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From the chair: October 2015

publication date: Sep 30, 2015
author/source: John Kendall


Former WGMW treasurer Mike Orford probably won’t want to be reminded that he takes up his new job as head of PR for VW in the UK this week. 


To say it has been a turbulent time for VW is probably something of an understatement but the group really wishes him well. 

It hasn’t been a sparkling one for the press reporting of the events either. If anyone could actually work out what the problem was from the way it has been reported in the mainstream media, they must have been reading/looking at reports that I have not seen. 

What is clear is that it is the VW 2.0-litre TDI engine that has been affected. VW announced late on 25 September that the company has determined that some five million vehicles are affected, not the original 11 million.

There appear to be several stories here. Firstly the “defeat software”. This is a testing issue. Secondly the fact that the software has been used on VW diesels – a diesel emissions issue. 

Obviously this raises other questions: Were other engines involved too? Have other manufacturers done similar things?

The problem for the mainstream media is that this is a technology story and they don’t understand the technology, so it’s easier to indulge in another round of diesel bashing than get to the facts.

The story broke too late for the Frankfurt Show press days, where the focus was very much on the future. Autonomous driving was a big theme and it’s clear that there will be two systems – “Platooning” for trucks, because there would be big fuel consumption benefits and cars that can be driven autonomously because it potentially offers big reductions in road accidents. But it will be introduced in stages starting with motorway driving, not least because the issues around insurance and liability in accidents have yet to be resolved.   

In the meantime, the Western Group is now less than two months away from our AGM. It’s time for a reminder call that those who want to stand for committee will need to be nominated and seconded by full members. Nomination forms will be circulated soon, so make sure you have your backers lined up!

As I write, I’m about to set off on the 2015 MPG Marathon. Winners are determined by how much they exceed the official EU combined mpg figure for their car while maintaining an average speed of at least 30mph.

Despite the VW debacle, I can say that in 25 years of testing vehicles, I have never driven cars with average fuel consumption as low as I see regularly now. Perhaps the industry is doing something right after all.


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