‘More VW heads to roll’ after US emissions cheat scandal

Published: Friday 25th September 2015 by The News Editor

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More Volkswagen bosses are expected to fall on their swords as the German car giant’s supervisory board meets over the rigging of emissions tests in the US.

Meanwhile it emerged that the software at the centre of VW’s emissions scandal in the US was also built into the company’s cars in Europe as well, Germany said, though it is not yet clear if it helped cheat tests as it did in America.

A day after long-time chief executive Martin Winterkorn resigned over the scandal, a member of VW’s supervisory board said he expected more executives to step down. The board could announce new resignations as well as a new CEO when it meets today.

The US Environmental Protection Agency disclosed on Friday that stealth software made VW’s 2009-2015 models powered by 2.0-litre diesel engines run cleaner during emissions tests than in actual driving.

The EPA accused VW of installing the so-called “defeat device” in 482,000 cars sold in the United States. VW later acknowledged that similar software exists in 11 million diesel cars worldwide and set aside 6.5 billion euros (£4.7bn) to cover the costs of the scandal.

The company has told officials that the vehicles in question included VW cars with 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesel engines in Europe, German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt said.

“We don’t yet have figures for how many of these 11 million cars that are apparently affected are in Europe,” he said. “That will be cleared up in the next few days.”

Authorities will continue working with Volkswagen to determine what cars are involved.

It is not yet clear to what extent the scandal affects other brands in the Volkswagen Group, which has 12 brands in all, including Seat, Audi, Skoda and Porsche. It was also not clear whether the software would have led to VW cheating on emissions tests outside the US as well.

Mr Dobrindt set up a commission of inquiry this week to look into the scandal. The motor transport authority is conducting static and road tests on Volkswagen models and spot tests on cars made by other manufacturers, German and foreign.

In neighbouring France, environment minister Segolene Royal announced random tests of about 100 French cars to ensure that their engines met pollution standards in the wake of Volkswagen’s emissions scandal.

And the European Union’s executive commission called on national authorities “to look into the implications for vehicles sold in Europe and ensure that EU pollutant emission standards are scrupulously respected”.

Attorney generals in at least 27 US states and Washington DC announced they would jointly investigate VW’s representations to consumers and would send subpoenas to the company, according to the Michigan Attorney General’s Office.

Olaf Lies, economy and transport minister of VW’s home state Lower Saxony, which holds a 20% stake in the company, said the investigation into the scandal was only just starting.

“There must be people responsible for allowing the manipulation of emission levels to happen,” he said.

Mr Winterkorn said on Wednesday he took responsibility for the “irregularities” found by US inspectors in VW’s diesel engines, but insisted he had personally done nothing wrong.

VW is filing a criminal complaint with German prosecutors, seeking to identify those responsible for any illegal actions in connection with the scandal.

Other car companies have seen their shares drop, too, though there have been no allegations they cheated emissions tests.

Shares in BMW dropped 5.2% to close at 75.68 euros after Germany’s Auto Bild magazine reported that road tests by the International Council on Clean Transportation showed the BMW X3 xdrive model exceeding European emissions limits by more than 11 times. It did not say what the cause for the alleged problem was.

BMW said it was not familiar with the test and would ask the ICCT for clarification. It said “the BMW Group does not manipulate or rig any emissions tests”.

Published: Friday 25th September 2015 by The News Editor

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