In what has been one of the bigger software news items of the year–at least in terms of the reach of its impact, and the sheer callousness and greed involved–the German automotive group headed up by the Volkswagen folks have had it pretty rough. Their emissions cheating scandal even touched other auto makers, who also came out and admitted to destroying the planet for the sake of a quick buck. The legal and criminal fallout from this software scandal is still in progress, but there is some good news.
The engineers at VW have submitted a software update for approval to German regulators, who then made the determination that this update is acceptable. Owners of diesel vehicles within certain year models and makes will have nothing more than a thirty minute update to wade through–basically, no more arduous than running an antivirus scan on your laptop–while some other owners will actually need to upgrade a part before the software can be updated.
According to a post by Ars Technica, “The fixes will apply to 1.2 liter, 1.6 liter, and 2.0 liter diesel engines. The 1.2 and 2.0 liter engines will only require a software update that Volkswagen group says should take ‘under half an hour.’ The 1.6 liter engine vehicles require a software update as well as a ‘flow rectifier’ that mechanics will fit in front of the air mass sensor. Volkswagen estimates that labor for that job will take ‘under an hour.'”
This fix will only impact cars in the EU, however, and is expected to begin implementation in January. US-based vehicles are a whole other story; the Environmental Protection Agency, the government agency who first broke the news that some Volkswagen vehicles had “cheating software” that let the car emit more toxic particles during regular driving then turn off those emissions when it detected that it was being tested, has stricter rules for diesel emissions. A software upgrade to meet US government standards will take a lot more time to develop.