Friday, May 31, 2013

Computerization causing reliability problems for Australia's VWs

All modern cars are under the control of an engine computer and we all know about computers doing strange things.  VWs seem to be prone to excessive panic in their computers:  The computer rather often puts the car into "limp mode".  "Limp mode" is in general a good thing.  It is the computer's way of protecting the car from further damage if something in the car is not working properly.   It slows the car right down among other things.  Usually, it should NEVER happen, however. But the VW computers do it a lot so either VWs have a lot of faults or the computer is wrong.

I have owned FIVE VWs in the old days when they were very simple machines and they NEVER let me down. And the two Toyotas I own now have never broken down either.  One is 15 years old and the other 8 years old.  I would never settle for less. Why should anyone?

There have been a lot of other problems with modern VWs too.  Buy Toyota

At least 15 Volkswagen owners have revealed they experienced the same terrifying loss of acceleration that appears to have led to the 2011 death of 32-year-old Melissa Ryan on the Monash Freeway.

Volkswagen, one of the most popular manufacturers in the Australian market, is facing growing pressure to tackle problems with its cars that have led to overseas recalls.

A coroner this week investigated the death of Ms Ryan, who was killed when a prime mover with two trailers hit her Golf from behind. The truck driver and Ms Ryan's family believe her car dramatically and inexplicably slowed before the crash. After Fairfax's reporting of the coronial inquest, 15 owners of Volkswagens have spoken of frightening experiences when their cars, including Golf, Passat, Polo and Eos models, suddenly lost power on highways and, in one case, a train line.

"I did not feel safe driving a car like that. It was frightening," said Jean Lim, who was driving a 2007 Golf automatic that suddenly decelerated. VW replaced the gearbox but the issue returned. Another driver, who owned a 2008 Golf automatic, said she drove "in constant terror". "The light comes up, the car just dies and you just pray that you're not smashed into," said the driver, who declined to be named.

Fairfax can also confirm the federal Department of Infrastructure and Transport is investigating Ms Ryan's death. It is "liaising closely with Volkswagen Australia", spokesman Craig Stone said.

The coroner, whose decision is due in late July, will assess whether Ms Ryan's death was due to fault on the part of the truck driver, her own fault, vehicle malfunction or a combination of factors. Her car was a manual; most problems overseas with sudden deceleration in Volkswagens are found in automatics.

Volkswagen's expert witness Warren Chilvers told the inquiry the vehicle information showed no evidence to suggest the car was at fault. The truck driver, Ivan Mumford, insisted he never saw Ms Ryan's brake lights come on before the crash, but he had seen them working earlier. Fairfax is not suggesting Ms Ryan’s death is linked to a fault in her car.  Volkswagen has this year issued recalls for almost 400,000 of its cars in China and 91,000 in Japan for problems with the high-tech automatic direct shift gearbox (DSG). The DSG problems have been connected to sudden power loss.

In the US, the company issued two minor recalls related to the DSG. Then, after a federal government investigation and bad publicity,  in 2009 Volkswagen launched a service program that repaired or replaced the transmission components of about 43,000 Volkswagens and 10,300 Audis at no charge.

But the company has resisted calls – mostly made in online forums and in comments replying to motoring articles – to issue a recall in Australia. Volkswagen executive vice-president Ulrich Hackenberg said  this month that the China recall related to a problem with Chinese-built DSGs. He said DSGs in Australia were made in Europe. But the company had not revealed where the faulty Japanese DSGs were made.

Volkswagen  currently has a "campaign" – which is like a recall but driven by the manufacturer – to fix an injector problem with some diesel models. But online forums have pointed out Volkswagen has no way of getting in touch with owners who buy the cars secondhand.

David and Norma Levin  had their 2007 diesel Golf booked in for the campaign service a week after  they suffered sudden deceleration while driving to Adelaide recently. They blame the injector fault for the incident. But Volkswagen says the campaign is not about a safety problem. Volkswagen Australia declined to answer a dozen  specific questions put to it by Fairfax Media about recalls and sudden deceleration.

But spokesman Kurt McGuiness said there were no plans for recalls. "Volkswagen conducts vehicle recalls in conjunction with the relevant federal government bodies. At this time we do not plan to announce a recall. Any recalls are conducted in accordance with the Consumer Product Safety Recall Guidelines issued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission."

Mr McGuiness said service campaigns are "deemed to be non-safety related in accordance with federal regulations" and are carried out within dealerships when vehicles are brought in for routine services.

The "limp home mode" – where a car reduces speed to protect the engine from extensive damage in the event of an issue arising – was not unique to Volkswagen, he said.

"Rapid deceleration is not an issue widely observed or reported with any Volkswagen vehicles ... However, should any of our customers have cause for concern with their Volkswagen vehicle, we urge them to contact our customer care team .. We are dedicated to rectify any lost confidence our customers may have in our products."

Mechanic Dean Coutts, owner and manager of Volkspower, a Volkswagen specialist, said sudden deceleration was not a problem he had seen.  "Yes we have customers who have their car go into limp mode, but that’s no different to any other manufacturer on the planet."

Fairfax also received complaints about sudden speed loss in a Ford Mondeo and a Mercedes ML 350.


Attacking Sydney's 'enclaves of Islam'

Pastor Nalliah.  Good to see that some Christians can still find Matt. 28:19-20 in their Bibles

A CONTROVERSIAL anti-Islamic political leader who says he is prepared to die for his cause has denied he is inflaming violence with a talk about "Muslim enclaves" at Blacktown tonight.

Police are on alert for the speech by Rise Up Australia Party national president Daniel Nalliah at the town's RSL and have warned Mr Nalliah and the local community to say nothing that "might incite violent or criminal behaviour".

Mr Nalliah said yesterday "gutless politicians" had to stop "pussy footing" around the issue of "Muslims taking over whole suburbs and turning them into no-go zones".

He said his "patriotic" views had led to several death threats and the machete murder of a British soldier in a London street last week was in the forefront of his mind.

"I'm not going to back off," Mr Nalliah said yesterday.  "If I have to get killed for this cause, I'm willing to do that for the sake of the future of our children."

Mr Nalliah, a migrant from Sri Lanka via Saudi Arabia, who describes himself as black, denied RUP was another "white Australia" party.

It is one of several new political parties registered in time for the federal election which are expected to attract votes from the major parties.

The spectre of Muslim ghettos was raised by a federal parliamentary committee into multiculturalism which recently handed down its report.

"References were made to Muslim 'enclaves' in Sydney and Melbourne and the riots in Cronulla in 2005 to suggest a lack of willingness on the part of Muslims to embrace the Australian lifestyle, values and behaviours," the report said.

A police spokesperson said they were aware of the speech to be delivered tonight. "Individuals and groups have a right to express their opinions as long as this is done in a lawful and respectful manner," the spokesperson said.  "We would remind people that care must be taken so nothing is said that may incite violent or criminal behaviour."

Muslim leader Keysar Trad said groups such as Rise Up Australia should be ignored: "The community should continue to ignore Islamaphobic groups such as this and let them continue to do what they want to without any publicity."


Gonski reform process 'a sham', says Victorian Education Minister

JULIA Gillard's agenda for seamless national education reform took a battering yesterday when Victoria accused the commonwealth of running a "sham", "puerile" and farcical process over her Gonski agenda.

In a further blow to the Prime Minister, Labor's last mainland Premier, Jay Weatherill, told The Australian it was "unlikely" South Australia would reach agreement on the reforms before he delivered his state budget next week.

Ms Gillard did get one Gonski victory yesterday when the ACT government agreed to her school funding reforms, joining NSW, after a deal for an additional $190 million for schools in the nation's capital in the six years from 2014.

"Every agreement gives momentum to these reforms, because it becomes clearer and clearer that this is a good way of making sure our children get a great education," Ms Gillard said at Lyneham High School in Canberra's north.

However, Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon excoriated the commonwealth over its handling of the Gonski negotiations, claiming the reforms amounted to nothing more than a slogan.

In unusually strong language, Mr Dixon said he no longer trusted the federal government over the way it had conducted the negotiations.

He said that he was being forced to read in the media about key developments in what were meant to be confidential negotiations about the future of billions of dollars worth of education funding.

"This process has been a farce and it's been a sham," Mr Dixon told parliament.

"We are not going to sign up to a slogan. We want a real funding deal. We are going to sign up to what's best for every student, school, family and taxpayer."

Senior government sources said Victoria would only now sign up to the Gonski reforms if there was a "deal breaking" offer by Canberra.

Mr Dixon, Catholic Education Commission Victoria executive director Stephen Elder and Independent Schools Victoria chief executive Michelle Green have written to the Gillard government asking for four-way negotiations to address funding proposals. This is believed to be due to existing discussions having collapsed.

"The current bilateral negotiations have not achieved results we would have liked," the trio wrote in a letter to School Education Minister Peter Garrett.

Mr Dixon's outburst makes it increasingly unlikely that Ms Gillard will be able to broker a truly national approach to the Gonski reforms. While Mr Dixon has not ruled out signing up to the reforms, he has sent the clearest possible message that Victoria's support is highly conditional.

Queensland is still holding out on the reforms while Western Australia says it is not signing.

The South Australian Premier, who took on Treasury in his January frontbench reshuffle, yesterday hosed down any expectation he was about to sign up to Gonski and was just waiting for the right time to announce it with the Prime Minister before next Thursday's state budget.

"Negotiations are continuing," Mr Weatherill said.

"State government representatives held further negotiations with federal government officials earlier this week. However, there are still a number of outstanding issues between us.

"It is unlikely we will reach agreement before the state budget, but the Prime Minister has stated that states have until June 30 to reach agreement."

Sources familiar with the negotiations said the South Australian government would push the Gonski talks "down to the wire".

"It may all fall over yet; we'll likely push it right up to the last minute of the deadline," one source said.

Mr Weatherill has refused to disclose publicly the issues still to be resolved with the commonwealth. But in a letter from Mr Weatherill to non-government schools, obtained by The Australian, the Premier stated that one of the issues to be resolved was "how quickly the new funding model would be implemented in South Australia". The letter, dated May 24, also warned that, "it may not be possible to reach an agreement with the commonwealth on the Gonski reforms".

Mr Weatherill said schools should be prepared to lose funding if a deal was not struck. "It would mean a significant and immediate reduction in funding for all government and non-government schools due to the nature of the current funding arrangements with the commonwealth government," he said in the letter.

Association of Independent Schools SA chief executive Carolyn Grantskalns said she doubted any funding cuts would eventuate.

"We've seen no actual numbers . . . there is absolutely no certainty at this point," she said. "There is no certainty the state will sign up.

A spokeswoman for Mr Garrett yesterday said Mr Weatherill had expressed "strong support" for Gonski.

"We are very hopeful of reaching a deal with the South Australian government in the coming weeks," the spokeswoman said.

Ms Gillard has given the states until June 30 to sign up to her Gonski reforms, promising to deliver an extra $14.5bn plus indexation to schools over the next six years.

Wayne Swan accused the federal opposition of attempting to intimidate Coalition governments into not signing the deal.

"They have attempted to thug . . . the premiers of Queensland and other states into not accepting this deal," he said. "And what that means is they're stealing from the future and they're putting their political interests before the national interest."

School Education Minister Peter Garrett was unable to say yesterday what the year-by-year funding increases would be for schools in the ACT, but provided an assurance they would be released in coming weeks.

Under the deal signed yesterday, ACT government schools will now receive $3.3bn, the Catholic sector $900 million and the independent sector $700m over the six years from 2014.


Australian Warmists slowly backing away from alarm

They describe their figures below as "highly uncertain" but still think action must be taken!

Dramatic new research has claimed that the effects of global warming may be less than first predicted.

Australian scientists have narrowed the predicted range of global warming through groundbreaking new research.

However, the team behind it said the smaller rise could still have major effects - and warned we cannot wait for more exact figures before acting.

The paper, published in Nature Climate Change today, found that exceeding 6 degrees warming was now unlikely while exceeding 2 degrees is very likely for business-as-usual emissions.

Dr Roger Bodman from Victoria University and Professors David Karoly and Peter Rayner from the University of Melbourne have generated what they say are more reliable projections of global warming estimates at 2100.

This was achieved through a new method combining observations of carbon dioxide and global temperature variations with simple climate model simulations to project future global warming.

Team leader Dr Bodman said while continuing to narrow the range even further was possible, significant uncertainty in warming predictions would always remain due to the complexity of climate change drivers.

'This study ultimately shows why waiting for certainty will fail as a strategy,' he said.  'Some uncertainty will always remain, meaning that we need to manage the risks of warming with the knowledge we have.'

The study found 63% of uncertainty in projected warming was due to single sources – such as climate sensitivity, followed by future behaviour of the carbon cycle and the cooling effect of aerosols – while 37% of uncertainty came from the combination of these sources.

'This means that if any single uncertainty is reduced – even the most important, climate sensitivity – significant uncertainty will remain,' Dr Bodman said.


The journal article (excerpt)

Uncertainty in temperature projections reduced using carbon cycle and climate observations

Roger W. Bodman,     Peter J. Rayner     & David J. Karoly

The future behaviour of the carbon cycle is a major contributor to uncertainty in temperature projections for the twenty-first century1, 2. Using a simplified climate model3, we show that, for a given emission scenario, it is the second most important contributor to this uncertainty after climate sensitivity, followed by aerosol impacts.

Historical measurements of carbon dioxide concentrations4 have been used along with global temperature observations5 to help reduce this uncertainty. This results in an increased probability of exceeding a 2 °C global–mean temperature increase by 2100 while reducing the probability of surpassing a 6 °C threshold for non-mitigation scenarios such as the Special Report on Emissions Scenarios A1B and A1FI scenarios6, as compared with projections from the Fourth Assessment Report7 of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Climate sensitivity, the response of the carbon cycle and aerosol effects remain highly uncertain but historical observations of temperature and carbon dioxide imply a trade–off between them so that temperature projections are more certain than they would be considering each factor in isolation.

As well as pointing out the promise from the formal use of observational constraints in climate projection, this also highlights the need for an holistic view of uncertainty.


1 comment:

Paul said...

As a complete irrelevance, Toyota HiLux trucks used to be sold in Germany through VW dealers as the Volkswagen Taro. You could also at one time get Passat saloons made in Japan by Nissan.