OT: Volkswagen

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Benito wrote:

responsible. He must go to jail and serve hard time and become convict.
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Per Tony Hwang:

True, but you and I know he will not, right?
--
Pete Cresswell

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(PeteCresswell) wrote:

loss of lives. GM and Toyota ignored issues. At least VW problem did not kill but they cheated on purpose.
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Per Tony Hwang:

There was an interesting article in the May 4th New Yorker that explored automobile recalls and non-recalls from an engineer's perspective.
My takeaway: the news media's gross oversimplification of stories about automobile defects/recalls borders on demagoguery/disinformation.
The article is now online at http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/05/04/the-engineers-lament
My latest fantasy of what I'd do if I had beau coups bucks is that:
First: I'd hire a bunch of experts to develop five curricula for courses in "Critical Thinking": Grade School, Junior High School, High School, Community College, and College.
Second: I'd hire the same guys that the Koch Brothers use to disinformationalize topics like global warming to legitimize those curricula and get them recognized as part of the basic teacher/student learning regimen along with math, English, science, and so-forth
Third: I'd start grass-roots organizations dedicated to getting those curricula into schools.
--
Pete Cresswell

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On 9/23/2015 5:54 PM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

I'd *start* with the journalists! For whatever reason (bad training, market forces, etc.) *they* seem to have "checked out" completely wrt "critical thinking"! Cripes, you hear the sort of reports they make and interview questions they ask and have to wonder: do these people know how to connect dots?? Make inferences? Generate original thought??
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On 9/23/2015 7:22 PM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

Yeah, but he got caught. He had to quit and at his age, he may only have enough money to to have to get by with his yacht and only one vacation home.
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On 9/23/2015 4:22 PM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

As I do these sort of things for a living, it's hard to imagine that any "non-garage-shop" organization would have a "lone wolf" who could implement (and subsequently *hide*) this sort of implementation.
Typically, you have "code reviews" where your peers (perhaps even from other groups in the organization, "safety", "legal", etc. look through what you've done with a critical eye: - how have you addressed contingency X - what if Y proves to be untrue - how do we verify your code operates AS SPECIFIED - how do we BREAK it
While it's conceivable that the engineers will know how the "quality" guys will eventually do their emissions certification at "sell off", will they also know how this is done post-sale?
Did the guy/guys who wrote the nefarious code "move on" to some other job? If so, has NO ONE ever looked at it, again? (unlikely!) If so, how was the portion of the code that effectively disables the emission controls NOT detected? I.e., as a maintenance engineer, you would have access to the actual source code. You can see what the code is actually *doing*. And, any description (commentary) about *why* it is doing those things. You'd have to be incredibly inept not to notice something fishy.
That suggests the perpetrator(s) remained on hand to maintain the deception?
In "stock car" racing, one of the requirements is that the engine must not be "modified" from the original factory specifications. In fact, engines are *frequently* modified -- though always left "within specifications". And, made to look as if they were originally manufactured exactly as such!
This practice is grey area, at best. *Technically*, a car could come off the assembly line *exactly* as the modified car exists (AFTER MODIFICATION). The sleaziness comes in the fact that the owner has rigged that "random lottery" -- instead of waiting for a car with a particular set of characteristics to drop into his lap, he's taken a "random" car and tweaked it to *be* that "exception".
Lots of people are complicit in these acts. While technically disallowed, it could be argued that it is entirely within the *spirit* of the rules!
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Per Don Y:

Same here - only in software development instead of automobiles.
But I was not thinking in terms of a Lone Wolf.... more in terms of "Everybody within a certain manager's scope".
--
Pete Cresswell

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On 9/24/2015 10:39 AM, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

I could see designing a control algorithm that lent itself to an implementation whereby a single module could encapsulate all of this information (and misbehavior). But, I can't see how that module would remain opaque. Even things as fundamental/basic as math libraries get routine scrutiny.
How do you guard against the guys in Quality changing their test procedures? "We've found a new way to test these subsystems for regulatory compliance! It will save the company $X! We'll all get big bonuses!!"
"No! Don't do that! You can't!!"
"WTF?? Why not?"
"Um..... (let me think for a while...)"
Is the same powerplant used in ALL of these vehicles? I.e., so that code ("ROMs") from one vehicle can be dropped into any of the others and have no noticeable consequences? Chances are, that's not the case. Other eyes have to, eventually, see the same details that expose the problem... Too many cars, too many years and probably too many staff members to rule that out!
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On Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 7:22:46 PM UTC-4, (PeteCresswell) wrote:

Add to that list of orders the EPA ordering higher pollution standards and Congress ordering every higher arbitrary CAFE standards. The latter has already lead to some bad things that we're all paying for. As an example, BMW is using a complex variable speed radiator fan, instead of a simple one speed one, to save some energy. The downside is the variable speed fan has electronics in the fan which goes in the worst possible environment. Consequently they fail frequently, cost $450 and are difficult to replace.
Another example is BMW has gone to mostly or only charging the battery when the car is coasting. That's lead to the need to register the new battery with the car computer, meaning you can longer just go the local auto parts store to get it replaced. Not sure I buy that, maybe they did the battery registration thing to sell you the battery themselves, but it's what BMW claims, ie that the computer needs to know that there is a new battery and it's characteristics. Even better, this charging while coasting apparently results in the batteries not being charged enough, putting strain on the batteries. So much so that with their flagship twin turbo V8, they now call for a new battery to be put in at every oil change. Fortunately they cover that under the maintenance for new vehicles, but after that, you're gonna pay. Problem that makes it worse for those cars is they have a cooling system that stays on after the car is shut off to cool the turbos down. Between that and only charging while coasting, the batteries get screwed fast.
I'm sure there are plenty of other examples like that, where car manufacturers are squeezing .001 MPG out of something. So, collectively we wind up getting a couple MPG more, but paying 10x what we save on gas in increased upfront costs and maintenance costs.
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On 9/24/2015 4:45 AM, trader_4 wrote:

Sounds like bad engineering, to me. No reason the electronics *need* to be in the fan. They *chose* to put them in the fan, trading installation/manufacturing costs for repair costs. Buyers *see* the manufacturing costs (in the price of the vehicle) but don't see the repair costs -- until they've made the purchase.

Does the battery come with characterization data that is somehow conveyed to the ECU at installation? Or, does the ECU *learn* the characteristics of the battery at/after installation? In the latter case, there's no reason the ECU can't learn the characteristics of a non-BMW-supplied battery -- so long as the replacement was made to the same standards as the BMW replacement.
I looked at a company that made medical instruments. Their instrument required distilled water as part of its process. So, the company sold distilled water in special (expensive) cartridges. Do they think a lab doesn't have access to distilled water from other, cheaper sources? Does HP think folks can't find printer ink from other sources of equal quality??
Battery cable disconnected -- then reconnected: initiate new battery characterization procedure. (yawn)

Twin turbo. Obviously designed to be fuel efficient vehicle, right? Sort of like my neighbor's 'vette?
They're pinching pennies on battery charging -- but throwing in all sorts of electronics that drivers don't want or use (automatic parking systems, navigation, fancy audio systems, in-vehicle internet routers, web browsers, etc.). Adding weight for features that have little value to many users -- yet requiring them to be *standard* (moonroofs, power liftgates. power seats, power windows, etc.). Headlights that stay on *after* you've exited the vehicle?
If they were *so* concerned with MPG, they'd bias their fleet offerings towards products that didn't carry all this extra weight around or extra electronics, etc. Instead of educating their customers as to why these features are NOT present, they're piling on even more and trying to pitch them to their customers as if they were "essential". (and, in many cases, not giving the customer the option of eliding them!)

I recall doing tuneups *frequently* back in the 70's. And oil changes. And replacing mufflers, wires, plugs, caps, rotors, coolant, belts, hoses, etc. Most of those activities have been made far less frequent.
Folks in Calif might notice some differences in the color of the air they breathe in the decades since then!
Our last vehicle cost us just over $1,000 in maintenance/repairs over the course of the 13 years that we drove it -- and most of that was for new rubber. It wasn't uncommon to drop that sort of money into a single repair on an "earlier vintage" vehicle!
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On 9/24/2015 9:32 AM, Don Y wrote:

May or may not be that simple. Some cars lose the radio anti-theft code and it has to be reset. Many shops will plug a battery into the cigarette lighter socket to give the car power while the battery is swapped out.

Rated at 29 MPG Highway, it is better than many Grandpa type sedans.
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On 9/24/2015 7:49 AM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Push trip odometer button for 30 seconds. Turn key to on position for 30 seconds. Then, off for 20. Then on for 10. Etc. There are lots of ways to tell a computer that is already watching lots of buttons and sensors that it should initiate a characterization cycle -- WITHOUT adding a dedicated "characterize battery now" button (which costs money).

And the need for an 8 an twin turbos is because...?
The problem car manufacturers face is one of a mismatch between what customers appear to want and what "regulations" are driving. In Europe, cars tend to be smaller and more fuel efficient. You don't see HumVee's, oversized pickups with dualies, etc. Fuel is more expensive (and taxes different) so folks *prefer* the more efficient vehicles. Look at how the US auto market changes when fuel prices are headed north of $4-5. Then, how quickly they change back when they fall. By comparison, prices there tend to be *double* what they are, here. And, this has been the case for a long time -- not just a "blip" that comes and goes (as it does, here).
[I think they pay close to $10/G in the UK, currently -- while we're hovering at/about $2.50/G]
Think about how your vehicle purchasing and driving decisions would be affected if *you* were paying $10/G. Sure, you might own a nice gas guzzler -- but, would let it sit in the garage most of the time while you drove your "SmartCar" around town! :>
"Twin Turbo V8"? Yeah, it's in the garage. Wanna see it?
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Not really, but here in The Colorado Rockies, a turbo or s-charged engine helps. The main hwy going east/west thru CO (70) passes thru the Eisenhower Tunnel a 13.5K ft. If you don't wanna be doing 25 mph in 2nd gear, a turbo/SC engine helps. ;)

So why have small cars been getting even less mileage, lately. My '87 Honda Civic hatchback Si got 38 mpg and my ancient used diesel Rabbit ('70s?) got almost 40 mpg. Now, cars are bragging on 29-30 mpg. What's up with that?
nb
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Probably because today's Civic weighs 800 pounds more.
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I suspected as much. All those electric windows, mirrors, seats, air-bags, EDRs, etc, no doubt. Mine had no such dead weight.
nb
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On 9/24/2015 11:36 AM, notbob wrote:

Exactly. Now, car manufacturers try not to ship spare tires (let alone the undersized "donuts") as a way of saving on weight. To "pay" for all the weight they've put in for unnecessary accessories, higher crash resistance, seating for seven, etc.
There's no *market* pressure to entice consumers to buy more efficient cars. So, the manufacturers are trying to address the legal mandates *and* "customer preferences". You're, in effect, trying to optimize two different (and often incompatible) criteria!
A neighbor from Japan commented that tax/licensing there is designed to encourage consumption (of automobiles). Keeping an "older" car on the road was designed to be economically impractical -- buy new, ship your old car to vietname, laos, etc. There's no real reason to justify the turnover (it isn't intended to introduce safer cars to the market quicker, or more fuel efficient cars, etc.) besides keeping the industrial machine churning -- with the limited population, there.
Some years ago, I discussed a project with a gentleman to manufacture "wildlife cameras". These are essentially unattended cameras that you deploy in the wilderness to track/photograph the movement of wildlife. At the time, they were very expensive ($1K).
As it was a new concept to me, I stated: so, does the gummit use these? Or, wildlife researchers? Or, perhaps, INS folks trying to document/monitor the movement of illegals into the country??
No.
"Folks buy them, deploy them in the wild and then 'trade photos' (like at a monthly club meeting)." -- Oh, look! I got a picture of a raccoon!
"WTF? Is that a real *hobby*?"
"It gives them a reason to take their off-road vehicles OFF THE ROAD (as most folks owning them have never done so!)."
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On Thursday, September 24, 2015 at 3:00:12 PM UTC-4, Don Y wrote:

Another statement of economic ignorance. Consumers react to the price of fuel, how much the cars cost to drive, how many MPG one car gets compared to other vehicle choices. Plus, if you followed the news over the last decades, when the price of gas went way up, the sales of gas hungry vehicles declined, their resale value declined, etc.
So, the manufacturers are trying to address the legal

Sounds like they have some of the same free thinking lib types like you over there. That think one more tweak, one more law, one more forcing of the free market, will fix some imagined problem. "I think every taxi owner should have a new car every year, so that's how it shall be for all!"
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On 9/24/2015 11:19 AM, Don Y wrote:

Speed. Pure speed.
I have a 2L Turbo in my car and while I do drive sanely, I do like acceleration. I'd not need the twin turbos though. As it is, I paid much more for my car than the non-turbo version. I'm buying another one soon, I know exactly what I want and will buy as soon as available.

I hear it all the time that "I need" that huge truck. Europe is quite civilized and built up using much smaller vehicles.

I drove small cars in Europe including a Smart ForFour on one trip. It got me where I wanted to go, just not as much fun or as comfortable. The numbers actually worked out at about the same cost per mile as my USA driving.

At $10/gallon I'd probably change some habits and probably drive a bit less. Right now I put on about 22,000 miles a year with a mid sized car with all the comforts. I could get away with a smaller, more economical vehicle, but I chose not to.
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On 9/24/2015 10:43 AM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Exactly. uel economy, exhaust emissions be damned! :>

Yes. They've learned (due to economic pressures) not to indulge their "need for speed", "need for bigness", etc. They apparently measure their penises with rulers and not tachometers or big (perpetually EMPTY) truck beds.
I have a buddy with a big 7L diesel. It sits in his driveway -- unless it is in the shop! It's simply too inefficient to use. Sure, when he needed a ton of sand for a landscaping project, he was able to haul it in *his* vehicle. Of course, he couldn't *unload* it -- but, that's just a technicality! :>

Despite the fact that fuel is so much more expensive, there!
I've had to entertain business guests from abroad. They invariably look at my car(s) (over the years) and I can almost hear them thinking: "you could fit *my* car in the back seat of this one!" "A 20 gallon gas tank?? Yikes!"

You choose not to because you have a choice. My friend with the 7L truck with 60G expansion fuel tank also makes that choice. But, day to day, he opts to drive his plush Buick. :>
We drive about 6K/year. I took *my* car off the road many years ago simply because I was driving (at that time) less than 1,500 miles per year. With insurance at $600/year, fuel at a few hundred (gas guzzler), the regular battery and tire replacements (heat eats things, here) it was costing me almost $1/mile.
My *current* driving patterns are far less. I'd guesstimate 300 miles annually. And, probably half of that is for volunteer/charitable causes. While I could write off those expenses, it just seems silly to keep a car on the road just to keep it on the road!
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