More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal

More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal
Volkswagen has admitted it installed illegal software into 11 million 2.0 liter and 3.0 liter diesel engines worldwide (AFP Photo/Josh Edelson)

Volkswagen emissions scandal

Iran's 'catastrophic mistake': Speculation, pressure, then admission

Iran's 'catastrophic mistake': Speculation, pressure, then admission
Analsyts say it is irresponsible to link the crash of a Ukraine International Airline Boeing 737-800 to the 737 MAX accidents (AFP Photo/INA FASSBENDER)

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 commercial jet.

QZ8501 (AirAsia)

Leaders see horror of French Alps crash as probe gathers pace

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dutch electric and hybrid car fleet tops 200,000

DutchNews, April 26, 2016

Some 60,000 electric and hybrid cars were bought in the Netherlands last year, taking the total number on the Dutch roads to around 211,000, the national statistics office CBS said on Tuesday. 

This may be an increase of over 33% on a year ago, but electric or hybrid cars still account for just one in 40 of the cars on the Dutch roads, the CBS said. 

Just one in 20 of the total is a fully electric vehicle, and the Tesla Model S is the most popular of these. In terms of the hybrids, the Mitsubishi Outlander, the Volkswagen Golf plug-in hybrid and the Toyota Auris lead the pack in popularity.

Related Article:

A host holds up two kinds of electric car charging plug interfaces.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Dutch students open world's first pop-up drone cafe

Yahoo – AFP, April 23, 2016

A drone brings drinks to customers in the world's first drone cafe in Eindhoven

Would you like a drone with your cocktail? The world's first cafe using the tiny domestic unmanned aircraft as servers has opened in a Dutch university.

The pop-up drone cafe will be serving up all weekend as part of celebrations for the "Dream and Dare" festival marking the 60th anniversary of the Eindhoven University of Technology.

The 20 students behind the project, who spent nine months developing and building the autonomous drone, aim to show how such small inside craft could become an essential part of modern daily life.

"It has potential as a useful tool for human kind. We see it as the next mobile phone. You choose and you programme it like you want," student and project leader Tessie Hartjes told AFP.

The drone, nicknamed Blue Jay, which resembles a small white flying saucer with a luminescent strip for eyes, flies to a table and hovers as it takes a client's order, who points to the list to signal what they would like.

"The blue eyes of the first drone load" up by scanning the list to register the order, said Hartjes.

"Once it's fully loaded, then the order is ready. And another one comes with the order in a cup in the grip."

The cafe is offering four different alcoholic and non-alcoholic cocktails, which are either bright blue or green -- the same colour as the drone's "eyes."

The drinks are picked up and carried by a set of pinchers underneath the drone, in a bid to show that these aerial machines could be used to carry out delicate missions such as delivering medicines or even helping to track down burglars.

Each drone has cost about 2,000 euros to build, in a project funded by the university which the students say aims "to give a glimpse of the future".

Thanks to sensors and a long battery life they can fly inside buildings and navigate crowded interiors, unlike other drones, which rely on a GPS system.

"The Blue Jay is an intelligent bird that lives in complex, social environments," the students say in a video presenting their work.

They believe the drone's applications could be endless: as extinguishers to put out fires, alarm systems to warn of intruders or mini-servants which would respond to commands such as "fetch me an apple."

"We believe that one day, domestic drones will be a part of society. One day, a drone could be a friend," says one of the students in the video presentation.

Related Article:

Sunday, April 24, 2016

More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal

Yahoo – AFP,  April 22, 2016

Volkswagen has admitted it installed illegal software into 11 million 2.0 liter
and 3.0 liter diesel engines worldwide (AFP Photo/Josh Edelson)

Berlin (AFP) - Major names in the auto industry found themselves caught in headlights of a global engine-rigging scandal on Friday as Volkswagen booked one of the biggest losses in its history over the scam.

As VW announced it was setting aside 16.2 billion euros to cover the costs of the scandal, the German government revealed that an emissions probe found that 16 major car brands -- ranging from France's Renault to Italy's Fiat to Japan's Nissan -- showed up irregularities.

German carmakers would have to recall Audi, Mercedes, Opel, Porsche and Volkswagen vehicles in Europe after failing the test, Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said, adding that Berlin was unable to require foreign car makers that did not fall under its jurisdiction to take similar action.

The latest revelations amounted to another aftershock rocking the automobile sector, already vulnerable after VW's scandal erupted in September with the admission that the group had installed so-called "defeat devices" aimed at cheating emissions tests into 11 million diesel engines worldwide.

Volkswagen has admitted it installed illegal software into 11 million 2.0 liter 
and 3.0 liter diesel engines worldwide (AFP Photo/John SAEKI, Adrian Leung)

This week, the pain spread to Asia, where Japan's Mitsubishi Motors confessed that it cheated on fuel-efficiency tests.

And late Thursday, top of the range German maker Daimler announced that it was launching an internal probe into its emission certification process at the request of the US authorities.

France's biggest automaker PSA Group was also not spared, as the country's anti-fraud squad raided its premises as part of a government probe into emissions after "anomalies" were found in three vehicles.

16 car brands hit

The latest trouble to hit the sector arises from a probe carried out into the emission values of all vehicle models on German roads.

Of 53 models tested, 22 models were found to emit high nitrogen oxide values and possess a technical device that raised questions.

The models in particular have devices that, under specific temperatures, switch off systems that are meant to remove harmful nitrogen oxide from cars' exhaust.

Daimler -- owner of Mercedes-Benz -- announced that it was launching an internal
 investigation, "into its certification process related to exhaust emissions in the United 
States upon the request of the US Department of Justice (DOJ)" (AFP Photo/
\Paul J. Richards)

The systems for cleaning pollutants are deactivated at low temperatures to protect motors or prevent a possible accident, as is allowed by EU regulations, but it was not clear whether some makers used this provision to bend the rules.

Dobrindt said that besides German brands Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes, Opel and Porsche, as well as France's Renault, "other manufacturers (affected) are ... Alfa Romeo, Chevrolet, Dacia, Fiat, Hyundai, Jaguar, Jeep, Land Rover, Nissan and Suzuki."

Meanwhile, independent of the German probe, Daimler -- owner of Mercedes-Benz, announced that it was launching an internal investigation, "into its certification process related to exhaust emissions in the United States upon the request of the US Department of Justice (DOJ)."

Daimler pledged to "investigate possible indications of irregularities and of course take all necessary actions," it said as its shares went into a tailspin on the Frankfurt stock exchange.

In Asia, Japan's transport ministry sent officials to raid a Mitsubishi Motors research and development centre for a second day on Friday.

Mitsubishi said it would halt production and sales of the affected models -- mini-cars sold in Japan including many made for rival Nissan -- and warned that the number would likely rise, as it looks to vehicles sold overseas.

Japanese automaker Mitsubishi has admitted it manipulated pollution data
in more than 600,000 vehicles (AFP Photo/Toshifumi Kitamura)

VW skids deep into red

For its part, VW said it sank into a loss of 1.582 billion euros in 2015, due mainly to the 16.2 billion euros in provisions it has been forced to set aside to cover regulatory fines, lawsuits and recall costs of the scandal.

"The emissions issue significantly impacted Volkswagen's finances," said Matthias Mueller, group chief executive.

VW had only just reached an agreement with US regulators -- who had first broken the scandal -- to offer US owners of some 480,000 illegally polluting diesel cars options of "substantial compensation" and to fix the cars, or to buy them back.

The German giant had faced a court deadline for solutions to the emissions scandal and San Francisco district court judge Charles Breyer said the agreement in principle would give owners of its 2.0 liter diesel cars choices for compensation which also included cancelling the contracts for those under lease.

The offer, which will likely cost Volkswagen billions of dollars, also included the creation of a fund for environmental protection, the company said at a court hearing.

Details of the proposal between Volkswagen USA, the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency were not immediately released.

Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt gives a statment to the media in Berlin, 
Germany, April 22, 2016. German car manufacturers will recall 630,000 Porsche, 
Volkswagen Opel, Audi and Mercedes vehicles to fix diesel emissions management
 software, a German government official said on Friday, widening a clampdown on 
pollution in the wake of the Volkswagen scandal. Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch

But it appeared to be enough to allow Volkswagen to avert a huge trial over how it would deal with the scandal that has already deeply damaged the company.

The so-called "dieselgate" scandal led to the departure of VW's chief executive Martin Winterkorn.

The German giant, which has abandoned its ambitions of becoming the world's biggest carmaker ahead of Toyota in the wake of the scandal, has already started recalling some eight million vehicles affected in Europe.

The scandal has greatly tarnished the reputation of a company once regarded as a paragon of German industry.

The recall operation in Europe is expected to take all year. And while VW is footing the bill, it is not expecting to have to pay European owners compensation, much to the chagrin of consumer protection groups.

Related Articles:

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Automaker Mitsubishi admits manipulating fuel-efficiency tests

Yahoo – AFP, Natsuko Fukue, 20 April 2016

Japanese automaker Mitsubishi on Wednesday admitted it manipulated fuel-efficiency tests in more than 600,000 vehicles, after reports of misconduct sent its Tokyo-listed shares crashing earlier in the day.

The embarrassing revelation comes in the wake of a massive pollution-cheating scandal at Volkswagen (LSE: 0P6N.L - news) that erupted in September and which the German giant is still struggling to overcome.

It (Other OTC: ITGL - news) also marks the latest blow for Japan Inc after auto parts giant Takata (Frankfurt: 7TK.F - news) was hammered by an exploding air bag defect blamed for at least 11 deaths, and as Toshiba (Swiss: TOSH.SW - news) tries to recover from a huge accounting scandal.

Mitsubishi said it would halt production and sales of the affected vehicle models -- mini-cars sold in Japan -- and warned that the number of affected vehicles would likely rise.

The maker of the Outlander sport utility vehicle also said it would launch a probe into cars it sold overseas.

"We found that with respect to the fuel consumption testing data... (the company) conducted testing improperly to present better fuel consumption rates than the actual rates," Mitsubishi president Tetsuro Aikawa told a Tokyo news briefing.

He added that the testing method was "different" from one required by Japanese law, and warned that the automaker's bottom line would take a hit.

"This is not a simple problem and we need time (to assess the impact)," Mitsubishi's top executive said.

"But I'm sure there will be an impact. The damage will be big."

The problem affected about 625,000 vehicles, including mini-cars "eK Wagon" and "eK Space", and the "Dayz" and "Dayz Roox", which Mitsubishi produces for rival Nissan.

The rigged figures were discovered after Nissan found inconsistencies in fuel-economy data and reported it.

"In response to Nissan's request, Mitsubishi admitted that data had been intentionally manipulated in its fuel economy testing process for certification," Nissan said.

Independent investigation

Japan's number-two carmaker ordered a halt to sales of the vehicles that Mitsubishi produced and tested.

A company spokesman declined to comment on the future of Nissan's business relationship with its smaller rival.

"Our focus is on our customers," he said.

Mini-cars, or kei-cars, are small vehicles with 660cc gasoline engines that are hugely popular in the Japanese market, but have found little success abroad.

Mitsubishi sold more than a million vehicles at home and overseas in its latest fiscal year.

"Taking into account the seriousness of these issues, we will also conduct an investigation into products manufactured for overseas markets," the carmaker said in a statement.

"In order to conduct an investigation into these issues objectively and thoroughly, we plan to set up a committee consisting of only external experts. We will publish the results of our investigation as soon as it is complete."

Earlier Wednesday, Mitsubishi shares plunged 15.16 percent to 733 yen ($6.73) after local media reported the faulty emissions tests.

"This may be different from Volkswagen's issue, but the market has become very sensitive to such kind of news," Seiji Sugiura, an analyst at Tokai Tokyo Research Center, told Bloomberg News.

"It may have a similar impact in terms of sales and the company's reputation."

The fall in Mitsubishi's stock was its biggest one-day plunge since 2004.

At that time, Mitsubishi was struggling to launch a turnaround as it teetered on the edge of bankruptcy, hit by a lack of cash and a series of huge recalls linked to serious defects.

"It's not the first time for Mitsubishi to have this kind of issue, and this definitely won?t help them rebuild their reputation," Sugiura said.

Volkswagen has been hammered by a global scandal that erupted when it emerged that it had installed emissions-cheating software in 11 million diesel engines worldwide.

The costs of the scandal are still incalculable but are expected to run into several billions of dollars as a result of fines and lawsuits.

South Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia in 2014 agreed to pay $100 million to settle a US government investigation into exaggerated fuel efficiency on 2012 and 2013 car models sold in the United States.

Related Article:

Monday, April 18, 2016

'Reverse photosynthesis' could change fuel production

Researchers in Denmark have discovered that a certain enzyme causes sunlight to break down the chemical bonds in plants. The finding could improve industrial processes such as the production of biofuels.

Deutsche Welle, 17 April 2016

Photosynthesis is a process in which plants convert sunlight into chemical energy that can be later released as fuel. But now, a group of scientists from the University of Copenhagen have found that adding an enzyme called monooxygenase to the process causes sunlight to break down plant material instead of helping create it. They refer to this phenomenon as "reverse photosynthesis."

The discovery could be applied to processes that require the breakdown of chemical bonds, such as the production of bioethanol, which is made from biomass via a fermentation process.

In a press release, Professor Claus Felby from the Plant Science Centre at the University of Copenhagen, the head of the study, called the discovery a "game changer" that could transform the production of fuels and chemicals, increasing efficiency and decreasing pollution.

Great usage potential

The first step to producing bioethanol is breaking down cellulose, an organic material that forms the walls in plant cells. This is exactly what happens when monooxygenase is added to the photosynthesis process.

Ethanol is widely used as engine fuel
"Basically, we have found a new way of using solar energy - going directly from sunlight to chemistry," Felby told DW. "This opens up a lot of possibilities."

The scientists' lab tests indicated that applying this process resulted in much faster production of ethanol and at lower temperatures. The duration of some of the chemical reactions was reduced from hours to minutes when sunlight was involved.

Ethanol has a multitude of uses in the modern world, mostly as engine fuel, but also as an ingredient in medical and personal care products.

The team also found that the same process can be applied to oxidizing methane. This produces methanol, a key ingredient in the manufacture of different chemicals.

"Methanol currently requires very large and expensive steel units to produce," explained Felby. "If our method was applied to this process, you would only need small, simple production units, something similar to a greenhouse."

Need to test large-scale application

While the process has proven effective in a lab environment, the scientists need to do further research to determine how it would work in real life.

"We are now working on exploring this," David Cannella, a co-author of the study, told DW. "You need to make sure that sunlight penetrates the organic material that you are converting, and we still need to work out how to do this."

Cannella feels optimistic about the commercial applicability of the process, as does Felby.

"We have to determine the exact amount of light needed for the process and how and when to apply it," said Felby. "But that's just a question of engineering."

He added that going directly from sunlight to chemical energy results in very little energy loss: "It's a near-perfect process."

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Travel firms to brief holidaymakers on their trip’s environmental footprint

DutchNews, April 12, 2016

A Fokker 70 takes off from Schiphol
airport. Photo jvanderwolf via
Dutch travel firms are to start informing holidaymakers how much environmental damage their trip is doing by listing ‘holiday footprints’ in brochures and on websites, travel sector organisation ANVR says in Tuesday’s Volkskrant

‘We aim to eventually allow consumers to calculate their own holiday footprint via an app or website,’ ANVR spokesman Gerben Hardeman told the paper. ‘We are still a long way off that. But we are now working with a group of travel firms to determine how we can best inform consumers about what we know already.’ 

By helping consumers to realise the impact of their holiday on the environment, holidaymakers can ‘make a responsible choice’, he said. 

Currently, airline passengers can pay extra to offset the cost to the climate of their journey. The amounts vary from €10 to €100, depending on the way the potential damage is calculated by different airlines. 

The system used by the ANVR has been developed by researchers at several hbo colleges and 10 travel firms. It is based on confidential information from airline manufacturers, airlines themselves and the hotel website

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Three Chinese passengers grounded for bad behaviour

Yahoo – AFP, April 11, 2016

Chinese authorities last year declared 11 types of action 'strictly prohibited' on
 flights and at terminals, including damaging airport security facilities and
assaulting crew members (AFP Photo/Greg Baker)

China has banned three passengers from major airlines for "uncivilised behaviour", state media reported on Monday, as the country seeks to instil manners in its increasingly well-travelled populace.

The three were blacklisted for hitting a checkpoint security officer with a can of milk, attacking airline personnel over a flight delay, and refusing to switch off a tablet PC during a landing, the China Daily newspaper said.

They are the first to be included in a system rolled out by the China Air Transport Association in February, and will be unable to book flights with five of China's biggest airlines for up to two years, it added.

Chinese authorities last year declared 11 types of action "strictly prohibited" on flights and at terminals, including damaging airport security facilities and assaulting crew members, according to the China Daily.

Such behaviour has frequently made headlines in the country with the world's worst track record for flight delays.

In January last year, 25 passengers were held by police for questioning after they fought with crew members over a bad weather delay and opened the emergency exits.

In 2013, an official who missed two flights lost his temper at the boarding counter and went on a rampage, violently destroying two computers and attempting to smash a window with a signboard.

In December 2014, a Chinese woman en route back to China from Thailand threw a cup of noodles full of boiling water at a Thai flight attendant and punched the cabin windows, threatening to jump out, in a dispute that began over seat arrangements.

An editorial in the China Daily on Monday said such blacklisting was "long overdue", and that the first punishments would warn other travellers to "toe the line".

"There is no reason for them to be respected when they do not show enough respect for others," it said.

Related Articles:

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Dutch to push for EU-wide rules for self-driving cars Europe

DutchNews, April 6, 2016

Photo: Jarino via 
Dutch infrastructure minister Melanie Schultz is hoping to reach a deal with her European counterparts on standard rules for self-driving cars. 

Next week’s meeting of transport ministers in Amsterdam will mark the start of efforts to draw up cross-border rules to deal with technologies such as adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assistance systems and blind spot monitoring. 

‘The treaty of Vienna dates from 1968 and states a driver must always have control over his vehicle or – and you can see how outdated it is – his animals,’ Schultz told car magazine Autoweek. ‘We need to make new agreements.’ 

‘We need to see how quickly we can do this and how we are going to harmonise the rules,’ Schultz said. ‘And I want my colleagues who are not active in this – and there are a lot of them – to see the advantages of self-driving systems.’ 

Schultz has made self-driving cars a key part of her transport policy and wants the Netherlands to play a leading role in developments. 

Steering wheel

In January, trials of the driverless WEpod shuttle buses began in Wageningen on the university campus roads. The buses, which have no steering wheel or pedals, are electric and have a maximum speed of 25 kph. 

If the campus trials are a success, in June the shuttles will begin to use public roads, travelling a pre-programmed route between Bennekom and the Ede-Wageningen railway station. 

Schultz told Autoweek unified agreements are crucial in a single market. ‘It would be extremely irritating to have to reset the self-driving features in your car every time you cross the border,’ she said.