GM's Dieselgate: mechanics privately admit software update removes crimeware from Opel cars

General Motors Warren Transmission Operations Plant in Warren, Michigan, 2015. REUTERS

Luc Pauwels from Belgium's VRT News took his Vauxhall (GM) Opel Astra in for service, and a mechanic there disclosed that Vauxhall had asked him to flash the firmware of any diesel Opel Zafira to remove a defeat-device that caused it to emit 500% of the legal NOx limit -- an order that came down right after the Dieselgate scandal broke.

Pauwels took multiple, unmodified Zefiras to mechanics, first testing them for NOx emissions. Before service, they emitted 5X the permitted NOx levels, afterward it dropped to level that complied with EU rules. One mechanic admitted he'd updated the firmware to change the pollution characteristics, while another denied it -- but in both cases, the cars' emissions were radically different before and after the service.

GM denies any wrongdoing.

VRT News has discovered that since November official Opel dealers have been modifying polluting software in one of the Opel models. This is the case with the Zafira-Tourer 2014 series with a 1.6 diesel engine. The software enhances the performance of the cars, but at the same time also increases nitrogen oxide emissions to levels several hundred percent above the permitted European norms. Dealers are now changing the packet in question making the cars less polluting. During our investigation we established that the reason for the upgrade was hidden from Zafira owners. The operation started shortly after the Dieselgate scandal erupted in Europe. (Reporter: Luc Pauwels. VRT's investigation was conducted with support from the Pascal Decroos Fund for Investigative Journalism.)

Are Opel dealers modyfing the software of polluting Zafiras? [Flanders News]

GM’s Opel rejects Belgian emissions claim
[FT]

(Image: Opel Zafira Tourer 2.0 CDTI Innovation (C)
, M93, CC-BY-SA
)