This is not a problem with regulation.
This is a problem with humans. Some will always try to break the rules, and take risks, no matter what the system. The best systems are the ones that recognize this and have ways of self correcting.
In this case if there was a magical device that measured actual pollutants in every car sold, through out it's life, and could be easily and inexpensively checked annually so that the owner had to pay a tax on excess pollution (or even better, a market price for total pollution), the regulation would be easy.
Automakers could claim whatever they wanted, rig whatever tests they chose, but it would become very clear in real world usage that they had done so. And their brands would be murdered if they got a reputation for lying.
Sure, other systems can have similar problems, but that's no excuse.
But no matter what scheme we propose, I do worry that this would become an adversarial "gaming" situation a bit like hackers vs DRM -- no matter what the rules/criteria to reduce dangerous emissions, manufacturers will employ people specifically to circumvent them in any and all ways possible. This isn't to say we should stop trying to curb emissions -- just that they must be ongoing and open to change and adaptation to new "attack vectors".
I wouldn't call it 'rigged tests', it's more like they optimize the system under test to meet the spec. It probably happens everywhere, not only in cars. The behavior of your fridge, AC or any other hardware is probably optimized in weird ways just to meet Energy Star etc.
You would do so wrongly. In these cases, like VW, the car is programmed specifically to detect when it is being tested, and lower emissions. They aren't optimizing to test spec, they are cheating. There's no other word for it.
For example, commercial compilers are often written to specifically detect and rewrite idioms/code in oft-used benchmarks (that aren't common to the real world), etc
They aren't cheating, they are just making the test worthless by optimizing it.
They still shouldn't do it, but it's super-common.
Every car comes with an oxygen sensor, which could be used to infer how much NOx is being emitted. So, the solution may actually just mean a standardized little microcontroller that reports directly through the ODB port on how much oxygen has been in the exhaust. If it's sufficiently simple it shouldn't be beatable.
I have been a member of the ISO committee that standardized ODB-II and related stuff. I remember the representative of one OEM suggesting that they expected at least California to require emissions testing in real-world conditions at some point. This was about 15 years ago.
There was the expectation that in the future the vehicle bus would have a short-range wireless gateway so that you can link the brakeing systems together of cars in a road train. With this in place a country could set up roadside boxes to read out the current emissions values.
With the change in usage of mobile phones over that time you could pick a different mechanism today.
I guess you still have the issue of potentially needing to prevent cheating, the OBD-II PID values are in a sense "translated" from the OEM specific data on the CAN bus.
A deeper point to ponder: Is that really a problem, or is it just life and the way it should be? Would trying to "fix" this "problem" only result in a more dystopian, authoritarian society with more government control?
This is probably going to sound quite controversial, but I've never been a fan of such emissions regulations. The argument that emissions effects everyone is true, but IMHO besides the point: After all, the best way to not "pollute" the planet is to just not live at all.
I do have an interest in car modding/tuning so I may be slightly biased... but to summarise, I'd much rather die from pollution than live in a society which doesn't have any personal freedom anymore.
If you were only affecting yourself, most people would be happy to let you. But you're not. You're taking down the rest of us with you.
But odometers aren't magical, they can be turned back. There was a recent scandal/lawsuit where an ex-Ferrari mechanic claimed that Ferrari dealerships were equipped with tools to roll back mileage for their best customers. Example being as the ones who bought Ferrari's elite million dollar cars, so they could drive 10,000 or 20,000 miles and roll them back to 200 miles at sale to sell them "as new".
So regulation still requires a way to detect false measurements at the customer level if it becomes too prevalent.
You'd also need magical devices that force the people who do the readouts and judge cases based on those readouts act honestly, and so on. Why are we talking about magical devices again?
"A typical diesel car emits around 10 times more nitrogen oxides than an equivalent gasoline car."
"Fivefacts about diesel the car industry would rathernot tell you"
PM 2.5 particles which is small particles emitted by diesel vehicles are a cause for preterm births in babies. "
We estimate 2.7–3.4 million preterm births may be associated with PM2.5 exposure in 2010 globally."
"Health experts lambast ‘deceitful’ carmakers as data suggests 97% of vehicles fail to meet NOx emissions standards in real-world conditions".
Diesel is just a means to an end. If it's a fundamentally unsafe technology, then it should go into the dustbin of history, alongside leaded gasoline, lead paint, and asbestos for non-critical purposes. There are other ways to get around; no one needs diesel qua diesel.
BlueTEC is just a marketing term like SSRS ( airbag ).
How can you tell that no one from Fiat is going to be arrested? Isn't that truck diesel developed in the US?
The thing that made me the angriest about VW is how they tried to pin the blame on their engineers when the story first broke.
They are the worst dinosaur -- wasted a decade of R&D on diesels instead of investing in EVs. They actually removed their only hybrid from their 2017 lineup. Their only EV is a rush job with an air cooling system on the battery, which is going to lead to even more class action lawsuits as those start to fail as they did in Nissan Leafs. Audi has their semi-successful PHEV A3 with a sad range but they did nothing to improve it for 2018 (except increase the price).
I've come to loathe them, as have a lot of other VW/Audi owners. It will come back to haunt them.
It really puts the lie as capitalism to being the end-all, be-all solution for innovation. Nope, companies just find local maxima and stay there, and as long as they all stay there and collectively decide not to venture out, they can get stuck there for decades.
GM produces very high quality EVs and PHEVs that are available right now at a reasonable price. They are just being cautious about producing them in volume. Same with LG Chem and battery supplies (the two likely tied together) That could change in a few quarters if they sense the time is right.
Personally, I'd love it if GM would hit it out of the ballpark. More likely that they aren't even going to hit the minimum.
Regarding rolling coal:
Deisel is not currently attractive as you need to either hobble the engine or spend more on urea. Of course, hobbling the engines in all cars would be a good idea- you only need like 40 horsepower to do 80 mph. Base model cars have 200 horsepower just because it's more fun.
But yeah, you're right. From a strictly technical POV consumers don't need all the power they have now.
Cars are stupid anyways. The sheer amount of land paved over in asphalt in order to feed the beast of driving is just insane. At the macro level it does not seem like an effective use of resources.
Another aspect of it is that the carbon emissions tend to be lower than for an equivalent petrol engine, which is (part of) the reason why various tax incentives were put in place in Europe to favour diesel. They've mostly been rolled back now, but the carbon emission gap and the fuel economy remain.
But that was before we found out everybody was cheating on the emissions.
Although, of course, even hybrids aren't good enough in the long run; we need to stop digging up and burning buried carbon, full stop. Electric cars do that. Hybrids and efficient diesels do not. Electric cars are a workable final solution that results in a planet that remains livable; hybrids and diesels are not. They don't destroy the planet quite as quickly, but the destination is still the same.
Even Mercedes haven't got close to schedule they promised (they are a decade late), let alone Chrysler's less premium brands.
Commercial vehicles are going to push far more emissions out, with far more miles/running hours/idle hours and older standards (i.e. you will have a 40 year spread of commercial vehicles on the road).
And I don't think every company is breaking the rules. Letting the scofflaws off sends exactly the wrong signal to the companies that made sacrifices (in price or performance) to stay within the law.
You're trying to compare this to jaywalking or something, but it isn't. Laws are passed by and for the benefit of all of humanity, so you must look at the entire group of all people. You can't just narrow it down to automobile manufacturers and say that if they all do it it's right, because there is more to society than automobile manufacturers!
Besides... This rule is not crippling. These companies absolutely could have met emissions just by keeping the engine in test mode. Not only that, but they could have just not made deisel cars. They broke the law because they didn't want to settle for a tiny inconvenience, in a market they didn't need to be in, selling cars to people who would have gotten a gas car if they had to. The sheer arrogance necessary to convince themselves to blatantly cheat on an emissions test (by detecting test conditions and gimping the engine) is staggering.