Feds’ interest in luxury cars a boon to consumers
FAR FROM GOVERNMENT LARGESSE, CANADIAN DEPARTMENTS DO TESTING THAT OTHER U. S. OUTFITS COULD MISS
You’ ll be relieved to know the federal government’s Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation did not use your tax dollars to purchase any make of Porsche, Lexus, Mercedes, Tesla, BMW, Lamborghini or Ferrari since Nov. 4, 2015. Whew.
While the country’s selfanointed alt- media source, Rebel Media, continued to fart in a metal bucket and enjoy the noise, the cherrypicking of facts received under the Access to Information Act also continued to provide similar useless entertainment.
If consumer goods are to be regulated and tested to maintain any kind of safety and integrity in the marketplace, then it is up to good government to foster the most stringent grounds for testing that it can. And yes folks, that costs money. Perhaps you’d be happier monitoring your own water contaminants or Listeria outbreaks, or perhaps you don’t bother with all those pesky recalls when they do occur. Or perhaps you’re happy to let a manufacturer, even one as well storied and famous as Volkswagen, stamp their own seal of approval on their products. I mean, how could that go wrong?
They say if you ask the right question, you can get any answer you desire. By asking current Liberal government agencies if they’d purchased any vehicle that was one of the seven listed up top that came to more than $ 50,000, they could basically make a birthday cake out of entitlement, ice it in spoiled brat and light it on fire. Except the agency that made the purchases — Environment and Climate Change Canada — is tasked with knowing what any car is belching out, and if it adheres to Canadian law. The agency actually purchased, new or used, 47 cars ranging in cost from $ 11,020 to $ 96,724 to test for emissions. They are duly sold at government auction when testing is concluded.
Noooooo! s cream t he Up In Arms brigade. Borrow those cars! Rent those cars! Get the manufacturers to give you those cars! Except testing can take time and modifications are often made during that testing. And if one lesson has been learned the hard way, it’s been that letting a manufacturer provide a product of their own choosing for independent tests will means you get one that is, well, whatever the maker chooses it to be.
Restaurant reviewers go to great extremes to protect their identities so they can deliver a true glimpse i nto how you, a normal person, will be treated. The Automobile Protection Association ( APA) does undercover work with W- 5 and produces the most revealing underbelly of the auto industry dealing with consumer protection. Without this secrecy, this stealth, you don’t get the truth, you get a glossy advertisement. As for the ridiculous focus on the cars the agency purchased? “Given that the European brands ( Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Fiat, Porsche and VW) are up to their ears in allegations or lawsuits over cheating on emissions tests, it is absolutely correct to target those brands f or testing from a risk- reduction perspective,” says George Iny, president of the APA.
The VW emissions scandals ripped apart the diesel industry. Diesel in passenger vehicles was for years touted as the missing link, our bridge from gasoline to, well, everything else. Who needs electrics or hybrids when we have clean diesel? Diesel, complete with little green leaves on the dash to remind us we’re not just not polluting, but we’re also practically scrubbing the air clean around us. Except it was a lie.
And i t wasn’t the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA), or the Canadian equivalent that discovered the deception, it was three university research students deep in the woods in West Virginia who did. They realized they couldn’t adequately t est for emissions with a skint budget in an area that had no diesels in rental fleets, and they soon found they couldn’t beg or borrow any, so they went to California, where they could do both. Cars not s upplied by a manufacturer.
Nobody was more surprised t han t hose t hree mechanical engineering students, Arvind Thiruvengadem, Hemanth Kappanna and Marc Besch.
“It’s not that there was suspicion. On the contrary,” says Thiruvengadem. “We were j ust ver y c urious. These diesel emission technologies were quite new. And we knew they worked on paper. But t hey had never been tested in passenger cars under real driving conditions.”
The car you drive now originally came with a sticker in the window telling you what kind of fuel economy you could expect. You probably realized with a couple of tanks of fuel that those numbers were arrived at by asking a leprechaun to pick a number between one and 20; fuel economy numbers, with few exceptions, are so skewed as to be rigged to achieve pre- ordained outcomes. Consumer uproar forced some more realistic numbers to start emerging over the past five years or so, but the plunge is back on as we once again get complacent.
You can’t demand a government hold the feet of major manufacturers to the fire if you are going to simultaneously remove the tools they need to maintain the flame.
Nearly 80 agencies responded in the negative to the “have you bought a Lamborghini” question, though there were a smattering of Mercedes purchases, in the form of Sprinters — those sexiest of sexy panel vans — that were bought for the National Defence and RCMP departments, which is impossible to argue against. Lots of John Deeres showed up to be counted, and not nearly enough big pickups, if you ask someone who has travelled across this country.
The vehicles purchased by the Canadian government look like they should. To get up on your hind legs about an agency doing its job — protecting our citizens and environment from potential corporate fraud — makes you look like an ass.
APA’s George Iny offers something to think about.
“Why is government public relations so inept that it can’t make a simple case like this one? The public health and environmental benefits of a well- run emissi ons program with enforced standards far outweigh the costs of purchase and disposal of a couple of dozen cars a year,” Iny says.
“For an example of what can happen when complacency sets in, you can look at almost any large European city; the air quality has been deteriorating since the early 2000s, despite more stringent standards on the books. Manufacturer certification in private compliance labs is riddled with conflicts. The negative public health impacts are very large.”
No make of Tesla has been purchased by the federal government using tax dollars since November 2015, writes Lorraine Sommerfeld.