Thursday, 24 September 2015

The VW Engineer

For several days, I've been watching the various pieces of the VW diesel story.  So far, no one has touched on the original point of the story.....the engineer and his gifted design.

Somewhere in the midst of this....probably five to ten years ago....VW had this idea of reintroducing the diesel engine into it's car production of the US.  They knew that it'd be tough with the regulations but they figured technology had turned a corner.  So, there's probably a small team led by a VW engineer with a PhD who is building this new engine.

The guys sit around and spend thousands of hours....tons of VW research money....talking over the design day and night.  They sit on their patio after getting home.....sipping beer and thinking over how to build this 'dream' engine.  

With test engines and everything added up.....there's probably hundreds of millions put into this technology development concept.

I imagine at some point....the head guy....the PhD standing there with tears streaming down his face because he can't build an engine that would pass the EPA's harsh regulations.  They've put in some many hours and so much money, and he just can't admit failure.

Somewhere in the background is this guy is who is like Kevin from "The Office".  If you remember, there's this point where Oscar relates that Kevin has had to invent a special formula to balance the books at paper company.....because at the end of the month....the balance doesn't work without Kevin's special formula.  I suspect that this German "Kevin" just figured that VW had all this money invested, the PhD guy was at the peak of his career and needed a boost, and it just seemed like the right thing to do.

So, in this world of car development.....this formula got added into the software.  You have to remember that there dozens of computer components in each car today, and coding now takes a fair amount of effort.  No one goes back to look at coding.....just to see what they did or how it worked.

So the computer was built on the car to say X and Y, and the test results came back X and Y, and the PhD guy just sat there in amazement that it finally worked.

My hunch is that maybe six months after they went into production....he probably stumbled across the problem again, and discovered that things weren't that great, and just retired......probably moving to southern Italy or Spain.  In essence....he disappeared.

The "Kevin" guy?  I'm guessing he's still around and probably grinning over what he did.  He knows that you just can't build a diesel engine to pass the EPA's test.....unless you put a massive filter system into the car and make it a yearly $500 cost item to replace that filter and have it sent to a Mexico garbage dump.  The EPA would probably agree.....they built a regulation which should destroy the diesel industry in the end.

Maybe I'm wrong, but life tends to be this simple and stupid.