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VW finally unveils fix for dodgy diesels

Mechanical and software fix for corrupted Volkswagen EA189 engines announced

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Volkswagen logo26 Nov 2015

By TIM ROBSON

VOLKSWAGEN has revealed how it intends to fix millions of 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesels equipped with emissions test-avoiding software that has raised the ire of environmental groups and customers around the world and stripped billions of dollars from the company’s value.

And in Australia, a Federal Court judge reportedly has demanded that Volkswagen Group Australia reveal what it will admit or deny by December 17, in relation to compensation for impacted owners who have joined a class action against the local VW arm, according to lawyers involved in the case.

Volkswagen’s remedy for its 1.6-litre diesel involves a small plastic mesh filter, called a flow transformer, to be inserted in the air intake of affected cars. Volkswagen claims that in conjunction with a software update, emissions from the tailpipe will be reduced.

The flow transformer will be inserted just ahead of what is known as the mass air flow (MAF) sensor that monitors the amount, temperature and density of the air flowing into the engine.

The MAF sensor then communicates with the car’s engine control unit (ECU) to determine how much fuel to add to the air for the given demand.

“This component stabilises the air flow and allows a more precise measure of the incoming fresh air flow,” said Volkswagen head of diesel development of derivatives and fuel injection systems Andreas Krause. “As a result, the fuel can be metered more precisely, and we improve emissions.” Volkswagen claims that 2.0-litre diesel cars need only a software update. Both jobs can be done in less than an hour.

No hard data was offered by the company to support the claims that the fix will reduce emissions to advertised levels – in some cases documented in the United States, VW vehicles have recorded nitrous oxide emissions results 25 per cent above VW’s claimed figures.

“The objective for the development of the technical measures is still to achieve the applicable emission targets in each case without any adverse effects on the engine output, fuel consumption and performance,” the company said in a statement. “However, as all model variants first have to be measured, the achievement of these targets cannot yet be finally confirmed.” VW Group brands Audi, Skoda, Seat and Volkswagen Commercial are planning “corresponding measures”, according to the company.

It is yet to offer the European-based Federal Motor Transport Authority a fix for the 1.2-litre three-cylinder diesel engine caught up in the scandal.

The fix only applies to European cars at this stage, and comes just one day after the car-maker lodged a proposal with the Californian Air Resources Board (CARB), outlining how it intends to reverse the defeat device software on its 2.0-litre diesel engines.

Meanwhile, a law firm representing VW owners, Bannister Law, said in a media release today that Federal Court Justice Lindsay Foster today asked Volkswagen Group Australia to tell him “before Christmas” what Volkswagen would admit or deny, in relation to compensation for consumers over the defeat devices fitted to almost 100,000 vehicles.

The court was addressing the first of at least two class actions initiated by local law firms seeking compensation for owners of affected cars. This morning’s meeting – known as a case conference – involved the first firm to launch a class action, Bannister Law, while Maurice Blackburn and Associates is also meeting with the Federal Court this week on behalf of a claimed 10,000 respondents.

“We need to quickly get to the substance of the issue,” said Justice Foster.

VW Australia told the court this morning it has no knowledge of what its head office in Germany will admit or deny.

Justice Foster has given VW Australia until December 17 to clarify its position.

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