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Pollution Solution

 by james on 12 Nov 2015 |
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Pollution Solution
VW have been caught cheating at pollution tests.  But why is anybody surprised?  As you will have seen in the news, VW have been caught “gaming” pollution tests on diesel vehicles.  Call me a cynic, but the real news is not that this happened, but that we are all surprised that this happened.  When a measure is devised to manage a behaviour, the monitored party will optimise the measure.  This may not lead to the desired outcome.  In this case, what VW did was to incorporate routines in the engine management software that recognised when emissions testing was (likely to be) taking place, and alter the engine map accordingly.  (The engine map is the set of instructions that control how much fuel and air is supplied to the engine under changing circumstances.)  As result, official test results were very different from owners’ real world experience.
And so it turns out that VW’s diesels are not as fuel efficient as claimed.  And why should we be surprised?  These are after all, laboratory tests, which will never be a match for real world testing.  And unsurprisingly, it was a journalist’s investigation into the discrepancy between official test results and economy testing on the road that eventually led to the unravelling of the VW test gaming.
Apart from VW’s corporate naughtiness, there are two issues here:
The first is that motor cars are inherently ecologically unsound devices.  Cars have a great many things going for them: convenience, comfort, ease of ownership, even fun (if you buy the right one).  But buying a car for its ecological credentials is like using mascara to cure a broken leg.  If preserving the environment is of major importance, there are better alternatives.  Walking, cycling and public transport are all way better for the environment than a privately owned car.
And the second is that cars powered by an internal combustion engine are outstripped by cars powered by electric motors.  They are outstripped on the ecological front, because there are economies of scale to electricity production.  Manufacturers such as Tesla are also showing that an electric vehicle does not have to be the automotive equivalent of a hair shirt and lentil sandals; electrically powered vehicles can be stylish, comfortable and yes, even fun.  Don’t believe me?  Google ‘Tesla insane mode’.
In the medium term, we can expect to see more electrically powered vehicles on the roads.  And sooner, rather than later, they will have a basic layout that is different to the cars we are accustomed to seeing.  Much as the first cars were ‘horseless carriages’ in layout as well as functionality, the next generation of electrically powered cars will lose the form elements dictated by the architecture to support the internal combustion engine.
Don’t take any of this as me being “anti car” – nothing could be further from the truth.  But sooner or later the internal combustion engine will be replaced.  It is being squeezed by growing concern for our impact on the planet on one hand and the absolute fact that fossil fuels are a finite resource on the other.  Last year I visited Auto Mechanica, the world’s largest automotive industry trade fair, and was blown away by the work being done on electrically powered vehicles.
Since VW have been caught, Porsche and Audi have also been pulled into the mud.  That’s even less surprising as Audi and VW share technology with VW.  My prediction is that other manufacturers will be discovered to have been just as erm, creative as VW have been.  


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All pictures and references to the brands and logos are for reference only, and do not imply any association with the brandholders. Most parts offered are OEM or quality aftermarket parts.  Genuine Porsche or MINI parts are specifically identified as such.  Master Parts  is not responsible for any typographical errors contained within the site.   Information within this website is for reference only.   It is your responsibility to verify that you are technically competent to carry out repair and maintenance procedures.  By entering this site, you agree to hold Master Parts free from any liability arising out of the use of any information contained within.
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