Volkswagen admits 11 million of its cars around the world may be affected by scandal surrounding its alleged manipulation of diesel emissions tests
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has called on the European Commission to investigate global car manufacturer Volkswagen over fears that sophisticated software may be installed on certain diesel cars to circumvent emissions tests.
The Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed afternoon (September 22) that the Mr McLoughlin MP was pushing for an EU investigation into the “Volkswagen diesel issueâ€? and explained that the UK was “already pushing at EU level for more accurate testsâ€?.
It follows Volkswagen’s admission today that the diesel car software allegedly used to “circumventâ€? US air pollution emissions standards may have been fitted to as many as 11 million vehicles worldwide.
However, UK motor industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has sought to reassure consumers that the scandal is “not an industry-wide issue” and that unlike in the US, the EU carries out indepedent emissions tests.
SMMT said: “The UK automotive industry understands the concerns consumers may have following the actions of one manufacturer in regard to emissions testing and the subsequent decision to recall a large number of its cars. This is, however, an issue affecting just one company and there is no evidence to suggest that any other company is involved, let alone that this is an industry-wide issue.
“Consumers should be reassured that cars sold in the UK must comply with strict European laws. All cars must complete a standard emissions test, which, unlike in the US, is independently witnessed by a government-appointed independent agency.”
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a “sophisticated software algorithmâ€? used on certain Volkswagen cars in the US means that they may be emitting 40 times the legally permitted amount of nitrogen oxides.
The world’s biggest selling carmaker said it is “working at full speed to clarify irregularities concerning a particular software used in diesel enginesâ€? and that it “does not tolerate any kind of violation of laws whatsoeverâ€?.
The EPA has already issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen, alleging that the company fitted several VW and Audi diesel models with a “defeat deviceâ€? to evade clean air standards, which is “illegal and a threat to public healthâ€?.
The scandal has prompted an outright apology from the firm’s chief executive Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, and Volkswagen has been ordered to recall 500,000 cars in the US and faces potential fines of up to $18 billion (£11.73 billion), severely knocking the global firm’s share price.
In addition, it has prompted calls for an investigation into whether some VW diesel cars are also infringing emissions testing rules in Europe (see AirQualityNews.com story).
The company affirmed today that new Volkswagen Group vehicles with Euro 6 diesel engines currently available in the European Union “comply with legal requirements and environmental standardsâ€? and that the software in question “does not affect handling, consumption or emissionsâ€?.
However, it explained that “further internal investigationsâ€? have established that the software is installed “in other Volkswagen Group vehicles with diesel enginesâ€? – specifically Type EA 189 engines.
And, while “for the majority of these engines the software does not have any effectâ€?, the firm admitted that the software involves around 11 million vehicles worldwide, prompting fears that drivers of older Volkswagen vehicles in the UK and Europe could be among those affected.
In a statement, the company said: “A noticeable deviation between bench test results and actual road use was established solely for this type of engine. Volkswagen is working intensely to eliminate these deviations through technical measures. The company is therefore in contact with the relevant authorities and the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA – Kraftfahrtbundesamt).â€?
The firm has said it is setting aside 6.5 billion euros (£4.7 billion) in order to “cover the necessary service measures and other efforts to win back the trust of our customersâ€?.
The company added: “Volkswagen does not tolerate any kind of violation of laws whatsoever. It is and remains the top priority of the Board of Management to win back lost trust and to avert damage to our customers. The Group will inform the public on the further progress of the investigations constantly and transparently.â€?
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