power go down the drain of public opinion, is the part of the story that just won’t heal up anytime soon. –DS SEMI-HUMOROUS ENDPIECE: Rumors have already stared to circulate that a TV mini-series is in the works detailing this one-man crime spree that will end up seeing Volkswagen paying out many billions of dollars in (and I’m now going to finally use the word that I’ve been avoiding the use of since this story broke months ago, here goes ...) reparations for this diesel deception. Oh, yeah, the working title of the show is said to be: “Halt and Spew Nitrogen Oxide” but that was not confirmed at press time. Got something to say? Add your Facebook comment regarding this article here.