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James Dyson says there’s a VW-style scandal in the vacuum industry

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You can add vacuum cleaners to the list of consumer goods implicated in energy efficiency scandals. According to claims made by Dyson founder James Dyson, Bosch and Siemens vacuums have been cheating EU energy tests in a manner "akin to that seen in the Volkswagen scandal." Dyson has launched legal action against both the companies, reports the Press Association, following his claims earlier this month that European regulations are simply "a smokescreen for manufacturers to hide behind."

"This behavior is seriously misleading."

"Bosch has installed control electronics into some of its machines to wrongfully increase energy consumption when in use — to cheat the EU energy label," said Dyson. "It seems that industry is rife with manufacturers engineering to find their way around tests, rather than engineering better, more efficient technology. This behavior is seriously misleading customers."

However, it's possible that regulatory incompetence rather than corporate skulduggery is to blame. Dyson claims that vacuums made by Bosch and Siemens use internal sensors to increase their energy usage from 750W to 1,600W when their bags are full. However, Dyson also claims that the EU's tests are conducted using empty bags. This would mean that the regulators might not even notice the energy increase, leading to the vacuums being awarded their current AAAA ratings.

Corporate skulduggery or regulatory incompetence?

Bosch, for its part, has "strenuously rejected" the allegations, claiming in a press statement: "All Bosch and Siemens vacuum cleaners are measured in compliance with European energy regulations. Appliance performance at home is consistent with laboratory performance — and any suggestion to the contrary is grossly misleading."

Earlier this month, Dyson is reported to have launched a broadside attack against European regulatory tests in general. "[There are] fridges tested with no food, vacuum cleaners tested with no dust, and washing machines tested at inaccurate temperatures," said Dyson in comments reported by The Telegraph. "The regulators clearly live in a place that looks nothing like the real world and manufacturers are taking advantage."

Dyson's allegations follow not only the Volkswagen scandal, but also recent claims that Samsung's TVs have been cheating energy efficiency tests as well. (Something the company strongly denies.) These incidents, though, are part of wider trend which might be dubbed the "internet of paranoia," with previously dumb objects now imbued with the software and connectivity to cheat not only regulatory tests, but consumers as well.


Verge Video: The Volkswagen scandal, explained