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VW to Switch Diesel Technology, Refocus on EVs; California Sets Fix Date

VW to Switch Diesel Technology, Refocus on EVs; California Sets Fix Date

By Philly Murtha, October 14, 2015


This week, Volkswagen Division CEO Herbert Diess said in a statement that the automaker will revamp its diesel engine program and switch as soon as possible to installing Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) advanced active emissions control technology systems in its passenger vehicles. The brand also will refocus on developing new plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles.

In addition, at the end of last week, VW was given a deadline of November 20, 2015 to come up with a plan to fix diesel cars with the defeat device, according to a representative of the California Air Resources Board (CARB). In the meantime, California regulators are continuing to test diesel cars produced by other automakers, and CARB will publish results in the next few months, Reuters reports.

2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI photo

In Wolfsburg, Germany, VW’s Diess said the board has initiated plans to cut capital spending by one billion euros ($1.1 billion) annually as it deals with the faulty diesel emissions test scandal that will mean fixing software and replacing diesel emissions control systems on as many as 11 million diesel-powered cars so they comply with European and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. The diesel emissions cheating that Volkswagen admitted to last month could cost the company 35 billion euros ($39.87 billion) in fines, lawsuits, and other costs, the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper reports.

Cleaner SCR diesel emissions technology is VW’s choice for new systems because it injects a special agent such as urea (known as diesel exhaust fluid or DEF) through a catalyst into the exhaust stream of a diesel engine. This sets off a chemical reaction to convert NOx (nitrogen oxides) into nitrogen, water, and tiny amounts of CO2, which are expelled through the tailpipe. SCR is one of the most cost-effective and fuel-efficient technologies to help reduce diesel engine emissions, according to the Diesel Technology Forum.

Heavy-duty commercial trucks already use the system. For cars, DEF needs to be replaced, usually around the time of an oil change. On-board tanks of DEF are typically stored in the spare tire area of vehicles, but may need to be fitted underneath the body in a car because of the fluid’s corrosive nature. The estimated cost of a retrofit, replacement parts, and labor would be at least $2,500 and might not even meet EPA standards, according to experts at thetruthaboutcars.com.

On the future front, VW officials said the German carmaker plans to refocus on developing plug-in hybrids with a range of 300 kilometers (186.4 miles) using a 48-volt power-supply system. Looking further ahead, the board determined to make the next Phaeton, slated to be reintroduced in 2018 or 2019, an all-electric flagship vehicle to demonstrate “long-distance capability, connectivity, and next-generation driver-assistance technologies.” Also on the drawing board is creating a new Modular Electric (MEB) toolkit that can be used in compact passenger cars and light commercial vehicles.

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