Automotive

VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing

20 February 2017

The Volkswagen emissions scandal highlights a dilemma in the engineering workplace. Should an employee, in this case a software engineer, follow orders from higher-ups even when the employee knows the order to be unethical or even illegal?

The question was faced by engineers at Volkswagen when their managers approved a plan to alter how the company’s diesel engines performed during tests to determine emission levels.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in September 2015 announced Volkswagen had been using a “defeat device,” or software, in its diesel engines; the device could detect when the engine was being tested, then changed the engine’s performance level to improve results on emissions tests. U.S. officials said the company had been deceiving regulators for at least 10 years, and called the situation “particularly egregious” because it involved senior managers.

Jeffrey Seglin, Harvard UniversityJeffrey Seglin, Harvard University“An employee should never be put in a position where they are asked to do something illegal,” says Jeffrey Seglin, a lecturer and director of the Harvard Kennedy School Communications Program at Harvard University. Seglin is author of The Right Thing, a weekly column on general ethics syndicated by Tribune Media Services, and also author of the book The Right Thing: Conscience, Profit and Personal Responsibility in Today’s Business.

“In (the Volkswagen) case, it may have been the culture of the company,” Seglin says. “When the culture of the company goes so far that no one in management is saying ‘don’t do this,’ then employees have to stand up and say no. The employee has to figure out if this is something they’re willing to fall on their sword over. Certainly the employee should say something, but they have to be willing to leave (the company).”

Allegations

The EPA said Volkswagen engineers designed software that was capable of testing multiple scenarios, including monitoring speed, engine operation, air pressure and even positioning of the vehicle’s steering wheel. The software could determine when the vehicle was operating in a controlled condition, such as when it was stationary in a laboratory environment – as happens during an emissions test.

The “defeat device” would then operate the engine below normal power and performance, lowering the emission of nitrogen oxide pollutants. The EPA said emissions levels otherwise would have been up to 40 times above levels allowed in the U.S.

Diesel engines on average emit about one-fifth less carbon dioxide than gasoline-powered engines, but diesel engines put out far more nitrogen oxide. That’s because gas-powered engines, where the exhaust contains no excess oxygen, can use a catalytic converter to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. Diesel engines – which have excess oxygen in their emissions – are not able to use the catalytic converter and thus emit more nitrogen oxide.

Arthur Schwartz, NSPEArthur Schwartz, NSPE“It’s the ultimate dilemma,” says Arthur Schwartz, deputy executive director and general counsel of the National Society of Professional Engineers. “Part of being a licensed engineer is that you adhere to a code of professional conduct, report situations where conduct could be illegal, and not engage in activity that violates the law. If you’re working for a company there is usually an internal process for reporting an illegality. The best thing to do is follow the internal mechanisms without disruption to the organization, and there should be protections in place for the employee.”

Moral Foundation

The engineers in this case were faced with a difficult decision, says Rick Kenney, chair of the Department of Communication (singular is correct) at Augusta University in Georgia, where he lectures about professional and business ethics. “I tell students they should always be building a moral foundation in order to better handle those types of situations.”

Ethics should never be a "knee-jerk reaction,” says Kenney. “Don’t make decisions in the moment, but rather reach out to people you trust. The more people you can collaborate with, the better you can handle that situation.”

Rick Kenney, Augusta UniversityRick Kenney, Augusta UniversitySchwartz agrees with Kenney and reiterates that an engineer faced with such a situation would benefit from a support system.

“It’s certainly something to discuss with colleagues and peers, to determine how to proceed,” he says. “But it really comes down to one’s morals, values, and ethics. If you’re an engineer and you have integrity, you must determine how to navigate through the situation. That means determining the consequences in the short term and the long term not only for the organization but also for (yourself).”

The case continues to haunt Volkswagen and has made consumers wary about trusting other automakers’ claims about low-emission or “clean diesel” vehicles. Volkswagen already has agreed to pay more than $20 billion to settle claims just in the U.S. That includes an agreement made in January 2017 to pay $4.3 billion to settle the Justice Department’s civil and criminal investigation. The company is still being investigated by German authorities for criminal violations. Other European nations as well as South Korea are considering their own investigations.

In addition to the $20 billion in U.S. claims, the EPA could fine VW up to $37,500 for each vehicle involved in the U.S. cover-up, or about another $18 billion. Officials have said the case could drag on for years. VW ended sales of diesel vehicles in the U.S. in late 2015 and said it has no plans to resume those sales.

Professional Responsibility

Yotam Lurie, a senior lecturer of business ethics at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, in 2015 published an oft-cited paper Professional Ethics for Software Engineers. Lurie compared the VW engineers to the accountants at Enron who were told by the organization to create accounting loopholes and change auditing procedures to hide billions of dollars in debt.

Yotam Lurie, Ben-Gurion UniversityYotam Lurie, Ben-Gurion UniversityLurie said “It’s shocking that the software engineers of Volkswagen overlooked and neglected their fiduciary responsibility as professionals. Professionals who have a semi-regulatory responsibility within the organization to ensure safety, in this case environmental safety, even when this is less efficient or economical.”

U.S. prosecutors in January 2017 indicted six German VW executives on charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and violation of the U.S. Clean Air Act in connection with the diesel case. One of those executives, Oliver Schmidt, was arrested at an airport in Miami in January as he prepared to return to Germany. U.S. officials said other company executives also could be charged for their roles in the scandal. Another former VW worker, engineer James Liang, pled guilty to fraud charges in September 2016 in connection with the case.

The Justice Department said all those charged thus far have ties to VW’s engine development and quality assurance division in Germany and the U.S. The department says those charged told engineers at VW to develop and install technology to evade emissions testing, all while the company marketed the vehicles as “clean diesel.”

The emissions scandal involves at least 11 million vehicles worldwide, including more than 500,000 that were imported and sold in the U.S. Volkswagen has said it is recalling the affected vehicles, including 2.4 million in Germany, its home country.

U.S. officials in charging documents said that when the plan was discovered, VW “did corruptly alter, destroy, mutilate and conceal business records” in an effort to disrupt the investigation, with at least one supervisor deleting emails and files concerning the software and telling employees to do the same. U.S. regulators first raised concerns about VW emissions levels in 2014 but VW dismissed those results as “technical issues.” Further investigation by the EPA led to the 2015 disclosure of the illegal software.

Corporate Culture

As Seglin noted, the case – as with other high-profile cases involving business ethics such as Enron, the tobacco industry, and automakers such as GM (faulty ignitions) and Toyota (unintended acceleration issues) – highlights how the culture of a company can lead to difficult situations for workers.

Broward County, Fla., sheriff's office booking photo of VW executive Oliver Schmidt.Broward County, Fla., sheriff's office booking photo of VW executive Oliver Schmidt.“Employees should work to change the culture of their company if they see things that are unethical and certainly if something is illegal,” he says. “But these cases show that companies may take years to accept responsibility and changing the culture is not likely to happen quickly.”

The scandal has resulted in a shakeup of VW executives. Martin Winterkorn, the company’s CEO when the scandal broke, resigned and was replaced by former Porsche executive Matthias Mueller.

“My most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group, by leaving no stone unturned,” Mueller said at the time.

Michael Horn, who was CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, left the company by “mutual agreement” in March 2016. Horn had said “We’ve totally screwed up” when the scandal first came to light.

As part of the settlement of the diesel case, the company on Feb. 7, 2017, announced the launch of its Electrify America unit, based in Reston, Virginia. The company says Electrify America is part of a $2 billion investment in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and awareness programs. The company said it plans to install more than 500 electric-vehicle charging stations nationwide as it rolls out new electric vehicle models.

The charging stations must be accessible to all electric vehicles, not just Volkswagen models. VW unveiled an electric microbus concept vehicle at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2017, and said it plans to launch 30 electric or hybrid vehicle models by 2025 in response to the emissions scandal.

Sales of diesel-engine vehicles have dropped over the past few years and represent about 1% of all new vehicle sales in the U.S., according to automotive consultant Vendigital. The VW scandal has resulted in more scrutiny of other diesel manufacturers’ emissions results and has brought calls for better testing methods in Europe, where diesel vehicles account for about half of new vehicle sales, higher than anywhere else worldwide. However, forecasts from industry consultant Acea says the market share for diesel vehicles in Europe is expected to fall below 40% by 2025.

To contact the author of this article, email engineering360editors@ieeeglobalspec.com


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Discussion – 25 comments

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Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#1
2017-Feb-21 11:43 AM

What is being done about all the other car manufacturers, from any different country, also caught doing the same thing?

What is the U.S. government doing about all the diesel trucks, found doing the same things, in the 1990s? It's really nothing new.....

Is it because many US vehicle manufacturers are amongst those others?

At least that's what it looks like!!!

I agree VW was wrong, but so are all the others, so each should be treated the same way....

Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#2
2017-Feb-28 9:38 AM

VW are very unlucky that their engineers did not do the right thing - or that they were not caught 10 - 15 years ago.

Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#3
2017-Feb-28 10:35 AM

It is pretty well established that what happened with VW was illegal, however I am not entirely convinced that what VW did was unethical.

If a law is created which states all engineers must wear a green shirt on Thursday but some engineers choose instead to wear a red shirt on a Thursday, they have broken "the law," but were they in fact doing something unethical? Clearly, the only point of the "green shirt" law was to justify the position of the person meant to enforce that law.

The case at hand concerns over 11 million vehicles during a 10 to 15 year time period wherein they were emitting 40 times the legal limit of emissions.

Consider the following: if 11 million vehicles can emit 40 times the legal limit and no one on the street can tell the difference, of what use was "the legal limit?" If no one could tell the difference, it sounds to me like the entire point of the law was to justify the positions of the people at the EPA who wrote the law and claim their own positions as necessary to enforce "the law."

Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#4
Anonymous Poster #1
2017-Feb-28 10:53 AM

It's one thing to be an outsider, passing judgment onto people you have not worked with, vs. being part of the actual guilty staff. It's also different depending on where you fall in the hierarchy. The higher you are in management, the more responsibility you should accept (not to say that lower staff aren't responsible, but since lower staff has the least say in final decisions they should also be less penalized).

I haven't worked for VW, so I can't comment on the corporate culture there. But my experience in similar situations with other companies tends to make me distrust the higher management more than the regular staff. Often management does not disclose the full picture or intentions. It assigns parts of a project to different people, and another group to assemble those parts into the final product, so you may not realize what your work is actually contributing to. Or you may not be aware of laws or regulations involved.

Often, management exercises a stern fist over the manipulation of its staff. They know that many have family and financial commitments that make them vulnerable to the "do this or you're fired" tactic. Many companies in the U.S. hold Green Card status over immigrant employees. If you need the job and you're not sure that your part is unethical, you're likely to put your head down and focus on the technical challenge alone.

I've been in the position where I questioned the ethics of management's orders and have left jobs over it. It has not helped my career even if it did help my conscience. Questioning management stalls your future at the company - you're now considered a troublemaker - and you'll have an awkward situation to discuss during new job interviews (and a bad reference to refute your story). I've had interviewers tell me that although they were impressed that I stood up for ethics against managerial pressure, they were concerned that I "wouldn't fit into their culture." As in, they wanted followers - not thinkers.

In retrospect, all I can suggest is a three-pronged defense: 1) document everything and keep copies in your personal possession, 2) live below your means while aggressively paying off your debts and building up savings - so job security threats have less impact, and 3) build a good reputation among coworkers and in your industry so, if ethics become a problem with your employer, you can jump ship before the storm. It is okay to test the waters by voicing concerns, but tread carefully; even small, valid points can be perceived as threats to management. In the end, they will protect themselves and throw you under the bus – the bigger their smile, the more likely they’ll do that.

Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#6
In reply to #4
2017-Feb-28 1:08 PM

GA and very well put and HOW true.....

I've had stand up arguments with my last boss over such things.

Lucky for me, having worked for the company for over 26 years, plus being in Germany where you have a certain "guarantee", missing in some other countries....they could not fire me without "paying me off" handsomely!

When the CEO drove the company into the ground and we were bought out, "lock, stock and barrel" by another large company, my boss was eventually well & truly shafted by upper management, and boy did he deserve it!!

He forgot that I had really two jobs, and one of them was as an inofficial quality engineer for the whole worldwide company, where my official "boss" was a small cog, but my other boss, was the big bad wolf himself.....but he saw me really well dealt with once I turned 59. A really great gesture.....he was a man of his word....my boss was not!

Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#12
In reply to #6
2017-Feb-28 11:06 PM

Lkg fwd 2 th bk!

Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#10
In reply to #4
RF
2017-Feb-28 6:25 PM

"so you may not realize what your work is actually contributing to" - one thing is for certain: if it is a special management request what you will be contributing to is the management bonuses.

Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#5
2017-Feb-28 11:30 AM

Maybe so, but the USA should have went easier on VW. The USA allowed bad emission testing on wood boilers for YEARS. Where is their fine? The USA is as guilty as that industry. I think they fined VW as a way of extorting money. The best part is the USA/EPA is still allowing dirty wood boilers to be used. Here is a video by PBS that shows how my and three other families are still smoked out. Where is the fairness and justice? There are over a million of these polluting boilers in the USA. http://video.wcny.org/video/2365195324/

Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#7
In reply to #5
2017-Feb-28 1:19 PM

Something similar I find: around 15 odd years or more, there was a survey done in both Austria & Germany. They found that, for a small town, it only takes one simple wood burner to furnish the whole town with very fine particles. ONE!!

Those are the particles that go deep into the lungs and basically cannot ever get out.

So electrostatic "scrubbers" were designed and built with the idea that every wood burner would have to fit one on his chimney (a cost, with installation, of around US $6,000).

Since then nothing has happened, the law has not yet been changed......

Pellet stoves were exempted due to their smokeless burning (by the way, if you can see smoke, that's the dangerous fine particles!), on average between 100 and 1000 times less fine particles than the best wood burners......

I think the reason nothing has happened is simply that there are too many voters with dirty wood burners around.....

RSHAW2400 - Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#8
2017-Feb-28 1:53 PM

I'm glad there is a forum for engineers and lay-folk to discuss these issues of corporate deception, especially when those of us in any industry give our word for the safety or health consequences of our actions - I am not an engineer, I am a physician.

VW provided to the US hundreds of "Bait & Switch" vehicles that some consumers purchased because of the "Clean Diesel" recommendations backed by the EPA and other consumer testing organizations. You say you are not sure if VW was unethical. I say VW was clearly unethical in such a bait & switch situation. Clearly a poorly running engine will produce more noxious fumes than a well running engine, the greater the torque requirements and the higher RPM the more fuel consumption and the more waste gases. To reduce those high pollutant (40x the allowable levels in the US) periods by software and allow "real driver situations" with the excessive pollutant production is bait & switch.

Possibly the US was too harsh. VW did produce diesel engines that were within acceptable limits when modified by software, clearly they could keep the software working in the real world - but performance lag would have lost some customer base (I'll admit, it would have made me think twice before buying if there was significant diesel lag when accelerating just to reduce nitrogenous waste) - we should applaud VW's engineers & designers while we still hold their management's "feet to the fire." Just saying - ethics is ethics is ethics, and this seems like clearly unethical behavior on VW management's part. All too clearly unethical in my view.

Re: RSHAW2400 - Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#13
In reply to #8
2017-Mar-01 3:03 AM

What do you say about all the other car and truck companies (since the 1990s) that do exactly the same thing?

What do you say about the US agencies that:-

1) cannot make a rule that cannot be easily "bent".

2) Do basically nothing to check that the rule is being followed as designed?

(A journalist actually "blew the whistle" and VW just happened to be the first CAR company he tested, though some US and foreign truck companies were caught doing this in the 1990's by US Agencies.....)

Even several American car (not just trucks!) brand names are in the "pot".....(I have posted all the infos previously here. You may have not bothered to read that info or follow the links!!....I really don't know either way....but you are not fully informed, nor are you making a "fair" judgement!)

DO WHAT I SAY, NOT WHAT I DO?

I have personally nothing against ALL THESE COMPANIES ALL BEING "HIT" by the US government and their agencies, but singling out one from many is simply unfair.

You might even call it nowadays, the sort of decision that a t.rump might make!!! It certainly has nothing to do with democracy or fairness....

Re: RSHAW2400 - Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#14
In reply to #13
2017-Mar-01 7:40 AM

If other car manufacturers are doing the same thing ( and I believe they are ), it just further reinforces my point.

If tens of millions of vehicles can produce 40 times the emission limit for an entire decade and no one can tell the difference, why did anyone feel that emissions standard was necessary? ( other than the government bureaucrats that need to create laws only to justify their own position/employment )

Re: RSHAW2400 - Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#18
In reply to #14
2017-Mar-02 12:56 AM

"why did anyone feel that emissions standard was necessary?"

Something about the planet?

Re: RSHAW2400 - Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#16
In reply to #13
2017-Mar-01 2:05 PM

Why bring in trump. This occurred during someone else's Administration. The unfairness of singling one out is not right. There are many more industries that could be fined. Why doesn't everybody just insure our planets health for generations to come!

The government Looks like they are protecting us.

I ask for clean air to yard work.

Where is the out cry on these two issues

http://www.environews.tv/122416-doe-incentivized-executives-hanford-sweep-plutonium-leak-rug-pt-4/

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/03/01/epa-accused-of-colluding-with-monsanto.aspx?utm_source=dnl&utm_medium=email&utm_content=art1&utm_campaign=20170301Z1_UCM&et_cid=DM135064&et_rid=1907764950

Re: RSHAW2400 - Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#17
In reply to #16
2017-Mar-01 3:29 PM

Let us give him a year and see if I am right or not!!

Re: RSHAW2400 - Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#20
In reply to #13
2017-Mar-02 4:22 PM

Okay - here is what I say about the open market and non-deceptive advertising - ie. advertising "Clean Diesel" and actually having products that are clean diesels in 'real world conditions' within an engineering established operating protocol. That caveat allows for failing injectors, tinkered electronics that promote performance as aftermarket add-ons rather than manufacturer software tweaks, etc.

Open Market is indeed open. And US Agencies are political entities. And many engineers who are consulted on these things have subtle or not so subtle political views that help shape the scope of the relevant attainable benchmarks such polluting equipment designed for use in the US should meet. So, to re-write your double negative, I say agencies that establish regulations that can be easily bent (or circumvented) are next to useless, but are likely a good start. We consumers must remember "Caveat Emptor" and hold both our regulatory agencies and our commercial enterprises feet to the fire. This is on us - not on them. It is our responsibility to use our dollars to move commercial products to meet those regulations, and it is up to our voting behavior to move our legislators to understand our environmental & health concerns.

Now, you say "Do basically nothing to check that the rule is being followed as designed?"

That is a separate "sticky wicket". I believe the best in people and in institutions, and expect the worst of both in real life. I am not a pessimist or cynic, I just prefer to be pleasantly surprised and if I am completely fooled (as I have been for believing VW was really producing a decent performance diesel powered vehicle that was environmentally better than Detroit's diesels) it makes me focus on a political solution since my wallet has already voted for the myth of clean diesel. Now if a jounalist can have cars tested (I wish I had done that, when I owned a diesel VW) then I would not say "Do basically nothing to check that the rule is being followed" when the only testing possible in those days were the exact testing procedures that the software engineers managed to circumvent at the behest of management.

The logical fail of that statement is that the test was designed to determine if the diesels met the NOX standards of the most stringent state at the time. The test had to be fair and reproducible, in a fixed lab with what was high tech equipment and not terribly mobile at that time. In those days mobile phones would not fit in your pocket, so the "Do basically nothing..." question seems rather trite. We have shrunk the size and weight of testing equipment and for VW and their management that shrinking of scale and portability along with a jounalist's inquisitiveness has led to VW's black eye.

We need more jounalists like that, and we need to recognize that engineers are pressured by management to cut corners on quality and possibly even safety when it makes for a better profit margin. Without 3rd party inspections our free trade capitalistic system will live down to "Do what I say, not what I do".

And I still say I believe in ethics. If you advertise something and my regulatory agencies use tried and true methods to "verify" the claims such as "clean diesel" or "average fuel mileage" which may vary due to individual driving style/habits, I expect those claims to be in the ball park. Not so wildly wrong that they are exponentially wrong!

For me it is Caveat Emptor, fool me once as VW did, okay, I lick my wounds. Fool me for 15 years and you and your brethern will make it right for the US, and hopefully for the world. And the management that caused it will finish their retirement in style while the current group of quality engineers will find their futures de-railed by the publicity, fines, and failing profitability of their company.

Hopefully the other "Clean Diesel" engines by other manufacturers are being tested by jounalists and Consumer Reports or other 3rd party inspectors as well as EPA & NHTSA, or whomever else is tasked with automotive safety and quality.

I'm glad there is a forum for this discussion, I feel engineers are now taking the brunt of unethical management decisions and I do feel very strongly that the guilty parties are getting away with retirement intact while the industry and the consumers suffer the fall-out. Let's find the other unethical bastards and make this equitable across the industry.

Re: RSHAW2400 - Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#21
In reply to #20
2017-Mar-03 5:39 AM

You appear to not have read my previous links, so here is one of them again:-

how-the-epa-won-1-billion-from-diesel-cheaters-long-before VW

This demonstrates just how stupid those agencies are, and probably why dozens of different manufacturers, not just VW, knowing that the competition was doing it, did it as well.....

A normal person would assume that after the Truck Dieselgate, that the agency would be really careful about the cars, MANY years later...

Beauty fades, dumb is forever!!

Re: RSHAW2400 - Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#22
In reply to #21
2017-Mar-03 6:28 AM

I forgot this:-

Defeat devices from 1973 onwards!

Re: RSHAW2400 - Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#23
In reply to #21
2017-Mar-03 4:35 PM

Mr. Germany:

You assume I didn't read much other than what prompted me to add my "2 cents" as a hoodwinked consumer in the previous century. You are wrong, I did look at some of your links as well as the lack of previous posts from RSHAW2400 who confused unethical behavior against US consumers by corporate management with ethical behavior toward US consumers by corporate management.

My initial comment was to point out the "bait and switch" behavior of VW toward those hypocritical environmentalists - myself included - who want to have the smallest carbon footprint and reduce our contribution to acid rain while keeping our oil-burning rapid pace commute in comfort and in performance vehicles - hence my reply to you regarding my voting with my wallet as well as voting for like-minded representation in Washington.

I remember quite a bit from the 60's & 70's, I learned to work on vehicles when software engineers were still coding with punch cards. We could tweak engines (and carburetors) by the sound of the engine & the smell of the exhaust. Then we could go to a real state of the art tune-up center where a lucky friend worked and see how close we got to setting our ignition right. And I remember how emissions control devices added to our vehicles consisted of belt drive air pumps outputting non-combustion air into the exhaust train to "meet the emission standards". We knew it was a joke, we knew manufacturers were exploiting a loophole, and we were sure engineers would develop better engines in the future. Big news flash, they did and the improved regulatory structure also has loopholes which VW - and others - have managed to circumvent.

I learned diesel engine repair on the farm with no software involved. My engineering background is in biochemistry, although I spent my childhood rebuilding everything I could get my hands on, and reading everything a non-internet world could provide in the public library.

Now for your: I could care less how many years we US citizens have been hoodwinked; I could care less if VW is the only corporate entity that pays the price this decade; I applaud the jounalists and/or agencies that expose unethical behavior "YET ONCE AGAIN". I only care that the private citizen vote their conscience and realize they can vote their wallet, and that software and design engineers get credit for their amazing technological advances and not bear the brunt of the industry shaming for management's culture of cutting corners & integrity for money.

You call agency engineers stupid, you call agency bureaucrats who keep systems & regulations moving in the directions our government insist upon stupid. Nice to be you.

They are professionals doing their job and are handicapped by many different special interests just like we have in medicine. I've never called my patients stupid, nor the archaic system we work under stupid. I have worked to improve the system rather than work down to what my "competition" was doing - which includes "competitors" who commit medicare fraud that makes the headlines. Ethics is ethics anywhere and I support ethics and decry unethical behavior. That is the purpose for my posts & I won't continue a pissing contest on your views or any other views. You wish to discuss the unethical behavior of VW management, I'll reply. You want anything else, then put it out in the comments for the moderators to watch - but anything other than ethics - or another personal view of how I "appear", and I will not bite.

Peace.

Re: RSHAW2400 - Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#24
In reply to #23
2017-Mar-04 12:37 AM

You complain about others here making comments about subjects that do not pertain to the dieselgate scandals, but do it yourself! (with how you have repaired and rebuilt diesels amongst other things......)

What has that got to do with the price of fish?

I have only one thing, its the simple unfairness of the USA in "picking" on one particular manufacturer at this time (and many of the posters here, including you), when so many other car and truck manufacturers, are doing exactly the same at this time, and some have done for it many years previously, and have been previously caught out doing it.

In previous years, many of these were apparently mostly US companies, who are not(?) going to be penalised in the same manner for doing it again?

So, let me say it one last time for you, either ALL should be charged or NONE should be charged, as the agencies concerned, were simply NOT up to the task of making sure that all kept to the rules, because they were "............"

(Too stupid might fit!!)

GOT IT NOW?

(Do also please notice that I have mentioned nothing of my own "life story", which has nothing to do with the problems, while laying it out, yet again, for you,!)

Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#9
2017-Feb-28 4:38 PM

When Good Engineers (Quality Control / Software ) report to functional heads whose KPI's are ultimately linked to production / despatch figures, disaster is in the making. Secondly, the Good Engineers are entirely at the mercy of ther bosses and of the industry in general. Damned if they do AND damned if they don't. Were they to have pointed out the flaws in their own VW cars and not cleared them for sale, they would have been terminated. The "good" American automotive industry would not have given them another chance / employment because they would not be considered "cooperative team players".

The best way of avoiding this issue - as I have always advocated - Third party inspection. Lest some amongst us may raise the banner of additional costs- no - this would not be applicable.

Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#11
2017-Feb-28 7:44 PM

Given the reams of indignation printed regarding emissions cheating, and that that indignation has moved from being visited on VW management to software engineers, it leads one to wonder whether there was a great deal more to the entire emissions scandal than simply cheating rather than complying with specific CARB mandated methodology.

Yes, based on efficiency robbing technologies utilized to reduce combustion chamber temperatures and NOX emissions, the loss of efficiency and multiplication of unburned particulate carbon caused by replacing combustion air with hot exhaust only makes sense if you're selling fuel and $3,000.00 particulate filters. This recycle methodology is a CARB (California Air Resources Board) regulation and contained within that remarkable compliance edict is an intolerance of any applied or suggested alternative processes to reduce NOX and regain efficiency. We're not talking about cheating as an alternative, but rather combustion process technologies that are repeatable, reliable, and not inclined to be viewed as an attempt to make diesel engines so expensive to maintain and so unreliable as to effectively remove them from the market.

The question has to be asked why the violation was allowed to continue for approximately 10 years and which of the creators of remarkably inefficient smog-device design forgot to include testing procedures that would have disclosed emission violations under a wide range of dynamometer testing on the first day of effective regulation? The entire outrage is exclusively placed in one court and that brings up the second issue: If VW diesels had not passed valid compliance testing and never made it to the US market, 10 years of non-complying vehicles could not have been elevated to a record level of punitive corporate disgorgement. And the net result of so many people failing to do their jobs on just the inspection side of the fence: VW investors, senior management, and corporate liquidity suffer as nation-bankrupting punitive damages go into a non-transparent government till. Further, keeping product from market with adequate testing could either force better compliance technologies or prevent significant capital losses (in economics, a capital cost without benefit is inflationary).

None of the record punitive damages, investor losses, or corporate setbacks would have occurred without a mind-boggling 10-year blindness to the inadequacy of testing. This, of course, has to raise yet another question: Are there as-yet-to-be-disclosed beneficiaries of significant market-shorting positions purchased prior to publicizing this 10-year-oversight? And before I hear that credible "NO", does anyone even know the number of industrial-level EPA violations that go unremedied as a result of lobbying efforts?

I can only wonder if the unquantifiable magnitude of violation, the question of bona fide testing equipment being unable to validate compliance for over 10 years, and the specific details of insider investment positions that more is revealed by VW's nolo contendere than remarkable meekness.

Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#15
2017-Mar-01 1:18 PM

From academics it is nice to say the engineers should have stood up. But in real world it does not work. At best, the engineer can report in internal summary, red tag it etc. not beyond. More importantly, in major. Industry with cut-throat competetion, like in automobile, what one does another repeats albeit with some change. So why only two were singled out? Is it as an example for other home made brands to correct without much financial harm? There were reports of other major makes also having fudged the results in one form or another. But they got out without much scars.

At the end like mileage counter, the auto emission must be continuously monitored and displayed on board. Then this value can be checked at third party testing for veryfication

Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#19
2017-Mar-02 1:40 PM

Got my own issues with VW.

Offer to show them (with NDA) a new technology EV driveline with less than half the friction, 1/2 the weight, 1/2 the cost - & better performance and handling.

Their response? "Come back when you've got a patent"

My response? - "It is not in VWs interest to remain ignorant of potentially significant automotive technological developments" - and to VW directors - "Your IP counsel is not working for VW. They are working for the patent attorney industry"

Re: VW Scandal: When Good Engineers Do the Wrong Thing
#25
2017-Mar-05 5:33 PM

The action to avoid the test was unethical.

It would seem like the action to take should have been to question the EPA standards.

Their NOx standards may be impractical and/or not needed.

A % of exhaust instead of the European g/km may be penalizing more efficient vehicles.

An environmental engineer in Oregon once told me that an existing spec for a different chemical was 6 parts per billion and it was like trying to find a golf ball in all of New York's skyscrapers.

The EPA standards were not from a tablet from Moses and deserve review.

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