walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

NYT on the history of car maker cheating


While the byline is Danny Hakim and Hiroko Tabuchi, Keith Bradsher, who ably covered the industry for more than a decade (and produced an excellent book on SUVs in the early 2000s) contributed as well.

Apparently, VW has been fined for defeat devices before -- albeit before millenials were born. I remember my father's cynicism about odometers; now I know it was justified. I graduated the year Chrysler got nailed for the execs drive cars then they are sold as new scandal, but while my husband (5 years older) recalls, I did not.

The whole thing is a reminder that if you are going to regulate and be effective, you really, really, really do have to test. _Especially_ as you increase regulations, because inertia will help you somewhat once people are mostly complying, but at the beginning, people find it much easier to cheat than to implement.

I will quote the final two paras in entirety, because I feel like it:

"Dan Becker, director of the safe climate campaign at the Center for Auto Safety, said that in 2011 he was among a group of environmental lawyers and engineers who traveled to Germany to hear automakers make a pitch for diesel cars. He said that while BMW and Daimler had taken the group’s concerns seriously, Volkswagen officials had not.

“They talked down to us,” he said of the company. “They would definitely win an Academy Award for most egregious automaker. And this is one of the companies that tried desperately to get Americans to buy diesel. I think they just sank that ship.”"

But it really isn't just VW. It is hard to pass regulations to make diesel cars equivalent in pollution produced as gasoline cars. But it turns out it is _much much harder_ to actually _make_ diesel cars equivalent in pollution produced as gasoline cars, even than it is to get those regulations through the political process. I don't want any of my comments here to be taken as opposition to biodiesel, which is an entirely different thing from a lifecycle perspective, and will never be The Car Of the Future, simply because there isn't enough biofuel around to make it viable (heck, even at the low current numbers, restaurants have to lock up their used fat because people steal it now). I just don't see diesel recovering from this particular scandal in time to regain its footing vs hybrids and pure electrics, especially not after living with my electric for a year -- and wishing I'd never bought the range extender option.
Tags: politics, transportation
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