On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff
THE RECENT Volkswagen diesel deceit reminded me of a 2010 SAE International presentation of mine that coordinated with an article in R&T. In retrospect, the presentation involved a pair of snafus, one claimed to be accidental at the time, the other only recently coming to light and admittedly duplicitous.
In March 2010, R&T had a multi-part feature, “Hybrids: Perception vs. Reality.” I’ve already commented at this website on the perceptional aspects in “State of the (Hybrid/EV) Union.” There, I cited five groups attracted to alternative-power vehicles: the Firsties, Techies, Greens, Statement Makers and Pencil-Outers. I believe these five curiously disparate groups still exist.
As for reality, we took a trio of cars, a gasoline-powered Ford Fiesta, Toyota Prius hybrid and diesel Volkswagen Golf TDI, through eight decidedly different modes of driving.
There were three suburban stints, easy, sprawl and mixed; “free”ways; a dreaded commute; some canyon carving; the LA4 and back-to-back cruises assessing the influence of air conditioning. By amplification, the LA4 was a test route through downtown Los Angeles. This 7.5-mile figure-eight was designed back in the early 1970s.
For measurements of fuel economy, we started with full tanks, had three top-offs during the various phases and used the cars’ on-board monitoring of mpg. A point on this last: Modern electronic Engine Control Units keep track of fuel usage with more accuracy than anything short of lab-calibrated beaker replenishments, so we understood this was the best approach.
We later discovered Snafu No. 1: Our Fiesta was an early 2011 model, borrowed from Ford as part of a nationwide Fiesta demonstration program. After the March 2010 R&T feature appeared, we were informed that the Fiesta’s trip computer and hence mpg readout were calibrated in Imperial gallons. That is, our initially published Fiesta mpgs were 20 percent better than U.S. mpg reality. By the time of my SAE presentation in February 2010 and in the April 2010 R&T Letters column, we corrected the Fiesta’s fuel economy.
Snafu No. 2 concerns the VW Golf TDI. Being a 2010 model, it would have carried the recently acknowledged VW scam of its on/off NOX control, depending upon whether the car was being emissions tested or driven in the real world. To some extent—still unknown—the reality-driven VW was delivering better than “clean diesel” mpg and performance. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2015