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The Opus Inspection Emissions Industry Newsletter
October 2015 
 

Dear Opus Inspection Customers:

 

Welcome to the October 2015 edition of our quarterly newsletter. We’ve combed a number of publications, blogs, and websites in search of articles that you will find both interesting and informative. I hope you enjoy it. This is your resource, so please feel free to share your comments and suggestions for improvement.
And, of course, thank you for choosing Opus Inspection!
Sincerely,
Chris Smith
VP Operations

Opus Inspection, Inc.
Press Contact: Lothar Geilen, CEO, Opus Inspection, Inc. Lothar.geilen@opusinspection.com
IN THIS ISSUE

In this Issue…
While the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal dominated emission industry news this quarter (see below), we have plenty of other stories to share with you.
 
Opus Inspection is pleased to announce the addition of two more concessions awarded to our subsidiary in Chile. Also, Opus Inspection president Jim Sands reacts to the EPA’s announcement of the new ground-level ozone standard. Check out The Latest from Opus Inspection below.
Feature Story
EPA charges Volkswagen used software to cheat on air pollution rules.
This is the story that broke nationally on 9/18: After touting their diesel models as clean and fuel efficient, Volkswagen was caught rigging their pollution control systems. These software “defeat devices” enabled the system to operate properly only during emissions testing, while allowing vehicles to spew up to 40 times the acceptable levels of pollutants on the road. The deceit, first discovered more than a year ago by a firm engaged by a West Virginia university, has triggered a full investigation by the US EPA and State of California. Recalls and staggering fines are possible, along with lawsuits from angry consumers duped into believing they were buying clean, compliant vehicles. As this Washington Post story indicates, Volkswagen is not the first automaker to be caught using defeat device technology.
Washington Post (includes video)
Also:
  • Opus Inspection consultant Peter M. McClintock advocates a better method for obtaining true emissions readings;
  • In wake of VW scandal, France vows to launch their own investigation, and Mazda’s development of a new diesel engine may suffer further delays;
  • EPA announces new ground-level ozone standard;
  • A look at what can kill off a perfectly good car battery;
  • Enforcement news from Massachusetts and Georgia;
  • A new section for stories focusing on vehicle safety;
  • Maryland announces new self-service inspection kiosks; and
  • Truck service and utility bodies receive an overdue tribute.

Testing & Regulations
Noted expert advocates deterring emissions cheaters by measuring pollution where it occurs
Opus Inspection consultant Peter M. McClintock argues that the best way to counter the rigging of pollution controls by Volkswagen and other manufacturers is not by implementing costly improvements to emissions tests and emission control software. Instead, McClintock advocates a “truly independent emissions-testing system that measures pollution where it occurs, on the open road, and not just in a laboratory or emissions-testing station.” Remote sensing technology, currently implemented in states such as Colorado and Virginia, may offer the best real-world solution. McClintock explains why. The New York Times
 
EPA’s announced ground-level ozone rule sparks strong reactions from all sides
National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone limits have been reduced from the current level of 75 parts per billion (ppb) down to 70 ppb. The EPA had been considering lowering limits to somewhere in the 60 to 70 ppb range. Ground-level ozone is responsible for some of the more severe health risks among vulnerable populations, and environmentalists maintain lowering limits to 60 to 65 ppb would have done far more to save lives. However, industry groups say that even at 70 ppb the new standard will adversely impact the economy. The EPA predicts that most counties with emissions programs already in place will be able to meet the new standard by 2025. NPR
Opus Inspection acknowledges EPA announcement of new ground-level ozone standard: see The Latest from Opus Inspection, below.
Asia
Motorists in Sri Lanka learn how emissions tests help save fuel
Since mandatory emission testing legislation first passed in 2008, Sri Lanka has been maintaining static ambient air quality levels despite an increase in the nation’s vehicle population. Not only is testing credited with helping to maintain clean skies, inspection time has offered an effective venue for educating motorists.  Along with inspection results, inspectors have been providing each motorist with an Estimated Fuel Efficiency Report, which serves as an effective guide for alerting motorists about how proper maintenance can provide significant benefits in fuel economy. Jurisdictions in Sri Lanka perform annual emissions testing as well as roadside emissions monitoring. The Nation
Europe
Reacting to VW charges, French officials launch emissions investigation of their own
France’s environment minister Ségolène Royal says her agency will be launching a full investigation into whether emissions fraud has occurred in the country. Diesel cars represent about half of global sales for France’s two major car makers, Renault SA and PSA Peugeot Citroen. Royal has spoken to the US EPA regarding the specifics of the Volkswagen case, and has directed the French emissions testing agency to confer with the EPA on techniques for tackling emissions fraud. MarketWatch

Link to article

 

Equipment, Tools & Gear
VW’s shadow looms over Mazda’s plans for a new US compliant diesel engine
Engineers at Mazda have been developing the Skyactive-D engine in line with US emissions standards. The challenge is building an emissions compliant diesel vehicle without sacrificing performance. Diesel engines run with higher combustion pressures, necessitating heavier, industrial-strength parts that tend to adversely impact performance, as well as expensive after-treatment systems for handling nitrogen oxide emissions. Those challenges have impacted Mazda’s timeline, and now company officials are concerned that fallout from the recent Volkswagen emissions scandal will cause regulators to raise the bar, making the challenge of producing diesel vehicle even more difficult. At least one analyst wonders why Mazda even needs a diesel entry for the US market: competitors have focused on electrics and hybrids. Bloomberg via MSN Money
Why, oh, why did my battery die?
The battery remains a vital workhorse for the modern automobile. Generally a car’s

Photo: Yahoo Autos

battery can be expected to start engines and run accessories for 3 to 4 years, but certain conditions can act to shorten its lifespan. Common causes of premature battery failure include extreme temperatures (think Arizona summers or Minnesota winters), faulty charging systems, and too many short trips. Prevention, say the pros, include keeping to a regular maintenance schedule, and being aware of things (such as interior lights that stay on when they shouldn’t) that could contribute to early battery death. Yahoo Autos

Enforcement
VW’s emissions cheating scandal: how it all came to light
When questions were raised about nitrogen oxides being emitted by European diesel vehicles, a small nongovernmental organization commissioned a study from West Virginia University, initiating a long chain of events that would eventually lead to a Volkswagen official admitting that the carmaker had been intentionally cheating through so-called “defeat devices.” This article from The Detroit News describes how it all happened. The Detroit News
 
Massachusetts: Auto body business nabbed by joint enforcement operation
Target of state task force. Photo: Valley Patriot

Twenty-two fraudulent emission inspections netted Western Avenue Auto Body of Lynn, Inc., a total of $44,000, but not in profits: the 44 grand was a penalty imposed by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). The Boston area business was caught performing the fraudulent inspections over a five day period in 2013, thanks to an investigation undertaken by the Massachusetts Environmental Strike Force (ESF) and MassDEP’s Inspection & Maintenance Program. MassDEP did agree to stay Western Avenue Auto Body’s emissions inspection license suspension for two years, provided no additional violations occur. It also turns out that in addition to cleaning up their vehicle inspection act, the business also needs to clean up its hazardous waste management practices. Valley Patriot (Andover, MA)

Link to article

Georgia: Repeat offenders earn prison time
Nathaniel Johnson had only been released from prison in February after serving a portion of his two-year sentence for vehicle inspection fraud which involved clean-scanning. According to the Georgia Attorney General’s office, upon his release Johnson couldn’t wait to get back into the inspection fraud business. He was investigated in May 2015 for issuing fraudulent waivers, complete with forged signatures. Johnson pled guilty in August, and was sentenced to five years in prison, along with a hefty probation period. Johnson also pled guilty to violating his probation and possessing a firearm, and remains under indictment on firearm and drug charges. Meanwhile, Daniel Lawson, who was sentenced with Johnson in 2014 but received only probation, pled guilty to making false statements and was again sentenced with Johnson, though this time his offenses netted him a year in prison. The repeat offenders were sentenced by Cobb County Superior Court Judge A. Gregory Poole following an investigation by the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The Office of Attorney General of Georgia Sam Olens

Link to article

Focus on Safety
Utah: Newspaper defends keeping State’s safety inspection program
Safety inspections help get unsafe vehicles off the road, but all things considered: are they really necessary? Utah has scaled back the State’s safety inspection program, and at least one legislator, prompted by a federal report that failed to prove that inspections actually decrease accidents, is considering legislation to drop the program. But this editorial makes the point that the argument should not be made on the basis of decreasing accidents, which employs a set of criteria subject to numerous mitigating factors beyond safety (such as cell phone use). Indeed, unless data comes in that proves inspections have zero benefit, removing unsafe vehicles from Utah’s roads still makes plenty of sense. The Salt Lake Tribune
Michigan: More thoughts about safety inspections
Michigan attorney David Mittleman weighs in on the safety inspection discussion in this opinion piece. Mittleman notes that while equipment failure is recorded as a factor in a small percentage of accidents, vehicle inspections still alert drivers of safety-related failures, thereby ensuring safer vehicles on the road. The Legal Examiner (Lansing, MI)
North America: Annual campaign focuses on commercial vehicle brake safety
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance held their annual Brake Safety Week in September. According to the press release quoted in the article, “the annual outreach and enforcement campaign was created in partnership with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and involves law enforcement agencies across North America. Inspectors will conduct roadside inspections of commercial trucks and buses to look for missing, loose, or worn parts; air or hydraulic fluid leaks; and other issues with brake systems.” During 2014’s Brake Safety Week, 2,162 vehicles were pulled out of service for brake violations. (Results for 2015 have not yet been released on CVSA website-Ed.) Safety + Health (NSC-National Safety Council)

Link to article

State News
Maryland: Governor Hogan touts debut of 2 new VEIP self-service inspection kiosks
Convenient Vehicle Emission Inspection Program (VEIP) self-service kiosks have

Motorist checks out new VEIP self-service kiosk. Photo: MyMCMedia

been installed in two locations as part of a one-year pilot program designed to gauge operational benefits and public acceptance. The new program, using OBD testing technology, is jointly administered by the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE). The new kiosks are located at the Glen Burnie VEIP station and at the Gaithersburg MVA branch office, and are available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. Opus Inspection’s Environmental Systems Products (ESP) is the day-to-day contractor for the vehicle inspection program, which operates 18 centralized VEIP stations in 13 counties and Baltimore City. MyMCMedia (Montgomery Community Media, Montgomery County, MD)

   

The Latest From Opus Inspection
Opus Inspection acknowledges EPA’s announcement of new ground-level ozone standard
On October 1, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) strengthened the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone to 70 parts per billion (ppb) from 75 ppb.
    “Put simply, ozone pollution means it hurts to breathe for those most vulnerable: our kids, our elderly and those suffering from heart and lung ailments,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Our job is to set science-backed standards that protect the health of the American people. Today’s action is one of the most important measures we can take for improving public health, reducing the costs of illness and protecting our children’s health.” (From EPA News Release:
     Two years from now the EPA will issue final area designations, which classify air pollution severity.  Some States will have until 2020 to come into attainment; other, heavier polluted States (in particular California and Texas), will have until 2037 to bring current ozone levels in polluted areas securely below 70 ppb.  EPA reviews ground-level ozone standards every five years.  (EPA source:
     Establishing mandatory vehicle emission testing programs is among the tools that states may include in their State Implementation Plans.  “We are pleased with the EPA announcement today,” said Jim Sands, president of Opus Inspection.  “We will be monitoring the progress of the states toward implementing plans to attain the new ozone standard, and look forward to working with our state and county customers on existing I/M programs and possibly newly required actions.”
State of Missouri cancels procurement
The State of Missouri Division of Purchasing and Materials Management announced that, “due to the ambiguity of the published evaluation criteria, Purchasing will cancel the award of RFP B2Z15024 and rebid to obtain the required services.”
     “As the incumbent contractor for the Gateway Vehicle Inspection Program (GVIP) in Missouri, we are committed to the continuation of the program and supporting our Missouri customers,” said Jim Sands, President of Opus Inspection.  “We look forward to participating in the next procurement when it is issued.”
     Opus Inspection annually manages 1,100,000 inspections in the GVIP counties in and around St. Louis.  The company supports inspection equipment in approximately 800 independent inspection stations.  Opus Inspection has been the GVIP contractor since 2007.
 
Opus Inspection awarded two more concessions in Chile
(August 14, 2015) The Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications (MTT) in Chile has announced that Opus Inspection’s subsidiary in Chile will be awarded a concession to design, build, and operate vehicle inspection stations in Santiago de Chile (Region Metropolitana).  Under the eight year contract, the company will establish three modern inspection stations in the metropolitan area of Santiago.
     “We are pleased that for the third time now, the MTT selected our company for the award as a result of a public tender,” said Jim Sands, President of Opus Inspection.  “Together with the two concessions already awarded in neighboring regions, our new inspection stations in the Greater Santiago area strengthen our position in the Chile vehicle inspection business.  We are looking forward to working with the MTT to implement a successful new inspection program.”
The new inspection stations in Region Metropolitana will perform about 125,000 roadworthiness and emissions inspections per year at a fee of CLP 7,900 per inspection.  The contract is expected to start generating revenues in the second part of 2016.
     A month before the Region Metropolitana announcement, the MTT announced that Opus Inspection’s subsidiary in Chile was awarded a concession to design, build, and operate vehicle inspection stations in Region O’Higgins.  Under the eight year contract, the company will establish two modern inspection stations in the cities of Rancagua and San Vicente. The new inspection stations in Region O’Higgins will perform over 100,000 road worthiness inspections per year at a fee of CLP 7,250 per inspection.  The contract is expected to start generating revenues in the second part of 2016.
  
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Off The Beaten Track
Who knew truck service and utility bodies were cool?
Have you been to the Truck Body Hall of Fame? No? Well, that’s because there isn’t one. But after reading Ronald Ahrens’ brief history of truck mounted service and utility bodies, complete with plenty of photos, you may well feel there should be one. TruckTrend

Link to article

1948 Ford truck with classic Coke body. Photo: Ronald Ahrens
Opus Inspection, Inc., established in 1999, is part of the Opus Group and provides turnkey vehicle inspection program management services, including vehicle information databases, and advanced emission and safety test systems to various levels of government agencies (federal, state and regional) and to individual inspection stations. The Opus Group is in the business of developing, producing and selling products and services within Automotive Test Equipment, Vehicle Inspection Systems and Fleet Management for the global market. The products include emission analyzers, diagnostic equipment, and automatic test lines. Services include management of mandatory vehicle inspection programs. The Group sells its products and services in more than 50 countries all over the world and currently employs around 900 persons. Opus’ shares are listed on NASDAQ OMX Stockholm under the ticker OPUS.