Dieselgate 2.0, the exit scenarios



The dieselgate tsunami sloshed from America to Europe, causing widespread damage. If the allegations of a German environmentalist group hold water, the scandal is about to swash right back to America, and deep into Detroit. GM’s EU subsidiary Opel is being accused of being just as bad as Volkswagen, while using defeat devices in diesel engines used in the company’s Zafira MPV. Will it ever end, and if yes, where?

Ed Niedermeyer already has laid-out to you the drama as it unfolded today. Here just a few notes after coming back from a Japanese onsen:

DUH is a known entity in Germany. The left-leaning group calls for nothing less than an elimination of all diesel-driven cars. In September, DUH claimed to “have detailed indications of illegal exhaust manipulations not only by Volkswagen and Audi, but also by Opel, BMW, and Daimler.” The automakers denied any dieselgate involvement. Daimler even claimed, the DUH “is on a crusade against the auto industry.”

Enviro-political as it may be, the matter is explosive. The Bern Technical College has a high reputation. The report is well-written. It is very unlikely that the scientists described something that did not exist. So how will it go on?

If the report is submitted to the KBA, the agency can hardly sweep it under the rug. The agency’s boss, transport minister Alexander Dobrindt (CSU) has demanded checks of other German and European automakers’ cars. Interestingly, Dobrindt is going on trip to Washington (DC) on Monday, to discuss the diesel scandal in total with SecTrans Anthony Fox. There, a trade could be hashed out, and in the weeks thereafter, a deal could be cut: We won’t completely rough up yours, if you will let live ours.

If no deal, the matter will take its ugly course: The KBA will test the car(s). If the presence of a defeat device is seen, Article 3 of EU regulation 715/2007 comes in effect that says thatThe use of defeat devices that reduce the effectiveness of emission control systems shall be prohibited.”

Ultimately that could lead to a loss of type approvals. In reality, it would mean similar recalls and rework as at Volkswagen. Just like at Volkswagen, the matter could spread to other countries, other cars, and brands, that use the engine. Or, in other words, it could lead to another year, or two, of dieselgate stories.