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VW may be sorry, but ‘rolling coal’ diesel polluters make no apologies

While Volkswagen executives turn on a spit, apologizing for their role in the ongoing diesel emissions cheating scandal, another group of polluters isn’t sorry at all.

They’re the “rolling coal” guys, who use aftermarket software programs and other devices to turn their EPA-approved diesel pickup trucks into smoke-spewing monsters.

They deploy hideous clouds of black exhaust by hitting a switch, stomping on the gas and enshrouding an unsuspecting Prius -- as in this video.

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The practice, known as “chipping,” is said to increase horsepower and torque and improve fuel efficiency -- with no concern for emissions. Online retailers such as RealTruck.com or the appropriately named BlackCloudDiesel.com sell, for several hundred dollars, kits designed to modify the emissions control systems installed by the manufacturers Ram, Ford and GMC trucks.

Proprietors of those companies did not return phone calls or answer emails. But their websites offer guidance.

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“Diesel performance chips can totally transform the pulling power of your diesel pickup or SUV,” explains one website. “Diesel computer chips change the factory timing, boost control, transmission shift points, and other parameters to extract maximum horsepower and torque from your oil burner. Diesel computer chips are designed to make the most out of designed-in power boosts — basically, diesel computer chips engineer out the compromises built in to your software.”

The result? The driver is now able to expel, on command, a massive cloud of diesel smoke. Videos available on YouTube suggest that those partaking in the practice are simply interested in telling the world how they feel about environmental limits on their trucks. Some target pedestrians. Others smoke out cyclists.

Truck manufacturers and clean air experts are aghast.

The stuff that’s designed to roll coal, there’s no way that’s going to be legal.

John Swanson of California’s Air Resource Board

Swanson added: “Anything that’s a modification to a pollution control system is illegal, unless the manufacturer of that product has gone through our process to show it has no adverse iimpact on the emissions control of the vehicle.”

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So are diesel technology supporters.

By no means do we advocate this.

Ezra Finkin, policy director for the Diesel Technology Forum

Finkin explained: “Automobile manufacturers have invested billions of dollars into technology to reduce tailpipe emissions while maintaining fuel economy. This circumvents that.”

The practice appears to be related to what Volkswagen has admitted doing with 2.0-liter diesel engines installed in some model year 2009 to 2015 Beetles, Jettas, Passats and Golfs.

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On those vehicles, a “defeat device” was used to trick emissions testing equipment into thinking the vehicles were compliant with air quality regulations.

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On the “rolling coal” vehicles, no such trickery is involved, and the trucks are not pretending to control pollution -- polluting is the point, as seen in this smokin’ hot video.

It’s not clear how many trucks are involved. One truck manufacturer called the group “a niche inside a niche.”

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But diesel trucks are selling. In 2014, Ram sold 112,820 diesel trucks, Ford sold 118,245, Jeep sold 11,260 grand Cherokees, Chevy sold 69,372 and GMC sold 33,783 Sierras, according to research from online car seller TrueCar.

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