Lots and lots of VW diesels in a field

It’s not obvious that this is a useful environmental solution. Sure, Volkswagen cheated and lied on those emissions tests from its diesel engines. The why of that we know – it’s impossible to make a cheap diesel engine which meets current emissions standards. We can make expensive diesel engines which meet them, but we can’t make cheap ones which both have the reduced CO2 output from higher fuel efficiency and also meet the NOx emission standards.

It should have been obvious that everyone was cheating because the task at hand just isn’t possible. And as we’ve seen since, everyone has indeed been cheating.

That still gives us the solution, which is to take all of those cheating cars off the road.

Thousands of diesel-powered Volkswagens are parked at Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California. While this facility is known for its airplane graveyard, Volkswagen has leased enough land here to park 21,0000 vehicles.

That image is:

Lots and lots of VW diesels in a field

As an economist points out:

The next time an economist writes TNSTAAFL, or says “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch” … listen.

The point being that we’ve gone off and used up some amount of energy to replace those 21,000 cars. Have produced some amount of pollution in doing so. And it’s not obvious that we’ve saved either energy or pollution through the process. In fact, no one has even tried to calculate whether we have.

Which means we just don’t know if this is a good environmental solution, do we?

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  1. Volkswagen did not violate any law or regulation. It measured the emissions of its vehicles accurately. Only, software in the vehicle guessed that it was being driven by a machine in an emissions lab and adjusted itself for underperformance that would have convinced a real owner never to buy another one. Pursuing one’s own best interest while playing by the rules is not “cheating,” in athletics or carmaking. Of course the rules should have been written better.

    And, no, it’s not about the environment.

    • @Spike
      “… Pursuing one’s own best interest while playing by the rules is not “cheating,” in athletics or carmaking. Of course the rules should have been written better…”


      Exactly what I said from day one.

      • So would liberals stop buying VWs forever if the president of VW had taken my line, versus agreeing to punishments that could certainly not be upheld in a court of law?

        Couldn’t the software, or the entire OBC containing it, be replaced in each car, and the cars retested? Or must these cars be unmade, as Sandy Hook Elementary School had to be demolished to purge the memory of the gun massacre?

        Are there still deodands in US law?

  2. @Tim W

    Yep, not possible at any sensible cost. EU and one would assume USA Gov’t knew it was so, but ignored in an attempt to satisfy motorists and eco-loons.

    Cats & filters post combustion can help lower some emissions, but at a cost of increasing others due to lower efficiency.

    Cats on petrol engines increase fuel consumed, thus lowering mpg by 10%-15%

  3. But diesels do get great fuel economy making them cheaper to drive. We switched our delivery fleet of 6 one-tonners to diesel and despite the much higher servicing costs and shorter servicing intervals, we still saved a bomb. The petrol ones kept on getting hijacked too because the engine fitted perfectly in a minibus taxi.

  4. What an incredible waste of resources. If anyone raises it I will point out this is why we have so much “poverty” in the West – and real poverty in the rest of the world. Look at all that valuable production being thrown away because of the asinine vanity of a small number of Greens.

  5. A niece of mine graduated last year with a first in Geography. I read and commented on her final dissertation (grammar, sense, presentation etc, not the technical content) which was on social geography and majored on green and environmental issues.

    Seemed a load of old tut to me, but I didn’t want to rock the boat or prejudice her grades so hey ho, buttoned my lip and pen and cooed at her brilliance instead.

    Basically, if her ideas were to be adopted IMO we in W Europe are all fvcked, yet she doesn’t see it.

  6. “bloke in spain March 25, 2018 at 5:59 pm
    Always good to see someone channelling Larry Niven.
    Also, in context, see “Fallen Angels””

    SciFi has never appealed so I had to look him up and he seems quite interesting. So if I was going to start to read one SciFi book (I’m easily bored and prepared not to finish ) which SciFi book should I read?

    • Larry Niven is much better at short stories than longer novels but if you wanted to read one I would read Ringworld. The series goes rapidly downhill but the first one is good.

      If you wanted something in SF generally, perhaps Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress? It has been mentioned here.

      It really depends on your personal preferences given SF is a broad Church from leaf-eating lesbian pacifists to hard right Military SF. So it depends on what sort book you usually like. I liked Samuel R. Delany’s Nova but can’t stand most of the rest of his work.

      A good place to start is someone like Poul Anderson although he can be hit and miss. Perhaps People of the Wind or Trouble Twisters