# News EPA says Volkswagen installed software to cheat on emissions

1. Sep 19, 2015

### nsaspook

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...n-software-circumvented-car-emissions-testing
http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/cert/documents/vw-nov-caa-09-18-15.pdf

This makes me wonder who else is cheating with ECU/ECM software.

2. Sep 19, 2015

### 256bits

I just heard of this tonight, and it seems such a "bang your head against the wall" story.
It is so unbelievable that some company would deliberately do something such as flaunt the laws to get an edge, and doing so set themselves up for a downfall.
I guess they never ever thought that they would be found out.
So unbelievable for fiction that it could only happen in the real corporate world.

3. Sep 19, 2015

Staff Emeritus

But I am sure they got the technical stuff right.

If the facts as stated are true, VW has another problem. If they recall the cars and reduce power and/or fuel economy, they now face lawsuits from the purchasers of these vehicles.

4. Sep 19, 2015

### Bystander

I've a FoMoCo product that gets tested every two years. It's baffled me no end that it gets a complete colonoscopy, drug-sniffing dog inspection, and undercarriage mirror examination before ever being hooked up to the emissions measurement --- may not be just VW.

5. Sep 19, 2015

### nsaspook

I also find it ironic that the EPA is opposing rules to open up car electronics to legally reverse-engineering the codes for the public.

http://www.wired.com/2015/09/epa-opposes-rules-couldve-exposed-vws-cheating/

6. Sep 22, 2015

### Borg

Every time I think that I've heard the most ridiculous thing that a company could do, something like this comes along.

7. Sep 22, 2015

Staff Emeritus
I can't imagine that this came from the top. I think it's more likely that it came from the rank and file, spread, and by the time it was discovered, they were in too deep. (None of this excuses senior management, as it is their job to make sure this doesn't happen.

VAG is deferring $7.25B in profits to address this issue. Their stock lost$10B yesterday.

8. Sep 22, 2015

### Borg

I agree but I really have to wonder how something like this could happen from a programming standpoint. At some point in the process, an engineer programmed this and it probably took a decent amount of coding. What would be the possible reasons or motivations to do that?
• The engineer did it just for the heck of it without telling anyone. Very doubtful.
• There was an engineering test that was easier to perform when the system was in this mode and it accidently got delivered with the wrong setting. That would be seriously bad quality control.
• An engineer did it to meet an emissions and/or fuel economy deadline. Maybe. Probably a senior engineer if that's the case.
• A middle manager asked for this to meet an emissions and/or fuel economy deadline. My money is on this one.
• The software was built and delivered by a separate company that makes emissions controllers. If it ends up being a chip that every car manufacturer uses...

9. Sep 22, 2015

### nsaspook

I took a quick look the the hardware. It seems to be a Bosch (The EDC17 from Bosch) unit with the TCL1796 controller. http://www.infineon.com/dgdl/tc1796...fileId=db3a304412b407950112b41bc4972cb1&ack=t

Very complex controller hardware that controls a very complex emissions and engine system.
http://www.greencarcongress.com/2015/09/20150921-vw2l.html

The person(s) who did this had an extreme level of expertise at the code level to build something like this without detection from the outside for so long. I find it hard to believe the design code base for the system was only known at the VW engineering level if they did it. VW might just be the tip of a very large iceberg.

10. Sep 23, 2015

### Staff: Mentor

This article says it has been under investigation since 2013 and even involved a recall. Only when 2016 models were denied approval to be sold in the US and CA did VW start to actually admit/address it.
http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2015...blems-not-new-for-university/?intcmp=features

This sounds to me like an issue that has been our in plain view inside VW for some time. Sounds like it goes to a high level.

11. Sep 23, 2015

### Staff: Mentor

Ostensibly, someone knows who is responsible for the code and the testing.

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/volkswagen-shares-slide-again-deepening-scandal-074408955--finance.html [Broken]

Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
12. Sep 23, 2015

### lisab

Staff Emeritus
I'm not sure the buyers can sue - do they have standing? What damage did they suffer?

13. Sep 23, 2015

### dlgoff

14. Sep 23, 2015

### Staff: Mentor

They paid for something they did not receive: a clean burning diesel engine (it is called the "clean diesel"). That's one of VW's major marketing points. A feature that sets them apart from other cars.

Heck, I could even see putative damages for pain and suffering: because of VW, I've been breaking the law and that traumatized me!

15. Sep 23, 2015

### Borg

Once the cars are recalled and 'fixed', it's likely that they will get significantly less gas mileage.

16. Sep 23, 2015

### nsaspook

The more I look into this strictly from at stealth software problem the more I think the cheat was very clever and maybe goes deeper than VW as a knowing user. The easy way to mod the software is to change routines and data at the applications level but that's something you can buy on the street and would be detected quickly. To really do a neat hack that effectually the life blood of the company was riding on requires information hiding deep at the chip/OS level, quite possibly buried in some obscure driver code for a embedded hardware module 'cheat' module. I'm sure it's not called that on the ref ECM sheet but you can get PIC's with the Configurable Logic Cell (CLC) to generate logic states independent of program flow so I pretty sure the chips used in EDC17 combined with CPU special registers and/or implementation-specific Core Debug Registers could generate the same functionality buried as deep as a tick in a hound-dog and could be used to modify data from sensors before the unmodified motor control routines accessed them by a triggered stealth module configuration. This way all validation tests of the software from the programming code to firmware would pass any possible modification checks as it would respond exactly as it should be using real (physical engine data) or bogus (modified 'cleaned' engine) data. The only way to catch it as the root cause would be to duplicate the ECM with your own independent sensor package and to track deviations in behavior over time as I suspect they blended the hacked data with true data slowly to make it less noticeable for a short test run. The WV school hired to investigate seems to have done just that.

17. Sep 23, 2015

### nsaspook

Yes, and there is a easy way to find out who did it.

If that's true then this was not just US specific but was a generic feature of the system design.

Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
18. Sep 23, 2015

Staff Emeritus
And less power. I'm looking at a dyno curve and comparing it to the specs, and it looks like they are down 10% in HP and maybe as much as 20% in torque at the stated RPM.

19. Sep 23, 2015

### Staff: Mentor

I listened to the story about how the software routine/switch was detected. Apparently, the state of Ca was testing 2 VWs and a BMW. The BMW passed, but the VWs didn't. Apparently Ca did a normal dynamometer test and a highway test. On the highway test, the emissions were 5 to 30 times higher than the legal limit, and that lead them to finding that the software was set to detect when the care was being tested. Approximately 11 million cars worldwide are affected, and the US has banned the sales of 2015 and 2016 VW models.

Apparently the testing was sponsored/arranged by International Council on Clean Transportation to show that technology could be put on diesel cars to achieve low emissions. The test was done with West Virginia University (driving test) and California Air Resources Board (lab testing). Apparently California worked with Volkswagen on some emissions issues that VW was supposed to fix, and basically Ca was doing a verification test.

http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2...ons-volkswagen-cheated-on-u-s-emissions-tests

Folks paid a higher price for the diesel VWs based on low emissions and higher gas mileage, so consumers may be entitled to some kind of relief on the cost and lower mileage, if the next 'fix' reduces mileage.

Meanwhile, VW faces criminal charges and various civil lawsuits.

And the CEO Martin Winterkorn has resigned.
https://www.yahoo.com/autos/volkswagens-ceo-quits-in-wake-of-global-pollution-129716044872.html

Last edited: Sep 23, 2015
20. Sep 24, 2015

### Borg

I've been thinking about what's going to happen once VW comes up with a fix and cars get repaired. Many people tend to ignore recalls and some may not want to give up the better horsepower and gas mileage regardless of the environmental cost. Of course they will have to get their cars fixed but how will they prove that they did? The software has been defeating normal inspections for years so something will have to change in the inspection process. So how do you prove that a car has been repaired?
• Will every inspection station be forced to upgrade their emissions testing equipment? Even if it was possible, that would be costly and unlikely.
• You can't expect owners to carry around proof of the repair plus, there's the issue of cars changing hands.
• There will probably have to be some sort of database set up to track repairs by VIN.
Unfortunately, emissions testing is handled at the state level which means that a car that is moved to another state may not be registered properly. VW could stand up a server that inspection stations can access to verify that the car has been repaired but, how do you guarentee that the inspectors actually check it? Each state would have to implement a verification process that the car has been repaired. But, if you have to change the state-level software anyway, you might as well take the inspectors out of the loop as a potential failure point.

Which puts the verification back at the state level. And, since every one of those is different, there will various levels of success to be able to add a verification check to their software. In my state, you can't get your emission inspection until you've paid the state taxes so they could probably add a few lines of code to access a VW database. Would it be that easy for every state to implement? Probably not. Good luck with that VW.