Volkswagen finds CO2 problems are more limited than feared

9 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

CompaniesVW slashes tally of cars affected by CO2 probe.

BERLIN — Volkswagen said Wednesday that a problem with carbon dioxide emissions is far smaller than initially suspected, with further checks finding “slight discrepancies” in only a few models and no evidence of illegal changes to fuel consumption and emissions figures. An initial investigation into the Volkswagen Group’s array of cheating scandals has cleared the carmaker of claims it systematically cheated on CO2 figures.

Volkswagen has significantly downgraded the number of cars it believes had inaccurate carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, following an internal investigation. While the investigations continue in the NOx emissions scandal, the more recent inquiry into claims it sold up to 800,000 cars with the wrong CO2 figures has found that only nine VW branded models currently on sale are wrongly calculated.

Shares in VW, which have tumbled 30 per cent this year, were already up by 4.4 per cent in early afternoon trading in Frankfurt after a German newspaper had reported the likely reduction in the scale of the CO2 problem. The company said last month that in addition to the cheating of emissions’ tests in diesels, 800,000 were found to have “inconsistencies” in their CO2 levels and fuel usage. Some analysts had feared the fallout for VW from the CO2 revelations, first disclosed in early November, could be as large as the company’s other emissions scandal involving cheat devices on diesel cars. It confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that only 36,000 cars, covering nine model variants, would need to have their catalogue emission figures raised “by a few grams”. Those deviations amount to “a few grams of CO2 on average,” it said. “These model variants will be re-measured by a neutral technical service under the supervision of the appropriate authority by Christmas,” Volkswagen added.

It is believed at least 11 million models worldwide, including 1.2 million in the UK, contained “defeat devices” – software able to change the engine’s performance and run cleaner during official testing. The affected models on sale are: VW Polo 1.0l TSI BlueMotion 70kW Seven-speed (DSG); VW Scirocco 2.0l TDI BMT 135kW Six-speed manual gearbox; VW Jetta 1.2l TSI BMT 77kW Six-speed manual gearbox; VW Jetta 2.0l TDI BMT 81kW Five-speed manual gearbox; VW Golf Convertible 2.0l TDI BMT 81kW five-speed manual gearbox; VW Golf 2.0l TDI BMT 110kW Six-speed manual gearbox; VW Passat Alltrack 2.0l TSI 4MOTION BMT 162kW Seven-speed (DSG); VW Passat Variant 2.0l TDI SCR 4MOTION BMT 176kW Seven-speed (DSG); and VW Passat Variant 1.4l TSI ACT BMT 110kW Six-speed manual gearbox. It has set aside a total of €6.7bn (£4.8bn) to deal with the fall-out from its trouble but the figure is expected to rise given the cost of recalls, compensation and likely regulatory penalties.

The emissions figures for these cars are believed to be out by one or two grammes, which means not all of the revised CO2 figures will impact on either Vehicle Registration Tax payments or motor tax rates. UK sales of VW cars fell 20% last month, according to industry figures released last week while a larger year-on-year decline was measured in the United States. In Ireland only six of the nine models affected are on sale, as Irish dealers don’t stock the 1-litre petrol engine Polo, Passat Alltrack, or the Golf Convertible.

A statement by Volkswagen said: “The suspicion that the fuel consumption figures of current production vehicles had been unlawfully changed was not confirmed. An internal whistleblower had informed Volkswagen Group chief executive Matthias Müller that an array of its cars were claiming “improbably low” CO2 numbers, which had a direct effect on their tax status in most European countries.

However it now seems the initial investigation report, due to be presented on Thursday by Müller, will show that Volkswagen’s engineering and compliance teams acted within the guidelines for CO2 emissions. The news will come as an enormous boost to the embattled car giant, with 11 million cars affected by its separate four-cylinder diesel NOx emissions-cheating scandal and a newer V6 turbodiesel default-code cheating scandal. The initial CO2 cheat claims, announced in October by Müller, centred around 800,000 Audis, Seats, Skodas and Volkswagen cars and included diesel-powered engines and cylinder-on-demand four-cylinder petrol engines.

It led to Volkswagen being given an ultimatum by the European Commission and into the opening of a criminal investigation by a German public prosecutor. It also forced Volkswagen into high-level negotiations with tax offices around Europe, where officially claimed CO2 figures are used to calculate road tax levels. “There is a list of adjustments that can be made within the rules for CO2 testing and the investigation found that everything that has been done by Volkswagen is within those rules,” a source insisted. “The cars are initially tested as pre-production cars to arrive at an initial CO2 figure and NEDC figure, then they have to be retested again within six months when the full production models are available. The carmaker is still working with the California Air Review Board and the Environmental Protection Agency to deliver fixes for the NOx Dieselgate cars in North America. “In Europe, the limit for NOx is 80 milligrams per kilometre.

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