Despite Barra’s Denials, GM Diesel Test Results Indicate VW-Style Cheating

DUHzafiraWEB

We’ve suspected for some time that more automakers would be caught up in the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal, and the first new perpetrator has apparently been identified: General Motors. GM CEO Mary Barra’s insists that VW-style software cheating on emissions tests “is not a condition that exists in our vehicles,”  but the German environmental group Umwelthilfe has sponsored tests that throw that claim into serious doubt [English press release in PDF format here].

In testing of the Opel Zafira 1.6 CDTi, performed at the Bern University of Applied Sciences, GM’s diesel engine passed NEDC cycle NOx tests performed on a two-wheel (single-axle) rolling road but emitted two to four times the Euro6 limit for NOx when the same test was performed on a four-wheel rolling road. This strongly indicates that a software “test mode” exists for this engine, although Opel insists that “The software developed by GM does not contain any features that can detect whether the vehicle is being subjected to an emissions test.” But, says International Transport Advisor Axel Friedrich,  “I have no normal, technically plausible explanation for the emission behavior of the Opel vehicle.”

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Behind The Volkswagen Scandal, A “Car Cold War” Simmers

The still-unfolding Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal has earned the largest German automaker more than a week of public opprobrium in the US media, as American owners, regulators and commentators rush to condemn the most blatant case of regulatory evasion in recent automotive history. In Europe, however, the outrage at VW’s emissions manipulation is tempered by a certain amount of realpolitik. French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron has given voice to European suspicions by suggesting that American automakers are fueling the scandal for competitive purposes, and German officials have made it clear that they intend to “contain” the scandal. Grievances over auto industry issues have long been a source of friction between President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the Volkswagen scandal has brought tensions old and new spilling out into the open.

 

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EU new car market goes sideways again

Tuscany - Picture courtesy nationalgeographic.com

After showing signs of life in March and April, the EU new car market went back to going sideways in the month of May. Across the EU, registrations were up a paltry 1.3 percent to 1,109,893 units, Europe’s manufacturer association ACEA reports. [Continue Reading]

Europe’s new car sales April: The awakening

Germany - Picture courtesy media.gotraffic.net

The European new car market is coming back from the near-dead. April passenger vehicle registrations in the EU were up 6.9% to 1,166,482 units, says the European Automobile Manufacturers Association ACEA, and it adds that this was “the best result in terms of volume for the month of April since 2009.” Four months into the year, new passenger car registrations increased by 8.2 percent. [Continue Reading]

EU new passenger vehicle registrations up strongly in March, except for GM

Autobahn - Picture courtesy deviantart.net

March is the most important car buying moths in many parts of Europe, and car sales finally are in full bloom in the EU. New car registrations were up 10.6 percent in March, when compared to the same month in the prior year by the European auto manufacturer association ACEA. Finally, the rise is broad-based, and no longer the simple statistical effect it was until recently. [Continue Reading]

EU car sales are up, longterm, the market is trending down

Next exit Andorra

Next exit Andorra

February new car registrations are out, published by EU auto manufacturer umbrella organization ACEA. EU passenger car registrations were up 7.3 percent for the month, again mostly driven by a re-awakening South (Spain +26.1 percent, Italy +13.2 percent). Germany (+6.6 percent) and France (+4.5 percent) finally show a little life. [Continue Reading]

GM Korea: The Twilight Empire

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
‘My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away ~Shelley, “Ozymandias”

Ed note: Jordan Terry of Stone Street Advisors recently asked me on Twitter what I thought of the “bad” situation at GM Korea, noting that it seemed “underreported.” Having written about the subject in the past at TTAC, that was hardly a surprise: not much hard reporting comes out of GM’s “International Operations” black box. That said, there is a broader context here that is underreported, and which I will try to lay out here…

General Motors Korea, formerly GM-Daewoo, has been a key design, engineering and export hub for GM’s global empire since the early 2000s. Specializing in smaller cars, developed and produced at lower price points than GM’s European Opel division, GM Korea was the main conduit for many of GM’s developing-market efforts, as well as the “home room” for many global products. For the perennially small-car- and cost-challenged GM, Korea was the key to offering affordable small cars for export to developed markets like the US and Europe in complete form, as well as in the form of CKD kits for developing market operations like GM Uzbekistan and GM Egypt.

But GM Korea’s long-term problems with union unrest, currency volatility and domestic market sales declines are catching up to it, creating a financial crisis just as it becomes increasingly expendable to the GM Mothership. GM’s deep alliance with China’s SAIC Motors has made GM Korea all but irrelevant to its strategy, and as The General plots its increasingly China-centric future it’s clear that Korea is losing out. With the loss of key export markets and future development work, GM’s once-crucial Korean empire is fading into obscurity and financial woes.

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EU new car market runs out of steam in November, self-registrations and discounts very high

Picture courtesy 1zoom.me

The big European turn-around that appeared to finally have collected enough courage in the past two months, already ran out of steam in November. Sales across the EU were up a mere 1.4 percent in November, Europe’s manufacturer association ACEA reports. What little growth there is more or less goes on account of Mediterranean countries where new cars sales pretty much had come to a halt last year during the financial crisis. [Continue Reading]