German transport minister reportedly confirms certain Volkswagen vehicles in Europe have also been involved in manipulated emissions testing
Volkswagen has reportedly admitted that wide-scale manipulation of diesel emissions tests for some of its cars in the US has also taken place in Europe, as a parliamentary committee of UK MPs considers launching an inquiry into the issue.
German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt reportedly said today (September 24) that Volkswagen had told him diesel vehicles in Europe with engines of 1.6 and 2.0 litres have also been affected by emissions test manipulation software, although he did not say how many.
The scandal first broke last week when Volkswagen apologised for installing sophisticated software in a number of its diesel cars. The software was reportedly designed to manipulate tests so that diesel emissions would appear to be lower during testing than in reality (see AirQualityNews.com story).
Prof. Der. Winterkorn subsequently resigned as Volkswagen Group chief executive yesterday (September 23), commenting that he was “stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Groupâ€? but was “not aware of any wrong doing on my partâ€?.
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 carmaker later revealed that the software may have been installed on as many as 11 million cars worldwide, prompting a plunge in its share price as it faces potential fines of $18 billion (£11.73 billion) from the EPA.
However, there are a great deal many more diesel drivers in Europe than in the US, and the UK Department for Transport yesterday called for an EU-wide investigation into whether any malpractice has also taken place in Europe.
An inquiry into the matter is now being considered by the House of Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) after the UK parliament returns from recess in October.
EAC chair, Huw Irranca-Davies MP, said that VW customers in the UK and across the EU “deserve urgent reassurance that they have not been deceived by VW or other automotive manufacturersâ€?.
He added that “we need to know from our government that the reported vehicle emissions in the UK are accurate, that no deception similar to that in the US has taken place, and that our emissions-testing regime is rigorous and secureâ€?.
Mr Irranca-Davies said: “The impact of poor air quality on health and mortality is already a scandal in the UK and in many of our major cities, and emissions from diesel vehicles are the prime culprit. The new Environment Audit Committee will discuss whether to examine these matters in the coming weeks.â€?
There are also concerns that other car manufacturers may have attempted to circumvent emissions tests in some way and that the scandal goes beyond just Volkswagen.
But Rival German carmaker BMW Group said in a statement that it “does not manipulate or rig any emissions tests. We observe the legal requirements in each country and adhere to all local testing requirementsâ€?.
UK motor industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has meanwhile sought to reassure consumers and said that the VW scandal was “not an industry-wide issueâ€?, citing differences in EU emissions tests in comparison to the US.
And, the Diesel Technology Forum – a US organisation ‘dedicated to raising awareness of diesel engines’ – said that despite the revelations about Volkswagen malpractice, diesel is “a proven technologyâ€? with a “unique combination of efficiency, power, reliability, performance, low-emissions and suitability for using renewable fuelsâ€?.