Earlier this year, investigators discovered that German car manufacturer Volkswagen had fitted defeat devices to millions of their cars, artificially reducing their emissions during pollution tests.
If this is the first you’re hearing about defeat devices, let me catch you up. All diesel engines output NOx gases as a byproduct. NOx is a pretty nasty gas so you obviously want as little of it coming out your exhaust as possible. During official testing for exhaust gases, Volkswagen’s cars had a sneaky bit of kit called a defeat device which kicked into action and reduced the volume of polluting gases. Once the test had stopped, the defeat device cut off and the engine went back to normal.
We actually wrote a blog about it back in October. So if you’d like to know more, you can read it here.
Since the story broke, Volkswagen engineers have been searching for a cost-effective solution to fix the 11 million affected cars across the world. Thankfully, it looks like they’ve finally found one. So what does it take to get a Volkswagen car ready for the road again? One flow transformer, one software update and 30 minutes of dealer time.
The flow transformer, a small plastic device, is estimated to cost little more than a quid and I bet they wish they had just included it as standard a few years ago!
One of the first victims of Dieselgate was chief executive Martin Winterkorn who resigned from his position as Volkswagen stock prices went into freefall in the days after the story broke.
Additionally, Volkswagen have announced it is to freeze managerial promotions during 2016, postpone the new Volkswagen Design Centre and delay the all electric Phaeton in a bid to cut immediate costs. It’s probably not going to put a dent in the final bill for the scandal but is seen by many as a symbolic gesture of contrition.
Does the public care?
It’s not several months after the peak of automotive furore and it looks like business is returning to usual for Volkswagen. While shares are still down massively (~25 percent) on their pre-Dieselgate days, some analysts are predicting a bounceback for the German giant.
Analysts at Berenberg, an international investment banking company, are predicting that Volkswagen shares could more than double within the next three years. An impressive future for any business.
That’s not to say that Volkswagen’s troubles are over just yet though. Industry commentators have put a final estimated price tag of the Dieselgate saga at around the €30bn – or the cost of 1 million top of the range VW Golfs. A hefty blow to the wallet for even the richest of companies.
What should Volkswagen owners do?
First things first, check if your car is affected. Volkswagen have produced a tool which allows you to pop in your VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and see whether your car was fitted with a defeat device.
Dealerships should also be contacting owners of affected vehicles to notify them of any recalls.