An internal Volkswagen corporate PowerPoint presentation from 2006 outlined how to trick emissions tests — and the result of that plan to cheat environmental protections, governments, and the people who bought and drove those cars is now known as "Dieselgate."
Volkswagen engineers at the company's research and development complex in Wolfsburg realized that the emissions equipment in their newest diesel engine would wear out too quickly if it were calibrated to meet American pollution standards. The emissions rules in the United States are more stringent than those in Europe.
A technology expert at Volkswagen offered a solution in the PowerPoint presentation. Just a few pages long, the 2006 presentation included a graph that explained the process for testing the amount of pollution spewing from a car. In a laboratory, regulators would try to replicate a variety of conditions on the road.
The pattern of those tests, the presentation said, was entirely predictable. And a piece of code embedded in the software that controlled the engine could recognize that pattern, activating equipment to reduce emissions just for testing purposes.
Elements of the presentation were reported earlier by Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and several German broadcasters. Under German privacy law, the executive cannot be named.
The software evolved over the years. It was later upgraded to detect other telltale signs of a regulatory test, like a steering wheel that was not moving, according to Felix Domke, a computer expert and self-described hacker who has analyzed the software.
"VW Presentation in '06 Showed How to Foil Emissions Tests" [NYT]
Below, a video from security researcher Felix Domke, who analyzed the "dirty" Volkswagen software.