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Who should we blame in the Volkswagen scandal?

By now, everyone knows about the Volkswagen scandal. VW have admitted installing software that cuts exhaust emissions when their cars are being tested and lets them spew death and disease every which way when they’re not.

So who is the villain here? To my mind there are two possible suspects: the US Environmental Protection Agency and the European Union. I know what you are thinking: why can’t we pin the blame on both of them? Well, cheer up because I think we can.

To my mind pollution is simple. The polluter pays the victim. I would like to find some non-state means for doing this and as I understand it in the days prior to environmentalism just such a mechanism – albeit involving courts – did indeed exist.

Of course, since then government has queered the pitch for everyone introducing two principles which it rolls out according to taste. One, that the polluter pays the government. Two, that the polluter becomes subject to government violence – or to put it in statist terms: pollution is regulated.

So, the government imposes regulations in which if you score below a certain number you are left alone and if you score above they send the boys round. Black mark against the EPA.

But meanwhile the EU has been promoting diesels like crazy over recent years. Whether this is a sinister French plot or the result of the global warming hoax, who knows. The really sad thing is that we have ended up with that abomination: the diesel-powered sports car. Oh yeah, and London’s air ain’t too great either.

Some diesel

Some diesel

Miscellaneous thoughts and questions

Why is that we are quite happy to use the term NOx but not the term COx? It makes no sense.

What were VW doing selling diesel cars in the US? Petrol (US = gasoline) is much cheaper there. So the market for diesel cars is much smaller. Come to think of it it’s probably because they were trying to make inroads into the market in the expectation that diesel taxes would come down making diesels more attractive. It is a tax issue isn’t it?

Why is it that cars are regulated in this way? I find it difficult to believe that a lorry or bus is in any way cleaner than a car. But I bet the latter two are not nearly as stringently regulated. To ask the question is, of course, to answer it. They do it because they can.

Did anyone else catch that excellent Mark Evans documentary about the diesel engine on BBC4 the other night? Comet swirl chambers, eh?

60 comments to Who should we blame in the Volkswagen scandal?

  • GM’s Cobalt killed more people than these bogus emissions shenanigans did, or Toyota’s alleged “sudden accelerations”. Yet GM got the smallest fine, likely because of its government connections.

  • bob sykes

    We do use SOx, both as a shorthand for sulfur dioxide and Sarbanes Oxley. In baseball we need to distinguish ChiSox from BoSox, but locally they are both just Sox.

  • If I remember correctly, in 2009 or thereabouts the US lefties came out in favor of diesel.

    I guess they wanted to appear ‘European’

  • Schrodinger's Dog


    A few observations of my own.

    To begin with, my sympathies in this case lie with VW. Like the other car manufacturers, they are trying to comply with absurdly strict anti-pollution laws. (And I’d wager that the other car companies have used the same defeat software, but just haven’t been found out yet. The design and construction of cars is, after all, engineering, where similar problems demand similar solutions.) Much has been made of the fact that, with the defeat software turned off, levels of NOx emitted rise 40-fold. But 40 times what? If maximum allowed is 1 molecule and the cars in question are each emitting 40 molecules, so what? Obviously, I’m exaggerating, but I’m trying to make a point. In low enough doses, just about everything ceases to be toxic.

    And the drivers of petrol-engined cars have to reason to feel smug or complacent. As an enthusiast driver, I’ve never been a fan of oil burners and have never even though about owing one. But make no mistake: the environmentalists see this as a truly heaven-sent (or should that be Gaia-sent?) opportunity. If they can’t get an outright ban of diesels, they’ll push for anti-pollution rules which are intended to be impossible for them to comply with. And once they’ve banned diesels, they’ll come after the petrol (gasoline) engines. After all, their ultimate aim is a ban on all motor vehicles.

    Traditionally the English Common Law has granted individuals the power to stop the harmful activities of others and seek redress for any damage suffered. So, for example, if I’m burning old car tyres in my back yard and filling my neighbour’s house with black, oily smoke, he can use the Common Law to force me to stop and compensate him for any harm he has suffered. All nice and neat, with no onerous anti-pollution legislation required. While it might have worked one time, I doubt it would do so today, given the litigious nature of our society and the fanaticism of some people. Were my neighbour one of the more extreme environmentalists, never mind me burning car tyres, he’d quite likely use the law to stop me from doing just about anything, including, quite possibly, breathing in his direction.

    Finally London’s air isn’t that bad, despite what some people claim. Air pollution in London peaked sometime in the 1920s and has been declining ever since; by some estimates, is now lower than at any time during the last five centuries. (Note, statists, that the decline started long before the first Clean Air Act was passed in 1956.)

  • CayleyGraph

    I think I’ve heard people pronounce “NOx” as “knocks”, as if it were a word. As for why we don’t say “COx”…

  • rxc

    The first time a US car mfg sold a diesel, it was GM, back in the late 70s(I think), and it was a disaster. Diesels are inherently more efficient than gasoline engines, and this was the basis for selling them. Unfortunately, GM decided to do this on the cheap. The engines were slightly tweaked gasoline engines and had all sorts of reliability problems and belched smoke.

    The American public did not forget this. The California Air Resources Board did not forget it either, and they have been against diesel cars ever since the 70s. They refused to accept any diesel cars for sale in CA, and if you can’t sell a car in CA, it doesn’t make any sense to try to sell it elsewhere. The trucks do not have to meet the same standards as cars, and if you look at the calculations, and believe them, it would be bad for air polution if a lot of cars were allowed to push out the same level of pollution as trucks. The trucks are now being regulated more closely, as well, and they have a LOT more room to install pollution controls. I am not looking forward to the time when they start to regulate boat diesel engines…

    VW has been trying to make americans forget the GM past, but they have just made it worse. Mercedes Benz has been selling diesels here, but you have to periodically add urea to a reservoir for emission control purposes, so they are not so popular for the sort of people who usually buy Mercedes here in the US. I read somewhere that GM engineers who were working on diesel engines did not understand how VW was able to pass the emissions tests without the urea – now they know.

    Too bad. I used to own a diesel Peugeot in France, and it was wonderful. Great fuel economy, plenty of pep, and just right for my purposes. Now we will have to go 50 years before anyone will let them be sold

  • Sam Duncan

    “we have ended up with that abomination: the diesel-powered sports car”

    To be fair, some of them ain’t bad. (All three, you’ll note, built by part of the VW Group. They really went all-in on this.)

    I could never understand why diesel was being promoted at the same time everyone was panicking about leaded petrol.

  • Mr Ed

    I own a Diesel Volkswagen. I took it to my local main dealer for an ECU check, and the report came back that it did have the ‘cheat’ software and was making unlawful emissions, but it said that it was only obeying orders.

  • elbo aaltins

    Do not also forget that the air and most bodies of water are considered “commons”, and therefore not subject to individual claims of loss.

    I remember a U.S. libertarian publication from back in the 70’s-80’s that mentioned some lawsuits over air pollution in the early days of the industrial revolution, that supposed set the stage for declaring the atmosphere a public commons in the U.S. which allowed unrestrained emission of pollutants into the air, with no recourse for those downwind.

    I really wish I could find those again, and find out how true the references were.

  • Deep Lurker

    We use the term NOx but not COx because NO and NO2 are of approximately equal nastiness, while CO and CO2 aren’t. CO is nasty while CO2 is something that no one cared about until recently.

    Diesel cars are sold in the US because the price of diesel fuel varies relative to gasoline, sometimes being more expensive and sometimes less. Some people here are willing to bet that diesel fuel will be less expensive on average (especially with the diesel’s mileage advantage).

    And another reason why buses and trucks are less regulated than cars is that so many of the regulators are the type who see private cars as a vice. Cars provide freedom and independence, and they can’t stand it. They would much rather have people take buses and other “public transportation.” In fact, they could easily apply strict emission regulations to buses, because so many buses are government owned. But they don’t want to; they like buses (at least for us peasants) and hate cars.

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    I’m interested in whether what vw did was actually illegal. The law states that the cars must pass the tests. Vw did with flying colours. The law does not state (at least if America is anything like the UK in this regard) that the car must perform exactly as tested until it is next tested. Otherwise MOT failure would be a criminal offence since clearly the car was not road worthy when driven into the garage. At the moment of testing the cars were “legal”. Vw “taught to the test” which seems to me an admirable response to regulatory bullshit. Instead of mea culpa-ing, I’d have liked to have seen them fight this.

    The law is clearly nothing to do with loving mother earth. America is the land of the huge Cummins pickup “rolling coal”, but then pickups are exempt from this law. It is nothing more than barely disguised protectionism.

  • Mr Ed

    JV, an offence akin to the English Common Law offence of conspiracy to defraud would appear to be engaged here, as there would be an implicit representation to the tester that the test of the vehicle will represent how the vehicle works and that the emissions test would be able to detect the vehicle as it works. I am not certain as to the common law in the United States or the several States (bar Louisiana), but I imagine that similar principles would apply, and there may well be RICO statues engaged and specific provisions in Federal or State law. Let those involved face 1 year’s jail in 49 States consecutively and then 1 year in a Federal prison and for most it is life over.

    Then there is the false representation as to emissions in respect of the contract to purchase, which is also fraudulent, and a conspiracy.

    It is not protectionism, it was perfectly possible for Volkswagen to have made a vehicle without a ‘cheat’ device and get it to pass tests, but the costs may well have been higher and the resultant fuel economy in ‘clean’ mode unattractive. Frankly, if everyone involved in this gets 40 years in a Federal prison, they would have had it coming to them. If you sell goods to Sauron, you do so on his terms, a fact of life.

  • Fred Z

    Mr. Ed, it was poorly programmed. Must be an older model.

    Mine says “I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing!”

  • Rob Fisher

    I thought the x in NOx could stand for either a 1 or a 2.

  • Rob Fisher

    By the way I’m with Schrodinger’s Dog. I guarantee every other car maker is doing the same thing because it’s otherwise impossible to meet the regulations. It might be a US specific problem, though, and is anyone else selling diesel cars in the US?

  • Runcie Balspune

    At the moment of testing the cars were “legal”. Vw “taught to the test” which seems to me an admirable response to regulatory bullshit.

    When I purchased a diesel, it did not have a spare tyre (just the sealing gel and pump kit), the salesman told me that the spare tyre would put extra weight on the car and move it into the next emissions band. There was nothing to stop me buying a spare tyre afterwards, the emissions band would remain the same. In fact, any additional weight on the car is going to increase emissions per distance travelled, including a driver, passengers, fuel, luggage, etc. I’d bet an emissions test is done assuming unladen (not even a driver) and calculated to distance, so in a sense this is doing the same thing VW did, by artificially creating the “best” conditions which are unrelated to real world driving, which in turn is a failure of the emissions control standard rather than the manufacturer.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Some people here are willing to bet that diesel fuel will be less expensive on average (especially with the diesel’s mileage advantage).

    Count me in, most diesels are about 20% better mpg against an equivalent petrol (the diesel engine would be slightly bigger and technology has more or less eliminated the acceleration lag), as long as I’ve owned diesel cars the price has never been that different, in fact, recently, diesel has been the same price or even lower.

  • Phil B

    The “problem” lies with the way the bureaucrats write the requirements.

    I can’t recall the exact revolution steps but (relying on memory for the sake of the discussion) if the requirements are written that at 1000 rpm, 1500 rpm, 2500 rpm, the vehicle must produce no more than an arbitrarily selected amount of pollution, then it is trivially easy to map the engine control unit (ECU) to lean off the mixture at those RPM’s. At any other RPM, the vehicle can smoke lie a WW2 Destroyer laying down a smokescreen in battle and the bureaucrats are satisfied as the pollution levels are within limits at the selected RPM’s.

    Why do you think that, when driving a car that is certified as passing the test, you get flat spots at certain RPM’s? The ECU is delivering less fuel at that RPM and less fuel burned = less power …

    It is again trivially easy to remap the ECU once the vehicle has been demonstrated to pass as a type at the factory or testing facility and the claim that a NEW vehicle complies can truthfully be made.

    A similar thing happened with the Suzuki Hayabusa motorcycle. By a “gentlemans agreement” the Japanese manufacturers decided to limit the top speed to 300 Km/hr (or about 187.5 MPH) so mapped the ECU accordingly to deliver 299 Km/hr.

    It is less than a 5 minute job for someone to plug a computer into the motorcycle and remap the ECU for unlimited top end (about 230 MPH or about 370 Km/hr).

    So are Volkswagen to blame or the greenies and buraucrats? It’s like any rule – someone will always find a way around it and it looks like VW are the first to be found out. ALL manufacturers will map to the rule and it’s more than likely that they will ALL be found wanting.

  • Mr Black

    I read an article yesterday that explained that the problem was CO2 and NOx emissions are a trade-off. Generally to get less of one, you must produce more of the other. In the fanatic attempt to reduce harmless CO2, it caused a huge increase in the NOx emissions, and then when NOx was regulated harshly as it’s actually an undesirable pollutant, the car manufacturers were caught in a bind. You cannot do both at once, not without using additional scrubbing systems like urea injection. If the regulators would ease up on CO2, NOx could easily be brought under the limits. Government idiocy at its finest.

  • Mr. Ed, the problem is that you don’t have a common law claim for something that is a purely statutory requirement. There’s no common law duty to test your emissions, so the statutory requirement is the entirety of the duty. Since the regulations all state “at the time of testing” that means that VW is almost certainly 100% compliant.

    US law is much more codified than English law, since our ex post facto constitutional provision has been interpreted to mean that there is no criminal common law — if an offense isn’t codified, then to prosecute someone under it means that a court is rewriting the law after the fact. There are common law elements of civil court (which is where this would likely end up anyways), but in those courts, the US law is that a duty that is purely statutory — meaning that there isn’t an established practice before the law was passed — is something that is strictly applied to the law, and common law duties don’t apply.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Just to confirm Mr. Black’s remark, I read a similar article a day or two ago.

    Meanwhile, the trees are gasping for more CO2. More CO2!!

    –Has anybody pointed this out to Corbyn’s Vegan? Yet he wants us to murder plants for food for ourselves! How unworshipful is that! And I bet he wants us to quit inspiring O2, so as to cut our CO2 emissions. Even worse!! Tsk!!!

  • Mr Ed


    Thanks for that, I imagine that there would be scope for RICO charges under the heading of fraud for concealing the nature of emissions.

  • Patrick Crozier

    Rolling coal. Cool. And pics.

  • Someone needs to get ’em telt it’s all chemicals. That they are chemicals. That the jojoba-inspired foot-scrubs made by headless Tibetan Monks out of yak shit are chemicals. All tunes on the 92 permutations. I’m leaving out the transuranics because they’re more physics. Physics is just as evil – more so since Trinity. I mean d’ya think Carrie-Anne Moss’s garb was knitted by Bolivian peasants to the mystical sound of the nose-flute? They saw you coming and probably put it on social media. They can go live in yurts in Basingstoke for all I care.

  • Stuck-Record

    One of the interesting aspects of this is technological equivalence.

    It is rare in any mature technological field for one manufacturer to have huge technological advantage over another. We’re in an age with phones and tvs and washing machines where there is a curve of price/excellence curve, and, with a few exceptions (and notable patents) different manufacturers models are very similar standards at the same pricepoints.*

    I’d be VERY surprised that if a top engineering company like VW couldn’t make their vehicles pass the emissions test without this software cheat, the other manufacturers are so far ahead that they could. Really?

    I suspect there is a great deal more to come out here. If VW were cheating to pass the test my suspicion is all the others were too – just in uniquely, and not yet discovered ways.

    *Apple being an example of the exception, where you are paying a huge mark-up for the badge.

  • JohnK

    I read somewhere that GM engineers who were working on diesel engines did not understand how VW was able to pass the emissions tests without the urea – now they know.

    You mean VW were literally taking the piss out of the regulations?

  • Mr Ed

    Following on from Deep Lurker, on the chemistry of all this, in brief. There are two oxides of carbon, carbon monoxide, CO, and carbon dioxide, CO2. The latter results from the complete combustion of carbon in air, the former is a toxic product of incomplete combustion. CO was what allowed people to gas themselves on exhaust fumes from petrol engines with carburettors. Fuel injection is just too efficient to allow for significant CO emissions in normal running. Engine management systems and catalysts are designed to get rid of CO by complete combustion of carbon, CO (and hyrdocarbons) to CO2 (and H2O – water), essentially the source of carbon being the fuel in the tank. CO2 is harmless, as we all know, unless you breathe in enough to upset your blood chemistry by messing up gaseous exchange in your lungs.

    The source of NOx (various oxides of Nitrogen) is essentially an unintended by-product of fuel combustion, with oxygen combining with nitrogen to form N2O, NO and NO2, the three combinations of nitrogen and oxygen produced by burning fuel. A short description of them is in this Canadian paper. The concern over NOx is essentially about smog, NO2 being brown and highly toxic gives the brown haze to smog, and can seriously impact on air quality. NO is biologically active and can become NO2, whilst N2O is laughing gas, nitrous oxide, used as a mild anaesthetic.

    The reason why this all started is that VW, being a bunch of cheating bastards, had to meet the NOx emission requirements, and it seems to be alleged that they wished to do so without using engine settings that reduced fuel economy to a point where CO2 emissions went so high that the thieving carbon taxes made their cars unattractive.

  • pete

    I’d have expected to read a bit more about personal responsibility on a libertarian blog, instead of blaming the government.

    I didn’t buy a diesel car just because the EU and our government have been making them a financially attractive proposition.

    The information that they are filthy, dangerous vehicles which spew noxious fumes out all over the place has been widely available for decades.

    So I didn’t buy one just to save myself a few quid on fuel costs.

    The people to blame for the health problems caused by diesel cars are the people who chose to buy and use them.

  • Runcie Balspune

    Just to put the “spewing out death” into context, whilst NOx has a far bigger effect as a greenhouse gas than CO2, the vast amount is put into the atmosphere by soil management (agriculture), the contribution made by transport engines is tiny, and private transport even tinier.

  • I’d have expected to read a bit more about personal responsibility on a libertarian blog, instead of blaming the government.

    Why shouldn’t we blame the government for immoral laws?

  • Jordan

    If you sell goods to Sauron, you do so on his terms, a fact of life.

    If Sauron is the government in your analogy, then I’m afraid you’ve got it wrong. VW is selling goods to the shire-folk, but they must first jump through Sauron’s hoops to do so.

  • Patrick Crozier

    Do I understand that you can reduce CO2 or NOx but not both at the same time?

  • CaptDMO

    Well, you CAN, however the vehicles for such a system consume wood in their manufacture, and the power
    plants produce methane, and manure in the streets.

  • Mr Ed

    Well it’s very sad that the Qatari Sovereign Wealth Fund has lost, as things stand, around £3,300,000,000 from its stake in Volkswagen, according the Telegraph.

    If Sauron is the government in your analogy, then I’m afraid you’ve got it wrong. VW is selling goods to the shire-folk, but they must first jump through Sauron’s hoops to do so.

    Yes Jordan, my error, not the Shire-folk, but the denizens of Mordor, who generally haven’t quite noticed how things change, like lobsters in a ‘jacuzzi’ that is becoming a thermidor. My conflation comes from my regarding citizens of the United States as Sauron’s unfortunate but still prosperous serfs, who cannot easily escape their Overlord by moving abroad, a feature that they share with Eritreans, who also face taxation when overseas, and North Koreans, who also cannot escape their government. Of course, the rule of law is wholly absent in North Korea and virtually absent in Eritrea, whereas it is merely wounded in the United States, but the United States of America strikes me as a place with a dark future ahead of it.

  • AndyRoyd

    at least humans are not blaming the innocent machines that is all i will say though i am all for more air pollution as i am immune to it but humans will reduce their own numbers thus making the robolution inevitable

  • thefrollickingmole

    NOx is a closely monitored emission in underground mines for the trucks etc. With fairly strict limits because of the fact it sinks lower and can accumulate in unventilated areas.

    The safe level for NOx from the safe work Australia draught regulations:
    The exposure standards for NO2 in general workplaces are:
    • TWA: 3 ppm; STEL 5 ppm.

    It has a specific gravity of 1.6 (1 being normal air mix) so sinks not rises.
    Im having real trouble finding what the ‘safe’ levels the EU says are mandatory, lots on fines and greenwash/healthwash.

    It might be interesting to see where these monitoring stations are sampling from, in a normal open air environment the levels given off should be negligable, unless you deliberately target places low and with restricted airflow.
    Stick a couple of these stations in manholes and you will get high readings near almost any road.

    The Commission has launched legal proceedings against the UK for its failure to cut excessive levels of nitrogen dioxide, a toxic gas. Nitrogen dioxide is the main pre-cursor for ground-level ozone causing major respiratory problems and leading to premature death. City-dwellers are particularly exposed, as most nitrogen dioxide originates in traffic fumes. European legislation sets limits on air pollution and the NOx limits should have been achieved by 1 January 2010 unless an extension was granted until 1 January 2015.

  • Mr Ed

    I am a huge fan of Diesels, despite my first, a VW Golf, having worn piston rings and leaving me ‘piston broke’, and at one stage emitting on start-up the sort of smokescreen that the Tirpitz put out as the Tallboys fell. I prefer the solid, reliable, economical engine and long range to the thirsty petrol engine alternative.

    This whole nonsense would not have started without the bogus anti-CO2 scam built up by governments across the world, but the fact that Volkswagen wished to dodge the pollution controls and run with the hounds of the State and the hare of fuel efficiency is purely their fault. It is absolutely wrong to deceive a purchaser as to the efficiency of a vehicle and to sell someone a car that may lead them to violate the law. Certainly in the UK, breaching emission regulations is a strict liability offence, the fact that your car cheats due to no fault of your own is mitigation, not a defence.

  • I drive a diesel here in France, mainly because everyone here drives diesels: I understand the French were early pioneers of the diesel engine and pushed them out through their own marques long before the rest of the world saw the fuel economy benefit to them, and I heard somewhere that the French refineries are set up to supply more diesel than petrol. As a result, diesel here retails at 20 cents per litre less than petrol. It’ll be interesting to see what the French do if the EU starts getting all anti-diesel.

    As for performance…well, mine puts out 248bhp, which is plenty fast enough.

  • I like diesels too, although I must mention the downsides: you don’t want to run your fuel tank all the way to ’empty’, and you don’t want to park it outside in cold weather. Oh, and they tend to be noisy, but I imagine that the newer models manage to mitigate that to at least some degree.

  • Regrading the VW debacle, I could care less about the emissions thing, but I do wonder what else are they cheating on.

  • …could not care less…

  • you don’t want to run your fuel tank all the way to ’empty’

    You generally don’t want to do that with petrols either, particularly when far from home. 😉

    Oh, and they tend to be noisy, but I imagine that the newer models manage to mitigate that to at least some degree.

    Mine sounds like a tractor.

  • llamas

    The cost of diesel fuel varies wildly in the US because it is associated in the refining process with home heating oil and other distillate fuels. Large parts of the Northeast still use oil for heating and so there are wide seasonal variations in diesel fuel cost, depending on heating oil demand. However, it is usually quite-a-bit more costly than regular gasoline.

    The point is well-made that all of this follows directly from the insane regulation of pollutants driven by the myth of AGW. The irrational obsession with carbon is what drove VW to do what they did. And while oxides of nitrogen are not the most wonderful things in the world, even at the elevated levels that it is claimed VW was allowing their engines to operate, they are still putting out far, far less than the engines of 20 or 30 years ago.

    The bigger point is that this is all the inevitable fallout of 30 years of politically- and religiously-motivated regulation in the US that is designed to curtail the individual ownership of automobiles as far as possible. Ever-more-demanding restrictions on emissions, ever-higher requirements for fuel economy, ever-greater demands for safety, the goal is to get to automobiles which cannot be manufactured to be compliant with all of government’s demands and still be attractive and affordable to the buying public. The exact mechanism by which it occurs matters little – whether manufacturers quit the market (as VW did with diesel a few years ago, before their return), or get badgered out by lawsuits, fines and the unsupportable burdens of ever-more-regulation, matters little.

    Most American cars are now carry several thousand $$$ of additional costs for features and systems mandated by the government in the name of safety, none of which have had any significant effects on rates of death and injury. Fuel economy has never been better, even though the government deliberately waters down gasoline in order to keep corn farmers in Iowa happy. And yet it keeps on coming – the next thing coming down the regulatory pipe is mandatory rear-view cameras. Another $200 per vehicle. The fuel economy standards are now so insane that Ford is having to build its best-selling vehicle – the F150 pickup truck – out of aluminum, which costs 2-3x the price of steel and is possibly the most stupid choice there is for a material to build a vehicle out of, short of sterling silver. I can’t even imagine what’s next.



  • You generally don’t want to do that with petrols either, particularly when far from home.

    Gas stations are actually useful for both 🙂 Point is, a diesel can be tricky to start when the tank is empty – not so with gasoline. Although maybe the newer ones solved that too?

  • Paul Marks

    The obvious way of obeying American government “emission standard” regulations is to make cars lighter.

    This means that more people will be killed in car crashes – but what is a few dead people if the government regulations are served!

    General Motors (which produces shoddy, dangerous, cars anyway) would love this “solution” – although it might be fined from time to time (for example the 900 million Dollar fine it got for killing people too obviously recently), but it will never be allowed to go bankrupt – as the useless company would have gone bankrupt in a free market, the United Auto Workers Union is too powerful.

    VW came up with another solution (that did not involve killing people) – just cheat the government “emission standard” tests.

    This is clearly unacceptable – killing people is much better.

    There is a third solution – legal cheating.

    Find a loophole (or bribe the government to get one) and then you do not have to kill people.

    For example the most popular car in the United States is “not a car”.

    It is the Ford F150 – a “light truck” most of the “emission standard” regulations do not apply to “light trucks”.

    So one does not have to kill people, or break the rules.

    One can just cheat legally – as with the F150.

    “But what about C02”.

    Oh the government regulations do not really reduce C02 emissions – as people (who do not want to killed in flimsy cars) drive around in “light tricks”.

    But the government people do get the thrill of power in passing regulations and making everyone jump about.

    And the thrill of power is the important thing.

  • Point is, a diesel can be tricky to start when the tank is empty – not so with gasoline.

    You are quite right, I was just being an arse. 🙂 You need to bleed the engine if you run a diesel dry, which is a pain enough on an old tractor, let alone a modern car.

  • Nah, you were just being the funny guy with the cigar 😀

  • Sean

    Running out of fuel has not been a big deal in my diesel Toyota Landcruiser. Add fuel to the tank, manually bleed the system via a conveniently located button in the engine compartment, and away you go. They are not known as Range Rover recovery vehicles for nothing…

  • Sean, I bet you were not wearing an evening gown and high heels at the time? 😀

  • Rich Rostrom

    The three nitrogen oxides are grouped as “NOx” because they are all the result of incomplete combustion, they are all chemically active, and they are all toxic to some degree.

    Carbon oxides are CO, which is similar to the nitrogen oxides, and CO2, which is very different. Thus the category of “COx” would be useless.

    As to the fuel economy requirements: they long predate the CAGW scam. The “CAFE” (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) requirement was established in 1975, in response to the sharp risee in oil prices at that time

    Schrodinger’s Dog @ September 26, 2015 at 1:39 pm:

    Finally London’s air isn’t that bad, despite what some people claim. Air pollution in London peaked sometime in the 1920s and has been declining ever since… (Note, statists, that the decline started long before the first Clean Air Act was passed in 1956.)

    But it was still very bad in 1952, when the Great Smog of 5-9 December killed 4,000 people. In the 1935 film The Divorce of Lady X, the plot is kicked off when Leslie Steele (Merle Oberon) can’t get home due to the smog.

  • a

    IIRC, diesel lasts much linger in storage than petrol. Petrol gunks up after a year or so, while diesel is still good at that point. TEOTWAWKI scenarios (especially US tv shows) that ignore this irk me. The paranoid in me says this is part of the reason why diesel is being targetted, and the content if those shows is deliberately perpetuated to screw over the ignorant among preppers and would-bes.

  • Rob Fisher

    This Lewis Page article in The Register suggests the problem of NOx is bigger than just cars, though I do wonder if even that problem is overstated: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/09/25/vw_pollution_just_the_tip_of_the_iceberg_whos_to_blame_you_guessed_it_hippies/?page=1

  • Paul Marks

    A 900 million fine is not “not the smallest fine” – at least not on paper.

    However, remember that General Motors was saved from bankruptcy by government action (action that torn up centuries of contract law).

    If anyone believes the propaganda about how General Motors has paid back all its creditors – I have a nice bridge to sell you.

    The United Auto Workers Union benefits – everyone else loses.

    Basically the government has (by allowing the company to cheat its creditors) given GM the money it uses to fund the paying of fines for its habit of killing people stupid enough to buy its cars.

    Bottom line.

    If you have a choice between a VW and a GM car.

    Choose the former.

  • llamas

    Paul Marks wrote:

    ‘General Motors (which produces shoddy, dangerous, cars anyway) . . . ‘

    Obviously written by a person who knows nothing about GM cars.

    (while I live in the Detroit Metro area, and I am a mechanical engineer, I don’t work in the auto industry, never have, and hold no brief for GM).

    GM produces cars across a wide spectrum, ranging from high-performance sports cars, to luxury barges, to boring grocery-getters, to maximum-economy micro-cars. Their cars are generally entirely-average when it comes to quality and safety.

    Do you really want to get into a discussion of the quality or safety of GM cars vs VW cars? Fine, I’ll play. Only I’ll bring data, not merely my opinions.

    Here’s the latest vehicle quality indices from tradeinquality.com, which measures used-vehicle reliability. Note the appalling performance of VW when compared to all GM brands.


    JD Power provides the reliability data for new cars. Same story.


    When we look at safety and compare GM and VW – the results are all tabulated here:


    Note the decidedly ho-hum performance of VW products when compared to just-about anybody else, including most GM products.

    So –

    “If you have a choice between a VW and a GM car.” – why would you choose the VW? It’s more-costly, less reliable and less safe than just about any comparable GM product. If you have VW money to spend – buy a Subaru, which is more-reliable and safer than most comparable GM products, most of the time.

    Your statements are a legacy of common UK misconceptions about American cars, which may have been true 40 years ago but just aren’t true today. And the common misconception about the quality and reliability of German cars vs American cars, simply does not apply to VW, or not as they are sold in the US, anyway. Not my opinion – look at the data.



  • Laird

    With respect to the debate between Paul Marks and llamas over “VW vs GM”, I say a pox on both their houses. I own a VW conversion Eurovan, and I long ago vowed that I would never again buy a VW product. The conversion parts (by Winnebago) are great, but the VW itself is not. All sorts of mechanical problems over the years, and getting parts (in the US) is always a problem (and they’re outrageously expensive). That may not be as much of an issue with more popular models, but it’s enough for me. And as to GM, after they became “Government Motors” I swore I would never again buy a GM product, and I haven’t. (I still have an old Chevy Suburban, but I bought it long before the bailout and it was used anyway.) So I’m not buying either. Ever.

    My everyday “car” is a Ford F150. I love it.

  • Mr Ed

    OT, but meanwhile in Detroit, a man spotted a spider on his car’s petrol (gasoline) tank whilst filling up, so he decided to use his lighter to burn it off

    Emissions arose.

  • Has the Darwin Awards Committee been notified?

  • Mr Ed

    Ineligible Alisa, except gor a non-posthumous ‘Mention in Despatches,. You have to die to qualify, unlike the VC etc.

  • Some people can’t even succeed in being idiots – there ought to be an award for that too.