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Source: Fotolia / cunaplus

Immediately after the VW affair was brought to light, Minister Dobrindt set up a Commission of Inquiry. It is headed by State Secretary Odenwald and started its work on 22 September 2015. It consists of experts from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) and representatives of the scientific community.

Initiator of the Commission of Inquiry

  • Federal Minister Dobrindt

Head of the Commission of Inquiry

  • State Secretary Odenwald (BMVI)

Members from the BMVI

  • Mr Zielke
  • Dr Albrecht
  • Mr Redmann

Members from the Federal Motor Transport Authority

  • Mr Zinke, President of the KBA
  • Mr Wummel

Scientific community

  • Prof Dr Wachtmeister, TU Munich, Chair of Internal Combustion Engines
  • The commission is examining whether the VW vehicles in question were built and tested within the existing German and European provisions and whether this was done in conformity with vehicle licensing rules.
  • The commission started its work on 22 September 2015.

The Commission of Inquiry published its report on 22 April 2016.

Measures already taken

Mandatory recall and technical solutions for VW diesel-engined vehicles affected

  • Based on the talks between the Commission of Inquiry and VW, the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) had called on the Volkswagen group to present further mandatory measures and a time schedule by 7 October. This happened within the specified period in 2015.
  • After that, the KBA ordered the compulsory recall of all diesel models concerned of the Volkswagen group and its brands in a letter dated 15 October 2015. VW has to make sure the vehicles are in a condition that is in accordance with the regulations.
  • In Germany this affects a total of approximately 2.4 million motor vehicles. The distribution of these vehicles is as follows:

VW brandNumber of vehicles
Total2,460,876
Volkswagen (including VW commercial vehicles))1,537,896
Audi531,813
Seat104,197
Skoda286,970

Immediate action

As an immediate action for the targeted prevention of unlawful defeat devices in vehicles, the KBA was instructed to request a declaration from manufacturers stating whether they are using engine protectors or not before they issue a type approval. This action is to be carried out with immediate effect. In cases where manufacturers are using engine protectors, for each case they will have to provide a full description of the software’s function to the KBA as well as the effect and the reasons for which they believe the use of such a device is necessary. The KBA will carry out a detailed review for every individual case.

Re-testing of diesel vehicles of other manufacturers

  • At the end of September 2015, the KBA, as the competent authority, was instructed to not confine their investigation into the possible use of unlawful defeat devices to VW only, but to include diesel cars of other domestic and international manufacturers as well. The KBA then included relevant "Euro 5" and "Euro 6" diesel vehicles on the market in its field test. The starting point of the investigation was the search for unlawful defeat devices like those used in the case of Volkswagen. For this purpose, 56 tests on 53 diesel models were carried out.
  • Opel’s over 100-page long statement is still being reviewed. It includes complex technical and legal questions which require thorough scrutiny.

Recalls

  • The authorizations of the recalls will be issued when it can be proven that the vehicles are in conformity with the approved type in all matters.
    The general principle is: The recall is mandatory. Vehicles that are not retrofitted can be taken off the road.
  • To examine the updates of the affected vehicle types, they have been categorized based on engine type, type of engine control unit, performance level and gearbox design (e.g. Audi's A4, A5, A6 and Q5 models' 2.0 litre-diesel engines). With the support of independent technical services, the KBA is conducting tests for each of these groups. The statutory type approval testing for pollutant emissions, fuel consumption or CO2 emissions, torque and engine power as well as noise emissions had to be demonstrated again.

The general principle is:

  • VW must fulfil all of the conditions imposed by the Commission of Inquiry and the KBA. Deviations will not be accepted. This also means that there must not be any disadvantages for the customers. VW has guaranteed that there will not be any deteriorations in fuel consumption, CO2 emissions or engine power after the retrofitting and that all vehicle values relevant for the type approval will remain unchanged.

Evolution of testing procedures

  • Since 2011, Germany has lobbied at European level for the introduction Real Driving Emissions Tests, i.e. to measure real driving emissions on the road.
  • Following the German initiative, the EU states have agreed on details concerning the RDE test procedures. The European Parliament has now adopted this and the regulations on RDE will enter into force across the EU in 2017.
  • The BMVI supports the development of the WLTP ("Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure") as well as the revision of the corresponding administrative provisions.
  • The objective is to use the WLTP to improve test methods. It contains a new and more dynamic driving cycle which is based on representative real driving statistics. Furthermore, the corresponding test procedures and parameters have been fundamentally revised.

CO2 studies

The Commission of Inquiry’s investigation focused on searching for unlawful defeat devices used in diesel vehicles in the same way they were used in the Volkswagen case and on determining NOx test values. The results have been published in the overall report of the Commission of Inquiry. Federal Minister Dobrindt made clear that the Commission of Inquiry will remain in place and pursue additional evidence, such as in the Fiat and Opel cases.

  • Conspicuous CO2 values measured during the NOx tests of the 53 vehicles are currently being investigated separately by the KBA. These investigations include 30 vehicles. They have not yet been completed.
  • As announced by Federal Minister Dobrindt, the results will be published in a separate CO2 report including a description of the test protocol and an assessment of individual results.

Further planned measures

  • Federal Minister of Transport Alexander Dobrindt has announced a comprehensive package of measures with regard to future approval procedures. This includes among others:

    • Unannounced vehicle tests carried out by the KBA on in-house test facilities, comparable to doping tests. For this purpose, the KBA will receive its own testing technology.
    • A proposal has been submitted to the European Commission to amend the relevant European Regulation (Article 5 of Regulation (EC) No 715/2007) and include the use of state-of-the-art exhaust emission control system technology as a mandatory quality feature.
    • Rotation of the technical inspection services for manufacturers.

Recall and service action

Authorizations to retrofit vehicles within the context of the compulsory recall

The obligatory recall of 2.4 million diesel vehicles of the VW group is underway. All the necessary authorizations have been issued by the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA).

Evolution of testing procedures

RDE

  • Since 2011, Germany has lobbied at European level for the introduction of Real Driving Emissions tests, i.e. for measuring real driving emissions on the road.
  • Following the German initiative, the EU states have agreed on details concerning RDE test procedures. The European Parliament has now adopted this, and the regulations on RDE will enter into force across the EU in 2017.
  • The BMVI supports the development of the WLTP ("Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure") as well as the revision of the corresponding administrative provisions.
  • The objective is to use the WLTP to improve test methods. It contains a new and more dynamic driving cycle which is based on representative real driving statistics. Furthermore, the corresponding test procedures and parameters have been fundamentally revised.

WLTP

The Worldwide Harmonized Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) for determining exhaust emissions is to ensure that more realistic data on the fuel consumption of passenger cars and light commercial vehicles are available in the future. The WLTP, which was developed by expert groups of the United Nations - mainly under German chairmanship -, will substitute the outdated New European Driving Cycle (NEDC). In addition to that, the corresponding laboratory procedures have been fundamentally revised and most of the flexibility that manufacturers have been enjoying so far has been abolished. For instance, with the WLTP, the CO2 value will be determined based on the particular vehicle being tested, i.e. the individual vehicle equipment will be considered.

In the context of the approval process for new vehicle types, automotive manufacturers will be obliged to apply the WLTP to passenger cars and light commercial vehicles that are similar to passenger cars (N1 of category I) to determine the pollutant and CO2 values, the fuel consumption as well as the electric range of electrified vehicles, starting as early as September 2017. From September 2018, the WLTP will also apply to the new registration of passenger cars and commercial vehicles similar to passenger cars.

The objective is that the WLTP helps to close the generally existing gap between the values determined during type approval and the real fuel consumption as far as possible. However, the real fuel consumption will continue to be determined considerably by individual determinants that usually result in a higher fuel consumption. Among these determinants are the way a specific vehicle is used as well as the driver’s individual driving style.

CO2 studies

  • The Commission of Inquiry’s investigation focused on searching for prohibited defeat devices used in diesel vehicles similar to those used in the Volkswagen case and on determining NOx test values. The results were published in the overall report of the Commission of Inquiry. Federal Minister Dobrindt made clear that the Commission of Inquiry will remain in place and pursue additional evidence, such as in the Fiat and Opel cases.
  • Conspicuous CO2 values measured during the NOx tests of the 53 vehicle types are currently being investigated separately by the KBA. These investigations include 30 vehicles.
  • As announced by Federal Minister Dobrindt, the results will be published in a separate CO2 test report.

Further measures

  • The KBA now has its own portable emission measuring technology (PEMS devices). A KBA testing laboratory will be established. In addition, a test ground will be set up for KBA-run test drives on the runway of a former airport of the Federal Armed Forces in the municipality of Leck (Schleswig-Holstein). With this, a further step has been taken to conduct even more effective checks to prevent exhaust gas manipulations.
  • In the testing laboratory and on the test track, the KBA will conduct checks similar to doping tests. Here, vehicles will be checked without prior announcement; they will be taken directly from the production site or from rental car companies (vehicles of end consumers will not be checked). In the past, the KBA exclusively commissioned technical inspection services with performing technical exhaust gas inspections. As a reaction to the VW exhaust gas scandal, the Federal Minister of Transport, Alexander Dobrindt, had announced the establishment of government-run test beds.
  • Furthermore, the BMVI welcomes that the European Parliament is in favour of stricter rules for type approval. The BMVI demands that the exhaust gas tests at European level be tightened further. Federal Minister of Transport, Alexander Dobrindt, presented this demand in front of the Committee of Inquiry:

The future European inspection standards for new type approvals have to be based on the latest state of technology. Under the current legal regime (Art.5 of EU Directive 715/2007), the worst engineer with the worst engine can make use of the widest exemptions for engine protection reasons. We need a European preparatory dispute settlement body that, in the case of disagreement between the national licensing authorities, decides on whether defeat devices are permissible to be used for reasons of engine protection.