Volkswagen knew about shady emissions practices years ago

28 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

VW Emissions Scandal Hovers Over German Car Show.

Volkswagen’s recently departed CEO may have been caught off-guard by his company’s attempt to hide true diesel car emissions from regulators, but there are now signs that some VW higher-ups knew the truth. VOLKSWAGEN ignored warnings from staff and a supplier years ago that the emission test rigging software that sparked the company’s worst ever corporate scandal was illegal, newspaper reports say. German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagzeitung claims that technicians had warned about dodgy emissions practices in 2011, while Bild maintains that key supplier Bosch told “top circles” at VW about its emissions concerns back in 2007. German authorities meanwhile heaped pressure on the embattled corporate titan, demanding it set out a timeline by October 7 on how it will ensure its diesel cars meet national emission standards without using the cheat technology. It’s not clear just who knew about the issues and where the buck stops — VW is declining to comment, which isn’t surprising when it’s still in the midst of an investigation into what happened.

The spiralling scandal has badly tarnished VW, left it exposed to billions of dollars in fines in the US and to investigations from Norway to India, while wiping about a third off its stock market value in a week. They don’t necessarily prove that VW set out to cheat emissions tests, but they at least suggest that the automaker either turned a blind eye to the practice or didn’t have enough oversight to curb rogue behavior. Last Friday, after a marathon crisis session, VW’s board tapped company insider Matthias Mueller — chief of its luxury sports car brand Porsche — to steer the world’s largest automaker out of the wreckage.

Mueller, 62, who replaces Martin Winterkorn as CEO, pledged that “we will overcome this crisis” and vowed to restore confidence through “an unsparing investigation and maximum transparency”. But an internal probe has already unearthed more troubling news for VW, as it faces judicial penalties and class action lawsuits, according to German newspaper reports. Bild am Sonntag said auto parts supplier Bosch had produced the device but warned the VW Group as early as 2007 that it was meant for test use only and that using it on the road to fake emission levels would be illegal.

And according to the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS), a VW employee had also sounded the alarm in 2011, warning that the software may spell an “infringement” of the law. You’ll get to keep your current user name (as long as it doesn’t contain invalid characters, in which case you’ll have to go through a few extra steps to make the transfer), and all your old comments will eventually (not immediately) migrate with you. He says it’s just a matter of time before they’re discovered. “It’s normal in our time, I think,” he says. “It’s not a good thing, and it’s good that it is found, but in 20 or 30 years, we do not speak about cars with fuel, only with electricity.

If Volkswagen fails to comply, the KBA warned in a two-page letter, the authority could withdraw approval for the affected models, meaning they could no longer be sold or even moved on German roads, the report said. A VW spokesman said the company would soon present an action plan in Germany and “announce when we expect to launch a recall” that would include a software update, adding that “we are working at full throttle”.

The European Commission said on Friday that a new testing procedure will come into force in January, because the current laboratory tests do “not reflect the emissions of vehicles in normal driving conditions”.

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