VW Diesel Emissions Scandal Deepens, As Report Finds Several Versions of Cheating Software in Cars
Volkswagen’s efforts to cheat on emissions standards involved a sophisticated and well tested operation, which resulted in multiple versions of the “defeat device” software being installed on TDI diesel vehicles in recent years, according reports from insiders with the German auto manufacturer.
In an investigative report published on Saturday, Reuters indicates that three people familiar with the VW diesel emissions scandal state that the software used to cheat on emissions tests were altered over the seven years the program was in existence, so that it could be compatible with the different vehicles. This suggests that the deception was an even more complex program than was previously believed.
Volkswagen has admitted that it installed software known as a “defeat device” on a total of 11 million vehicles sold worldwide, including about 482,000 in the United States, which caused the vehicles to reduce emissions only while it is being tested.
Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took action that led to a Volkswagen TDI diesel recall, impacting various VW Jetta, VW Golf, VW Beetle, VW Passat and Audi A3 vehicles equipped with TDI diesel engines since 2009.
Earlier this month, VW Chief Executive Matthias Mueller told German media that it would begin updating the software and fixing the vehicles in January, with all recall repairs expected to be complete by the end of next year. However, it is unclear whether that schedule will apply to vehicles sold in the U.S., as Volkswagen has to meet more stringent standards set by the EPA.
The EPA says the company could face up to $18 billion in fines, and a number of key company employees at the auto maker have stepped down or been fired amid the scandal.
If several versions of the software existed, then some industry experts told Reuters that means that a range of employees were involved, and those employee projects had to be regularly funded by the company.
The bigger the program was, the higher it was likely to go up the company’s chain of command, which could have a significant effect on the fines levied against Volkswagen, its liability, and public perceptions.
Regulators and lawmakers from the U.S. and abroad have already said that some of the company’s claims that only a handful of rogue software engineers were involved stretched their credulity.
The issue has also stretched the EPA’s trust in the auto industry. Previously, the emissions testing was done with the assumption that auto makers were not trying to cheat, according to Consumers Reports. However, after the VW emissions scandal has come to light, the agency is now collecting diesel cars from numerous manufacturers and intends to test as many as possible for indications of defeat device software.
VW Emission Problems Deepen
Shares for VW have dropped by a third since the scandal began, with many accusing the company of gross hypocrisy given its claim to be devoted to environmental standards. Some experts predict the company will show a loss for its auto division this year.
In addition to fines, loss of stock value, and the actual cost of recalling and fixing the affected vehicles, not to mention likely damage to sales of new vehicles, the company also faces a growing number of Volkswagen diesel emissions lawsuits.
In the U.S., dozens of lawsuits by Volkswagen owners have already been filed, and Texas has joined West Virginia in filing class action lawsuits to force the company to reimburse citizens in its state who bought the vehicles at a premium believing they were better for the environment.
A number of plaintiffs have requested that lawsuits filed nationwide in federal courts be consolidated for pretrial proceedings as part of a Volkswagen diesel recall MDL, or multidistrict litigation.
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