Meet the Engineer Who Exposed Volkswagen's Dieselgate Cheating

Carden Daniel 1 photo
As the consequences of Volkswagen's Dieselgate scandal unfold, we want to take a bit of time to meet the man whose team exposed the German carmaker's cheating.
Meet Daniel Carder, a 45-year old engineer from the West Virginia University (WVU). He is the leader of the team who has conducted the $50,000 study which generated early evidence on VW's cheating on the US vehicle emission tests.

Emission regulators watched standardised test results, believing the pollution parameters were in check. However, Daniel's team of five was approached by nonprofit International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) at the end of 2013, being tasked with performing an independent research.

The ICCT set of to analyze emissions of Volkswagen cars closely after the European Commission's Joint Research Center had shown differences between test and real world results in European diesels. Unnoficial reports suggest both the European Union and the German Government were aware of VW's methods, but failed to take action.

The WVU also tested a BMW, but the vehicle showed reasonable results.

They tested two vehicles, a 2012 Jetta and a 2013 Passat, in both rolling road conditions, as it happens in the EPA tests, as well as in real world conditions. The latter revealed results that were simply off the charts.

One of the cars had emission levels that were between 15 and 35 times above the legal limit, while the other's figures showed the limit had been surpassed by between 10 and 20 times.

The team made the data public, with Volkswagen subsequently talking to them.

With California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) having been noticed by the WVU, Volkswagen told both emission bodies that the issues could be linked to technical problems and unexpected conditions during those particular tests.

However, VW did issue a recall for the 500,000 vehicles that were potentially affected back in December 2014.

Once those cars were reported as fixed by Volkswagen, CARB and EPA conducted follow-up testing in both laboratories and real-world conditions. The results showed the recall had only partially solved the problem.

Back in the summer of this year, CARB and the EPA told Volkswagen they would not issue the certificates of conformity for the carmaker's 2016 model year diesels line-up until the company explained the problem and confirmed that 2016 MY cars do not show similar real world emissions.

Earlier this month, VW admitted its cars had been fitted with a defeat device. This monitored various driving inputs, as well as vehicle parameters and was able to tell when the car was tested on a rolling road, switching the engine management to the faux low-emission mode.

On 18 September 2015, CARB and EPA made the entire story public.

As for what could be done now to ensure the affected vehicles (11 millions worldwide) comply with emission standards, a simple change in the ECU mapping would be enough. Nevertheless, this would determine the cars to return an inferior efficiency compared to what VW advertised.

Daniel has a long history with such automaker trick exposal. He was part of the WVU team that caught a number of commercial vehicle manufacturers aiming to pull a similar move back in 1998.

We'll remind you Martin Winterkorn has resigned as VW CEO following the scandal earlier today, despite claiming no personal wrongdoing. Friday will see VW appoint the head of a special committee for handling the issue, with the rumor mill seeing Porsche CEO Mattias Muller taking the (interim) position of VW CEO.

Image via: vwmetronews
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About the author: Andrei Tutu
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In his quest to bring you the most impressive automotive creations, Andrei relies on learning as a superpower. There's quite a bit of room in the garage that is this aficionado's heart, so factory-condition classics and widebody contraptions with turbos poking through the hood can peacefully coexist.
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