Bad Ass software


It started at the age of sixteen when teenagers had the urge to boost up their scooter and tried to cover it up when they were being tested on a stationary test rig by the police. However this has not changed and these, now grown up boys, have found a new thing to cover up on the rig.

It is all about the engine management system. This is the software that operates in a car and managed the dosage of the fuel and controls the ignition timing. The system monitors and controls precisely every aspect of engine operation, which improves efficiency, power ad driveability and at the same time reducing fuel consumption and tailpipe emissions. All the gained information will be gathered in an Electronic Control Unit (ECU). With this knowledge the amount of fuel and the moment of ignition can be determined.

You think this is very helpful, and it is indeed. However software can also have defaults…. In the engine management system of Volkswagen some illegal software has been found which has made the software too smart. IT has the ability to recognize an emission test. After the recognition the software started another ‘programme’ which showed the emissions of a very economical car.

‘When the cars were operating under controlled laboratory conditions – which typically involve putting them on a stationary test rig – the device appears to have put the vehicle into a sort of safety mode in which the engine ran below normal power and performance. Once on the road, the engines switched out of this test mode.’ – Russell Hotten

This problem was already known since May 2014 when John German, US co-lead of the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to reducing vehicle emissions, discovered this problem. Since that is more than a year ago other manufactures should also be investigated. During the test on the real road, first John and his team thought there was something wrong with their equipment. Because the emissions of the two tested cars where around 20 to 35 times the standard.

This scandal has also a big impact on the market structure. Volkswagen had the time to fix the problem, but they did not. This has a bad influence on their reputation. Diesel sales were already slowing down. In the US only 1% of all new car sales were in the diesel market. In Europe a big shift occurred after the scandal to petrol engine cars. Also the electric cars are getting more and more popular, so if nothing happens to secure and increase the diesel market, the market will decrease even further.


Academy, A., 2000. Engine Management Systems. [Online]
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Fokker, P., 2015. Volkswagen dieselgate, mislukte misleiding. [Online]
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[Geopend 15 October 2015].

Hutten, R., 2015. BBC News. [Online]
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[Geopend 15 October 2015].

Klumpenaar, S., 2015. Kijken: zo fopte Volkswagen de rollerbank. [Online]
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[Geopend 15 October 2015].

Krechtmer, H., 2015. BBC News. [Online]
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[Geopend 15 October 2015].

Spronk, F., sd Motormanagement. [Online]
Available at:
[Geopend 15 October 2015].


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