I have been working with mobile source issues for over 40 years. During that time, most environmental bars viewed Title 2 of the Clean Air Act as occupying the space between Titles 1 and 3 and pertaining to cars. That all changed in 2015 when the Volkswagen ‘Dieselgate’ scandal came to light and the term ‘defeat device’ became a common idiom. This has resulted in an unprecedented scale of federal, state and international indictments, involving VW and other automakers.
Three years ago, the EPA announced a new National Compliance Initiative, clearly focused on smaller goals.Stop aftermarket deactivation devices for vehicles and enginesThe EPA has pledged to use its anti-tampering agency to crack down on companies (often small businesses) that manufacture, sell, and install defeat devices. Section 203(a)(3) of the Clean Air Act and the criminal penalties seen there Section 113(c)(2)(C) of that law.
It’s easy to see how we got here. A modern car or truck has 30 to 50 computer systems controlling everything from entertainment systems to power windows and lights. The key here is that the on-board computer employs sophisticated algorithms to control emissions.
Of course, where there are computers, there are hackers. Where there are cars and trucks, there are consumers who want more power and speed. Long before VW, small businesses started selling performance tuners for more power, often at the expense of emissions. Many of these aftermarket companies target the popular high performance pickup truck market. Some companies sell tuners and software for cars and motorcycles.
Personally, the impact of a small manufacturer of defeated devices seems modest. But cumulative?a 2020 EPA Survey Focusing on pickup trucks, it is estimated that nationally, more than 500,000 vehicles have been exempted from emissions regulations in 10 years. particulate.
EPA’s compliance initiatives are making an impact. In 2021 alone, 42 cases resolved by EPA Alleged violations of Title II of the Clean Air Act, nearly all of which penalize manufacturers, distributors, and installers of defeat devices.This initiative also seems to have the intended effect of sending Shock waves in the vehicle performance communityIt could push some companies out of the market before the EPA catches up. Even online retailers Amazon and more recently, Ebay Adopting a policy that prohibits users of the platform from selling defeat devices (a prudent move. Section 203(a)(1) of the Clean Air Act It does more than prohibit tampering with emission control devices. It also prohibits the company from “causing” someone else to tamper.)
And don’t be surprised if truck and car makers quietly support the EPA initiative. You may not want to alienate power-hungry customers, but changing emissions control to increase horsepower can lead to engine damage, warranty disputes with vehicle owners, and reputational damage.
I don’t think this is what the Beach Boys had in mind when they celebrated street racing.Shut off, shut off, buddy, I’m gonna shut down’ But that’s where we are headed.