Volkswagen emissions scandal spotlights need for an Apple Car

“Two stories broke this week that rocked the automotive industry,” Dan Costa writes for PC Magazine. “First, Volkswagen admitted to systematically cheating on emissions tests, which is a polite way of saying it has been poisoning its customers for years. Then, sources revealed that Apple is going all-in on an electric car that could ship in 2019. The two stories are linked, with one demonstrating everything that is wrong with the automotive industry and the other pointing to a new future. That future most definitely does not run on diesel.”

“According to an EPA investigation, at least four Volkswagen models come with software designed to fool inspectors. The onboard computer on these models contains a sophisticated algorithm that detects when the car is being tested and produces false results. During tests, the emissions look normal,” Costa writes. “Take the car out on the road, however, and it will pump out 40 times the allowed amount of nitrogen oxide, a pollutant that causes asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and generally adds to that gray haze surrounding most American cities at rush hour. Volkswagen marketed these cars as ‘clean diesel.’ Busted by the EPA a few days ago, today Volkswagen admitted its guilt. More than 11 million cars are affected worldwide, and the company is setting aside more than $7.3 billion to fix these vehicles.”

“Reports about an Apple car emerged earlier this year, but have picked up steam in recent weeks after Cupertino reportedly met with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, and The Wall Street Journal tipped the 2019 launch date,” Costa writes. “This summer, meanwhile, the company brought Doug Betts on board, the former head of quality at Fiat Chrysler. And a little research on LinkedIn shows that Apple has been hiring a lot, upwards of 600 automotive experts. You don’t need 600 people to connect your iPhone to your car stereo.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: How the heck did Volkswagen think they’d get away with that ruse?

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45 Comments

    1. I also thought of Samsung’s benchmark cheating immediately.

      The trouble is, regarding gas/diesel consumption and hence CO2 emission, this kind of cheating seems to be normal and accepted everywhere. But with NOX emissions it isn’t? Where’s the big difference?

      1. VW = Germany = >30% not affiliated with any religion and 14% church attendance.
        Samsung = South Korea = >46% not affiliated with any religion and 14% church attendance.

        Is it a coincidence that VW and Samsung have questionable morality? Just wondering.

        1. Morality was around long before religion was invented. There are laws that pre-date any religion. Religion came about 3100 B.C. Before that time there were no religions but there were laws and morals. Religion is however, the bane of Humanity.

          1. Some say that organised religion dawned when healers realised that, as so many sufferers were consoled by their soothing stories, they could organise them into a story line that would attract even more customers and provide them with a nice living. To this day, relgious leaders possess more power over more people than any military dictatorship ever dreamt of. It’s the perfect con, one that tricks people into almost any imaginable act; better than bribery, better than coercion, better than hypnosis. It is nothing less than the crass hijacking of natural instincts for personal gain, the most unconscionable form of kidnapping imaginable.

        2. Veterans Healthcare System = US = What ever percent of bible thumping you think is good = computer system that keeps two sets of books, one saying vets get prompt treatment, to report to Congress how well the VA does it mission, the other that schedules the real appointments.

          Turing Pharmaceuticals = US = Raises price on a 62 year-old drug from $13.50 per dose to $750. Because they can.

          Immorality knows no bounds of religion or nationality.

          Obviously, our expectations are wrong. If the EPA wasn’t so out of control, VW wouldn’t have been forced to cheat and lie. If Americans weren’t such crybabies we would just pay what drug companies want, and die quietly if we couldn’t come up with the money.

          Where are OUR supposed morals when WE need them?

          1. quiviran – The US is getting more and more individuals not affiliated with any religion and not attending church in recent years. We are still above average, but dropping. Also having more people with morals doesn’t prevent scandal and bad doing – it just limits it greatly and makes the problem a few bad players instead being endemic.

            To TheDonald – you need to brush up on the science. The latest research is saying that religion predates civilization. See: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/06/gobekli-tepe/mann-text
            And this is only from 2011! The newest evidence for religion is now found pre 13,000 B.C. I think the new understanding is that religion was the driver for humans forming civilization. It helped us evolve away from constant violence to occasional violence.

            Morals are still very much present in the US, our system allows those without morals to gain positions of influence and power. However in the case of the VA, Pharmaceuticals, etc. The problems were known before the scandal. People with morals voiced their concerns until the press turned it into a scandal. Speaking out does not happen when you have a society with compromised morals.

            In the case of VW or Samsung. No German engineer stepped forward to expose this deception. It was found by Americans. In the case of Samsung, no South Korean stepped forward and revealed that his employer was purposely copying Apple. This to me is indicative of an endemic lack of morality in a society.

    2. OTOH, when I lived in MD a while back, the emissions testing was completely erratic and unreliable. It was basically a means for local mechanics to make extra money for unnecessary repairs–and the local mechanics would tell you this!
      What VW did was completely bogus, but I certainly hope the official testing is more consistent by now.

    1. Oh I don’t know about that, recently Stewart Parnell, ex owner of the now defunct Peanut Corporation of America has been sentenced to 28 years for being involved with a peanut butter spawned outbreak of salmonella blamed for killing nine people and sickening 714.

      So sometimes justice is done, other times one has to wait a bit longer for karma to kick in.

      1. Even Judge Lucy Koh has come around, even if only at the direction of a higher court.

        Sometimes it seems to me that most of our lives have been spent waiting for issues to be resolved, for the guilty to receive their comeuppance, for abusers of power to be slapped down, for the meek to inherit the Earth. Whenever even a slight advance is made to the human spirit, there is an outpouring of jubilation, and a silent retreat of the skittering cockroaches.

  1. If Apple does a car, I hope they develop a new technology. Research shows electric cars are no better for pollution.
    As for VW, good for them. The government sets idiotic regulations with zero basis. They found a way around it. I own two VWs and would buy 2 more if I could just to support their ingenuity. Screw the EPA. It needs to be dismantled.

      1. The only way I could see BOb’s point would be if the ‘research’ he didn’t cite was taking into account the SOURCE energy used by some (if not most) electric cars.

        IOW: If a coal burning plant is the source of the electricity used in the car: NO GAIN. In fact there could be an added energy loss due to electricity transmission from the coal plant.

        I don’t understand why people only think of ‘the electric car’ or ‘the hydrogen fuel cell’ and ignore where the source energy comes from. It’s not that hard to understand.

        1. I like to think my electric car would be powered by solar energy. Too many variables – solar, wind, nuclear, coal – to say the cost to the environment is the same, better or worse with electric. It’s the carbon footprint one-two punch.

          1. I entirely see your point. But it’s not reaching the actual goal of electric cars, that being the use of renewable, non-polluting resources. I will always strive for that goal, rather than shoving the pollution off to somewhere else. That is entirely pointless IMHO. With some people I think shoving the auto exhaust pile down their throat or shoving their head down a coal plant chimney is the only way to make them get the clue.

      2. I think he’s referring to the production source of the electricity, which can be a point in areas using coal for generating electricity, for example. However, it’s certainly not true if a cleaner electricity source is available.

      3. People do not understand that 90% of vehicle emissions were reduced by the first set of emissions standards and emissions standards in the late 1960’s, while the majority of the costs to the drivers have come from the standards enacted after that time. Doesn’t pass cost-benefit analysis.

  2. My family has VW and Audi cars. We are not amused. My nephew is all about TDI. This is a disaster. Granted they did a very “Samsung” thing, VW is not a copy-cat, like Samsung. Frankly I don’t understand what happened and how cheating became the solution. They lost their way.

      1. I’m sure there’s some hidden cost from breathing in more polluted air impacting health costs, or the pollution itself contributing to heating the atmosphere affecting climate, or the soot coating stuff and what that means on quality of life. Saving a bit of money on fuel costs is not free.

      2. No, that they cheated and didn’t do it right the first time. Go ahead and blame the government, but in this case, you are dead wrong. Without SMOG regulations LA, as an example would be like Beijing. The air quality has improved significantly because of government regulation.

    1. I was thinking the same thing. Being honest in this case and earning their emissions stripes would be a lot cheaper in the long run. The deeper problem is fixing the permanent damage they do to their brand as a result. Money won’t fix that.

        1. I wouldn’t call that an opposing equation. It’s just more of the same abuse of both capitalism and democracy, but you’ve kindly provided an elaboration upon the simple statement I made previously.

          What I don’t understand is why you threw > public interest at the end. I suspect that translates to something like: ‘FSCK public interest’. I have to catch up on some of the new/obscure emoticons.

  3. “Take the car out on the road, however, and it will pump out 40 times the allowed amount of nitrogen oxide, a pollutant that causes asthma, bronchitis, emphysema, and generally adds to that gray haze surrounding most American cities at rush hour” This is part of what I don’t understand about the climate change “debate”, whether or not we are changing the climate as a result of what we’re pumping out, emissions do us noticeable damage, and at a minimum it just doesn’t look nice to have cities covered in smog and dirt from pollution. We should want to switch to other energy sources just for those reasons.

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