When Anniken and I moved out of the city center in 2013, we realized we had to get a car. After doing a lot of research and test driving, we eventually settled on an estate model from Škoda, the Superb. The car is a pleasure to drive, very roomy with Vilde’s stroller fitting easily in the back, and the four wheel drive means we can get around pretty much everywhere. In general, the car is, as its name implies, superb, and I’ve recommended it to pretty much everyone who has bothered to listen.
But then Škoda’s parent company, Volkswagen, decided to fuck everything up.
On September 18th this year, it was revealed that Volkswagen had deliberately equipped some of their turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel engine models with computer software designed to activate certain emissions controls only during laboratory emissions testing – a so-called “defeat device”:
“The programming caused the vehicles’ nitrogen oxide (NOx) output to meet U.S. standards during regulatory testing, but produce up to 40 times higher NOx output in real-world driving.” — NPR: Volkswagen Used ‘Defeat Device’ To Skirt Emissions Rules, EPA Says
Long story short: It turned out Volkswagen was using the same computer software in a lot of car models, and not just Volkswagen cars. The software surfaced in models from many of their subsidiaries, including Audi, SEAT, and – Škoda.
You might argue that cheating on an emission test isn’t exactly the worst thing Volkswagen could have done. Perhaps not. But a company that is knowingly misleading their customers about one thing, might not have much of an issue with blatantly lying about other tings as well. I’m just speculating, of course, but it’s a speculation worth doing.
More scams or not, the bottom line is that to keep supporting Volkswagen and driving around in one of their cars is basically the same as saying that it’s OK for them to lie to their customers. And it’s not. So now we’re in the process of selling the Škoda, and is making the move to Ford.
The Ford Mondeo is basically Ford’s version of the Škoda Superb – or maybe it’s the other way around, really. It’s pretty much the same car, except that the Superb is a bit larger, and we’ve gotten very used to the space. But the Mondeo comes equipped with a few more bells and whistles, so I guess this is a case of winning some and losing some.
It’s not like our move away from Volkswagen will make any kind of dent in their financials – the recall and update of all the cars with the defeat device installed will take care of that. But the only real way to get companies the size of Volkswagen to understand that we don’t approve of their ways is to vote with our wallets. So if you feel the same way we do about the way they have treated us, their customers, I urge you to follow suit – get rid of your crooked Volkswagen deal.
But wait! Don’t buy a Ford just yet, there’s a major whoopsie on my part here:
When writing this post, I realized I’ve not done my research properly: It turns out that back in 1998, Ford did basically the same thing that Volkswagen got busted for doing now. They programmed 60,000 1997 Ford Econolines to keep emissions low during laboratory testing.
What the fuck? What the actual fuck?
Seems like the joke is on us: As long as we’re driving a car with a combustion engine, we just can’t win when it comes to emission. That the Ford Motor Company also scams their customers makes our move to Ford moot. But fortunately, getting a more modern car isn’t totally meaningless in an environmental context: The Mondeo is equipped with an Euro 6 engine that should, at least in theory – and I’ve realized that this is all very theoretical at this point – emit less than half of the NOx gasses the Superb’s Euro 5 engine do.
In five years time, though, I’m hoping that electrical, plug-in hybrids, or even hydrogen cars in our segment are available. Because we’re leaving combustion as soon as it’s practically feasible.