THE Volkswagen emission scandal may open a whole new can of worms in the automotive industry. It was discovered that on certain turbo-diesel Volkswagen models, the car would emit 40 times over the legal limit of Nitrogen Oxide when driven normally, but when tested on a lab it passed with flying colors. Apparently, the engine control unit (ECU) of the Volkswagen can detect when it is being tested for emissions and adjusts the engine accordingly so that it will appear very clean and green.
Today’s modern diesels have been gaining a reputation of being very fuel efficient and powerful, that in Europe, more than 50 percent of car sales are already diesels.
Unlike gasoline engines, diesel engines do not have a throttle valve, it is always wide open and what regulates the engine speed is the air-fuel ratio. At idle the air-fuel ratio of a diesel is like 50:1 and full power is like 15:1 (these are ball park figures). Thus, less fuel equals less power and less pollution. In a modern diesel engine, the metering of this fuel is controlled by the ECU. Hence, manipulating emission readings is easy and can be programmed into the software.
Volkswagen got caught because of a small study group that wanted to promote diesel cars in the US used a Volkswagen and another car brand for its study, where with the Volkswagen the road data did not match the lab data.
The consequences of this scandal are going to be huge as it is estimated that there are 11 million Volkswagen vehicles that were programmed this way. Fixing the emission would be as easy as uploading a new software. The problem will be how much performance will be lost? I believe a huge chunk of the horsepower will disappear, making the car completely different. This makes it a problem that a recall cannot fix. Owners may want to return their cars. Fines, civil liability and criminal liability are also other things that Volkswagen may have to face.
Although other car manufacturers claim that they do not employ such trickery on their vehicles, I find it hard to believe that it is only Volkswagen doing such a thing. An internal combustion engine will always be an internal combustion engine. Horsepower and torque is directly derived from the amount of air and fuel that could be pumped in, ignited, and pumped out of the engine. In order to reach the power levels these modern diesel engines make, a lot of air-fuel mix goes through these engines and, therefore, this potentially pollutes more. I’m pretty sure this scandal is just the tip of the iceberg. Other manufacturers may fall. Let’s wait and see.
TRACK DAY. I was invited to San Carlos City for a “Track Day” where a drag strip was set up so that we could test the viability of holding drag races in San Carlos City. Our Cebu group met the Bacolod Group and we liked what we saw. The City of San Carlos has a good cemented road right in front of the City Hall that can be closed for racing events. It is right in the heart of the City and could draw a crowd of spectators. Moreover, the surrounding areas are empty lots, making lots of room for the spectators. The area is also good for Autocross and Rallycross.
Apart from car racing, the Local Government also wants to host motorcycle racing, which is the biggest crowd drawer nowadays. They want to host a race as early as Nov. 7 this year, just in time for their fiesta. This event will attract racers from Iloilo, Negros Occidental and Oriental and Cebu.
The future of motorsports in the Visayas is just getting brighter and brighter.