Calculating the Costs to Society of the VW Scandal

Posted By on January 10, 2016

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The U.S. Department of Justice lawyers on behalf of the EPA are probably sleeping and dreaming dollar signs … a still unknown number but calculations mentioned in the WSJ top $45 Billion. They have an opportunity to capitalize on Volkswagen’s willful disregard and purposeful installation of “defeat devices” on Volkswagen, Audi and Porche TDI diesel vehicles for most of the past decade. The number of affected vehicles initially were 482,000 with a recent addition of another 100,000. Who knows what the lawsuit number will eventually request? I’m sure the number will be mind bogglingly large.

Interestingly Harvard and MIT researchers attempted to put a price on the “human health toll.” They concluded “excess pol­lu­tion emit­ted from the cars will cause 59 pre­ma­ture deaths, 31 cases of chronic bronchi­tis, 34 hos­pital ad­mis­sions, 120,000 days of restricted activ­ity in­clud­ing lost work days — 210,000 days with lower res­pira­tory prob­lems and 33,000 days with in­creased use of asthma in­halers. The cost, they said, will be $450 million.” They also admitted that those calculations could be interpreted higher or lower based on additional outside costs … it could be has high as $1.2 billion or as low as $72 million.

It is an interesting read in this past weekend’s WSJ. Source: How to Calculate the Costs to Society of the VW Scandal


  • Kirb

    Thought you would be defending VW and their diesels?

  • The part being missed in this whole conversation is that the NOx emission standards set on small diesel vehicles are ridiculous and based on fear and not fact.

    Pretend for a minute that NOx numbers generated by humans is a major contributor to NOx in the world (it’s not, as human factors contributing to NOx is estimated at 38% of the total).
    Also lets pretend that fossil fuels (emissions) are a major contributor to that human contributor (it’s not, its 10%)

    So assuming NOx from vehicles in general (all engines, all sizes) contribute substantially to NOx lets look at the VW Jetta accusations.
    The largest number I’ve seen is 7x higher then EURO 6 standard for NOx (0.128748 gram/mile) which is 0.9012326

    To compare, lets take a look at Light-Duty Trucks in 2008 ,
    Overall average of 0.95 g/m

    Now lets look at full size “Heavy Duty” pickups average based on EPA testing in 2008
    Gas NOx emissions are 2.734 g/m
    Diesel NOx emissions are 3.088 g/m
    The numbers get bigger as the engines get larger

    The requirements for trucks is calculated using grams per brake horsepower-hour (g/bhp-hr) which I’m still trying to understand, but my thermodynamics degree hasn’t arrived the mail yet so I’m not sure what the rules on the trucks.

    • In my opinion … you are spot on and being way too sensible — so much for a level playing field?

      Unfortunately we all play by the rules “those we elect” (at least from what I can tell in the U.S) place on us. We currently either have to change the laws … or suffer the consequences when we thumb our noses and attempt to deceive. Pointing out the ridiculousness and inequity (above) is the first step towards change … but its probably not going to gain much traction, especially compared to Volkswagen blatant disregard for existing U.S. emission law by installing “defeat setups” on TDI cars. I’d love to defend VW, Kirb (commenter above Tim’s) … but they have some corporate culture changes to make before I get back on the bandwagon (or should I say “bandwagen”)

Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.