Currently reading: VW emissions scandal: Nine VW vehicles have false CO2 ratings
Audi, Seat, Skoda and VW close to concluding CO2 investigations; first models affected announced

The VW Group has announced that it is close to concluding its investigation into false CO2 measurements, and says that far fewer vehicles than the original 800,000 believed to be affected will be recategorised.

In a move that could be interpreted as an attempt to head off compensation claims, VW also says that no fixes to any of the cars will be required, and, as such, that the real-world fuel economy figures of the vehicles will remain the same.

A VW Group statement said that the nine affected VW vehicles - totalling 36,000 cars globally - will be reclassified by Christmas. These are specific versions of the VW Polo, VW Scirocco, VW Jetta, VW Golf Convertible, VW Passat Alltrack and VW Passat.

The statement said: "The deviations found... amount to a few grams of CO2 on average, corresponding to increased cycle combustion in the NEDC of approximately 0.1 to 0.2 litres per 100 kilometres." Every 0.1 litre per 100km equates to a rise of 2.32g/km of CO2 output, and Autocar understands that test work is ongoing. As a result, VW has not announced the size of the CO2 changes to each specific vehicle, but it has reiterated that no UK owner will be hit by back taxes.

VW estimates that affected vehicles count for 36,000 vehicle sales this year, or 0.5% of VW sales. All recategorisation work will be conducted by a neutral organisation under independent supervision.

Skoda has said that it does not believe any of its vehicles are affected by the CO2 issues. In a statement, Audi said "there are no Audi vehicles" on the list.

Seat is expected to announce imminently which vehicles it sells are affected.

The VW Group originally set aside €2bn to pay for the CO2 crisis, but has not announced whether this figure will be scaled down in light of the latest findings.

VW models affected by CO2 irregularities:

VW Polo 1.0l TSI BlueMotion 70kW EU6, six-speed manual gearbox

VW Scirocco 2.0l TDI BMT 135kW EU6, six-speed manual gearbox

VW Jetta 1.2l TSI BMT 77kW EU6, six-speed manual gearbox

VW Jetta 2.0l TDI BMT 81kW EU6 seven-speed (DSG), Five-speed manual gearbox

VW Golf Convertible 2.0l TDI BMT 81kW EU6, five-speed manual gearbox

VW Golf 2.0l TDI BMT 110kW EU6, six-speed manual gearbox

VW Passat Alltrack 2.0l TSI 4MOTION BMT 162kW EU6, seven-speed (DSG)

VW Passat Variant 2.0l TDI SCR 4MOTION BMT 176kW EU6, seven-speed (DSG)

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VW Passat Variant 1.4l TSI ACT BMT 110kW EU6, six-speed manual gearbox


Audi technical boss leaves VW Group

Audi technical boss Dr Ulrich Hackenberg is to step down from his role in the wake of the VW emissions scandal, it has been announced.

Hackenberg, 65, has been a senior figure in the VW Group's technical department for since he joined Audi in 1985. He was a major player in several key projects at the Ingolstadt brand and parent firm VW, including running Audi's concept department during the period when it released the A2 and TT, and helping the VW team that created the XL1 economy prototype.

However, Hackenberg has been out of the public eye since the VW emissions scandal broke in September, prompting speculation that was one of several key engineering figures who had been suspended by the VW Group pending an internal investigation. He was also seen as a close ally of former VW Group CEO Martin Winterkorn. Now Audi has confirmed that he will leave his post "by mutual agreement" and be replaced by the current Head of Powertrain Stefan Knirsch - although the departure appears to be with the blessing of the new VW management, and the prepared statement makes no direct reference to the VW Group crisis.

Winterkorn's successor, Matthias Muller, said, "Above all, the modular toolkit system is inseparably connected with the name of Ulrich Hackenberg. He had that idea already in the early nineties at Audi. Today, the entire Group profits from it.”

Audi’s Board of Management Chairman Rupert Stadler said, “In the 30 years that he was active in the Volkswagen Group, Ulrich Hackenberg was involved in crucial strategies and model decisions. The highly flexible modular system resulted in flexible modular production. Both systems helped us to produce very efficiently and with high quality. Numerous car models from Audi, Volkswagen and Bentley were significantly affected by his commitment and expertise. On behalf of the entire Board of Management, I thank him for his many years of commitment and his professional passion.”

VW outlines fixes to EA189 diesel engines

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Volkswagen Group has detailed the technical fixes which will be used to bring two of its EA189 diesel engines into line with current emissions standards.

The fixes, which are for the 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesel engines, have been presented to the KBA authority in Germany to be ratified before being offered to the public. Volkswagen says the fixes rectify emissions on "the majority" of vehicles affected by the ongoing emissions scandal. In a statement, Volkswagen says "after implementation of the technical measures, the vehicles will comply with the applicable emissions standards."

Detailing the measures which will be taken to remove the 'defeat device' software from its engines, Volkswagen revealed the following information.

EA189 1.6-litre diesel engine - VW says a new 'flow transformer', a mesh used to calm air flow around the air mass sensor, will be fitted. The sensor is used to measure air mass throughput, and helps to regulate the internal combustion process. In addition, a software update will be applied. In all, the fix should take less than one hour.

EA189 2.0-litre diesel engine - These engines will only receive a software update, which should take less than half an hour.

"Thanks to advances in engine development and improved simulation of currents inside complex air intake systems, in combination with software optimisation geared towards this, it has been possible to produce a relatively simple and customer-friendly measure," reads VW's statement.

"The objective for the development of the technical measures is still to achieve the applicable emission targets in each case without any adverse effects on the engine output, fuel consumption and performance. However, as all model variants first have to be measured, the achievement of these targets cannot yet be finally confirmed."

The technical solution for the 1.2-litre EA189 engine will be presented to the KBA at the end of this month, VW said. The company also said its sister brands, Audi, Seat, Skoda and VW Commerical Vehicles, were also planning their own corresponding measures to fix affected vehicles

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VW admits 3.0-litre engines are affected

Earlier this month, VW admitted that its 3.0-litre diesel engines are also affected by the widening emissions scandal - potentially affecting another 85,000 vehicles.

Officials from Volkswagen and Audi admitted to the US Environmental Protection Agency last week that vehicles with those engines also contained 'auxiliary emissions control equipment' that was not reported to the US authorities. It is understood that this latest admission affects cars from the 2009-2016 model years.

A Volkswagen spokesperson confirmed to Autocar that this latest revelation only affects cars in the US, and refers to an auxiliary emissions control device that warms the catalyst from cold. The device is designed to reduce emissions and protect the engine during colder starts. The spokesperson said that the allegation of more cheating has surfaced because VW didn't declare the device during the vehicle homologation process. It's understood that the device has been declared illegal because it wasn't registered as part of the test.

The EPA had alleged earlier this month that VW's 3.0-litre V6 engine was also cheating in emissions tests, something the company had initially denied. The EPA says that NOx emissions on the affected vehicles are up to nine times legal limits. It has identified the Volkswagen TouaregPorsche Cayenne and Audi A6Audi A7Audi A8, Audi A8L and Audi Q5 as being potentially affected.

Speaking to Reuters, Audi spokesman Brad Stertz said that while the auxiliary emissions control software is 'legal' in Europe, Audi did not "properly notify regulators" of the device.

Sterz said: "We are willing to take another crack at reprogramming to a degree that the regulators deem acceptable." He also said that the cost of rectifying the software would be in the "double digits millions of euros."

Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the Office for EPA's Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, said: "VW has once again failed its obligation to comply with the law that protects clean air for all Americans.

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"All companies should be playing by the same rules. EPA, with our state, and federal partners, will continue to investigate these serious matters, to secure the benefits of the Clean Air Act, ensure a level playing field for responsible businesses, and to ensure consumers get the environmental performance they expect."

The EPA documentation alleges that the affected cars have "software in the electronic control module of these vehicles that senses when the vehicle is being tested for compliance with EPA emissions standards. When the vehicle senses that it is undergoing a federal emissions test procedure, it operates in a low NOx 'temperature conditioning' mode. Under that mode, the vehicle meets emission standards.

"At exactly one second after the completion of the initial phases of the standard test procedure, the vehicle immediately changes a number of operating parameters that increase NOx emissions and indicates in the software that it is transitioning to 'normal mode' where emissions of NOx increase up to nine times the EPA standard, depending on the vehicle and type of driving conditions," said an EPA statement.

"In other tests where the vehicle does not experience driving conditions similar to the start of the federal test procedure, the emissions are higher from the start, consistent with 'normal mode.'”

VW executives could face jail sentences

Executives in the UK could be imprisoned for up to 10 years for their part in the emissions scandal, secretary of state for transport Patrick McLoughlin has revealed.

Responding to enquiries from Louise Ellman MP, who chairs the Commons’ Transport Committee, McLoughlin revealed that the department for transport (DfT) could prosecute VW for providing “materially false” type approval information under the Road Vehicles (Approval) Regulations 2009 - an offence that is liable for an unlimited fine.

He added that the Competition and Markets Authority could launch action under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 for unfair commercial practices, leaving VW liable for an unlimited fine or two years’ imprisonment, or both.

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Finally, he added that the Serious Fraud Office may prosecute VW for making a gain from false representations, an offence under the Fraud Act 2006. This subject to a maximum 10 years’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine, or both.

In the wide-ranging letter, McLoughlin also confirmed that every other manufacturer type approved in the UK had now written to him confirming they have not been involved in any cheating of the testing system, and he made it clear that the government's primary focus was to ensure that buyers of affected cars were not materially affected. As such, he reported he had sought reassurances from VW that cars would be fixed without affecting performance by the end of 2016, and made it clear that VW would be liable for any backdated fines.

McLoughlin added that there are “no specific plans” to change MOT emission tests at the present time, but he admitted that he may use the tests to monitor whether owners of affected vehicles have the fixes put in place.

It has since been confirmed that fixes for the EA189 2.0-litre engine will be approved in January/February next year before being rolled out in March. Fixes for the EA189 1.2-litre engines will be approved in April/May next year and will be rolled out in June, and fixes for the EA189 1.6-litre engine will be approved in July/August/September before being rolled out in October.

He also outlined further details of the UK government's independent testing of vehicles, to verify figures. While stressing that such tests were at an early stage, and making it clear VW would pay for them, he added that the Vehicle Certification Agency (VCA), which is responsible for vehicle type approval, is working closely with its French and German counterparts to retest vehicles from a variety of other manufacturers in order to avoid a duplication of effort. He said the results would be reported in the spring.

Volkswagen could buy back affected vehicles in Europe

Volkswagen is preparing to buy back some of the vehicles affected by CO2 irregularities in Europe, as the fallout from its emissions scandal continues.

According to the Financial Times, if VW's re-testing of those affected vehicles reveals that CO2 emissions have been understated by more than 10%, then customers will have the opportunity to sell their cars back to VW at the current market value.

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Speaking to the paper, a Volkswagen spokesman said: "We have to think that maybe people will give the car back. When we have the [test] figures there could be a chance for people to say 'I can hand back my car because you told me the wrong number'."

A statement from Volkswagen says the company has identified 430,000 VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat models from the 2016 model year which are affected by CO2 irregularities, which form part of the 800,000 total revealed last week.

Customers affected by the CO2 irregularities can expect to receive an official letter from VW in the coming weeks.

VW to offer cash incentives

Earlier this month, it emerged that Volkswagen would offer cash incentives of up to £1500 to existing UK customers as it tries to avert the potential sales affect caused by the emissions scandal.

Dealer correspondence leaked to Autocar shows that in response to concerns from VW’s British sales network, the company is going to top up any discounts offered to existing customers trading in a VW of any age with a further cash incentive - £400 on the Up city car, rising to £1000 on the Golf and Passat, and £1500 on the Touareg and Volkswagen Sharan.

The VW advice tells dealers, “This bonus is in addition to current tactical and does not impact your ability to determine the selling price of the vehicle.” It adds that the offer will last until the end of January 2016. Other vehicles eligible for a £1000 incentive include Golf SV, Cabriolet and Estate, Beetle and Beetle Cabriolet, Scirocco, Jetta, Touran, Tiguan, CC and all electric vehicles.

VW’s British sales dipped slightly in October - along with those of several of its rivals, as the official figures dropped for the first time in 43 months. However, market analysts suggest that a large number of potential buyers are delaying their purchase - and VW’s loyalty bonus is clearly designed to negate that issue. It mirrors a scheme introduced in the United States, where existing customers can get up to $1500 off selected models.

A VW UK spokesman said, “Any manufacturer scheme is designed to react to trends in the market, and you could say this does the same. We think this is an attractive offer for existing owners.”

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German emissions investigators target 23 different manufacturers

German automotive industry regulator Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA) has announced it is conducting independent emissions tests on cars and vans made by 23 different marques.

In a statement, the KBA said the tests were being conducted as a result of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, but also suggested that accusations of cheating elsewhere in the car industry had been made. It cited “verified indications from third parties regarding unusual pollutants emissions“.

“Since the end of September, KBA has been investigating whether further manipulation of emissions, of nitrogen oxides in particular, is taking place in the market,” said the statement.

It added that it had already tested two-thirds of the vehicles named, comparing laboratory test results with real-world figures, but did not give any clues as to the results.

All of the KBA’s tests are believed to be focused on diesel engines.

Alfa Romeo: Alfa Romeo GuiliettaAudi: Audi A6, Audi A3BMW: BMW 3 Series, BMW 5 SeriesChevrolet: Chevrolet CruzeDacia: SD engineFiat: Fiat Panda, Fiat DucatoFord: Ford Focus, Ford C-MaxHonda: Honda HR-VHyundai: Hyundai iX35, Hyundai i20Land Rover: Range Rover EvoqueJeep: Jeep CherokeeMazda: Mazda 6Mercedes: Mercedes C-Class, Mercedes CLS, Mercedes Sprinter, Mercedes V-ClassMini: Mini CooperMitsubishi: Mitsubishi ASXNissan: Nissan NavaraPeugeot: Peugeot 308Porsche: Porsche MacanRenault: Renault KadjarSmart: Smart FortwoToyota: Toyota AurisVauxhall: Vauxhall Astra, Vauxhall Insignia, Vauxhall ZafiraVolvo: Volvo V60VW: VW Golf, VW Beetle, VW Passat, VW Touran, VW Touareg, VW Golf Sportsvan, VW Polo, VW Crafter, VW Amarok

VW Group admits 800,000 cars may have false CO2 ratings; Porsche and petrol engines implicated

In early November, the Volkswagen Group was plunged into further crisis after admitting that up to 800,000 petrol and diesel-powered cars had their CO2 and mpg ratings wrongly certified.

In a statement, VW revealed: "Under the ongoing review of all processes and workflows in connection with diesel engines it was established that the CO2 levels and thus the fuel consumption figures for some models were set too low during the CO2 certification process. The majority of the vehicles concerned have diesel engines."

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It also pledged to "immediately start a dialogue with the responsible type approval agencies regarding the consequences of these findings". The statement also described the situation as a "not yet fully explained issue".

A VW spokesman confirmed that the latest scandal affects AudiSeatSkoda and VW cars with what are described as "small" engines. Reports suggest that cars powered by the 1.4-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with Cylinder On Demand technology are affected. Further reports suggest that VW BlueMotion diesel models with three and four-cylinder diesel engines are also affected.

The company said it has set aside two billion euros (£1.4bn) to cover the cost of this latest revelation, although it cautioned that it would need to consult officials before fully understanding the legal and econimic implications of the discovery. It has not said whether it will compensate owners of affected cars.

In the statement, Matthias Müller, CEO of Volkswagen, said: “From the very start I have pushed hard for the relentless and comprehensive clarification of events. We will stop at nothing and nobody. This is a painful process, but it is our only alternative. For us, the only thing that counts is the truth. That is the basis for the fundamental realignment that Volkswagen needs. The Board of Management of Volkswagen AG deeply regrets this situation and wishes to underscore its determination to systematically continue along the present path of clarification and transparency.”

The VW statement also stressed that the safety of the vehicles affected is in no way compromised.

Meanwhile, the Supervisory Board of the VW Group issues a separate statement expressing alarm at the latest discovery. It said: "The Supervisory Board is deeply concerned by the discovery of irregularities found when determining CO2 levels for the type approval of Volkswagen Group vehicles. The Supervisory Board and the special committee set up for the purpose of clarification will meet in the very near future to consult on further measures and consequences. The Supervisory Board will continue to ensure swift and meticulous clarification. In this regard, the latest findings must be an incentive for the Supervisory Board and the Board of Management to do their utmost to resolve such irregularities and rebuild trust."

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VW EA288 engine given the all-clear

Following a previous rumour of more widespread cheating, Volkswagen was forced to issue a statement saying that its EA288 engine does not contain the 'defeat device' software that has plunged the company into crisis.

German news agency DPA had reported that early EU5-compliant versions of the EA288 motor - a unit derived from the EA189 design that’s been at the heart of the emissions scandal - were under scrutiny by VW engineers as they tried to establish the full extent of the problem.

VW itself issued a statement confirming that it was examining the engines - but now it says that process has been completed and that "no software constituting an improper defeat device as defined in law is installed in vehicles with EA288 engines".

The conclusion is an important one for the troubled German manufacturer because it could have faced millions of further recalls if the EA288 engines - sold in 1.6- and 2.0-litre versions across the VW Group's range of brands - had been found to contain the code that sparked off the emissions scandal.

VW's statement added, "New vehicles of the Volkswagen Group offered within the European Union with those engines comply with legal requirements and environmental standards."

UK recall 'won't be mandatory'

The UK's Department for Transport has confirmed that it won't be issuing a mandatory recall for cars affected by Volkswagen's emissions scandal in this country.

Speaking to Autocar, a DfT spokesman confirmed that the UK won't follow the example set by the German authorities in issuing a mandatory recall for affected cars. Volkswagen has already started a voluntary recall program for cars in this country, but the DfT has made clear that "this is VW's position and VW's problem."

"We will continue to put pressure on VW to make sure this happens as quickly as possible," said the spokesman "so that people in the UK can have these problems fixed.

"The government has been putting pressure on VW to address these issues quickly. The government expects VW to set up the next steps on how they are going to correct this problem and support owners in the UK. In the past few weeks the Transport Secretary has spoken to the German Transport Minister about the actions of VW, and has been reassured that the German authorities are working closely with VW."

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In Germany, the federal transport authority, the KBA, is forcing Volkswagen to recall the 2.4 million cars in the country which have its 'defeat device' software installed.

Criminal enquiry targets "fewer than 10 staff"

Criminal prosecutors in German who are investigating the dieselgate scandal have identified fewer than 10 suspects, despite earlier rumours that up to 30 staff could be implicated. Klaus Ziehe, spokesman for the prosecutors in the German city of Brunswick, told news agency AFP that investigators suspect "more than two but a lot fewer than 10 people". 

VW's UK boss faces MPs

Last month, Volkswagen UK boss Paul Willis admitted that his company's so-called 'defeat device' did affect the results of emissions tests in Europe.

Previously, the German manufacturer has only confirmed that the software-based emissions cheat was present on some vehicles in Europe - and had not outlined whether the defeat device was active during the NEDC emissions test used across the EU.

However, when asked during a 45-minute grilling from MPs on the transport select committee if the defeat device had been used during type approval testing for the UK, Willis admitted, "It seems from what I understand - and I'm not an engineer - that the system of gas regulation in the engine influenced the NOx output in cars that we sell in the UK. These cars are type approved across all of Europe, of course, and they're type approved in Germany, with separate people overlooking it.

"We mishandled the situation in so far as our engines behaved differently within the testing regime to the real world. That's why we need to fix the cars, that's why we need to get the customers in, and that's why we need to put the cars right. We mishandled the situation, without a shadow of a doubt.

"It seems that in the test regime the engine behaved differently to the real-world situation via software. The software affected the flow of gas to the engine which reduced the NOx."

Willis said VW reacted "as quickly as possible"

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The session at the House of Commons was the first opportunity for the transport select committee - a cross-party body made up of 11 MPs - to question VW representatives or the car industry on the dieselgate scandal.

Willis came under particular pressure on the amount of time taken by VW UK to remove affected vehicles - around 4000 cars still on the market - from sale. He argued that the firm had acted as quickly as possible, saying, "On 22nd September we were made aware by VW headquarters in Wolfsburg that there was a potential problem with diesel engines. On 28th September we were getting more details and I phoned Mr McLoughlin [Patrick McLoughin, the Transport Secretary] to say to him that as soon as I knew which vehicles were affected, I would voluntarily stop selling those cars. That phone call took place at 3pm on 28th September.

"On 30th September, at 9am in the morning, I received the VIN numbers from the various different factories. And this is the point: there were eight days between when we first knew it affected Europe and when I stopped selling cars. And the reason for that is the complexity of the number of cars involved. There are 60 different models, five different brands, three different engines and two different transmissions.

"I found the VIN numbers out precisely at 9am, and at 1.30pm, once I had clarified it with the computer systems, I stopped selling those cars voluntarily. It took four hours and 30 minutes from the time I knew the affected cars until I took action - four hours and 30 minutes."

Existing test comes under fire from MPs

Both Willis and the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Mike Hawes, were asked if the current emissions testing procedure was fit for purpose. Hawes admitted that the difference between real-world figures and those provided by the NEDC could be "up to 30%". "These figures are meant for a comparison process and always contain a disclaimer about the real world and this is for some very sensible comparitive reasons," he said.

"The test cycle dates back to the early 1980s and the industry recognises it isn't fit for purpose," he added. "When you put a vehicle on the test cycle, for instance, all of the electronic devices that you would turn on in the real world - air-conditioning, heating, sat-nav, Bluetooth - all of that has to be switched off, by law, because when the regulation was created that sort of technology wasn't available. Then there's the issue of real-world driving conditions - congestion, temperature, load, gradient - all huge and all ruled out by the test cycle to get a repeatable cycle."

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Hawes said he believes a more realistic testing cycle will be introduced on a compulsory basis from the beginning of 2017.

Willis also criticised the current testing procedure. He said: "If we look at the test regime on emissions, we know it is old-fashioned and not fit for purpose. We need completely independent tests that look at all sorts of detail, like Euro NCAP, which uses real-world testing. We need to look at that."

"We have a duty to the public to reassure them [customers] that our cars are safe. There is no relation to safety with this issue but we do need to regain trust and we will do that with transparency."

Willis also apologised to VW customers in the UK saying: "Volkswagen has significantly let down its customers and the wider public. We recognise we've fallen short of the standards expected and we will take all the necessary steps to regain trust."

VW UK could pay back missing tax to government

Willis has promised that the VW Group will speak to Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs to discuss any tax payments on vehicles that may need to be made the wake of the dieselgate scandal. When asked if the firm had measures in place to compensate the Treasury for any revenues missed because of the defeat devices, Willis said, "I'm not sure there's any clear evidence that the CO2 emissions on these cars are different in the real world. But we can have a conversation downstream. The British taxpayer should not be out of pocket and if necessary, we will have a meeting with HMRC."

The scale of VW's global problem

In total, VW has said that just under 11 million vehicles worldwide have the software 'defeat device' that was exposed in American emissions tests last month. While two-thirds are thought to be fixable with a software upgrade, it's believed that a total of 3.6 million affected VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat models - those featuring the 1.6-litre version of the EA189 turbodiesel engine - will require hardware changes to correct the issue. US models may require the addition of a urea tank, whereas European editions of the 1.6 are likely to need new fuel injectors.

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VW's new CEO Matthias Müller has pledged that all affected cars will be fixed by the end of next year. He added: "Our most important task will be to regain lost confidence with our customers, partners, investors and the general public. The first step in this direction will be a fast and relentless examination and explanation. Only when everything comes to the table, only when things are completely explained, only then will people trust us again.

"Believe me, I too am impatient. But in this situation, in which we are dealing with four brands and many models, care is more important than speed.

"The technical solutions to the problems are in sight. By contrast, the business and financial consequences are not yet foreseeable."

VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat launch websites for owners to check if they are affected

Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and Seat have launched websites that allow owners to check if their car is affected by the emissions scandal.   

The VW site collapsed soon after launch as a result of the amount of traffic trying to access it, but has since been functioning normally. Sites from Audi, Skoda and Seat are all running without problem.

Government won't hike tax bills

The Government has confirmed that UK taxpayers will not be hit by a higher tax bill if it turns out that their cars were found to have cheated tests.

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: “The government expects VW to support owners of these vehicles already purchased in the UK and we are playing our part by ensuring no one will end up with higher tax costs as a result of this scandal.”

He also confirmed that the Department for Transport has pushed for more clarity on the matter and that the next round of tests will look at whether the software “is being used elsewhere”.

"Neither cars, nor the testing facilities will be provided by the vehicle industry themselves". VW has offered to pay for this testing if the government requests it does so.

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VW's remaining EU5 stock taken off sale in the UK

Following the scandal, Volkswagen Group UK took 4000 cars fitted with the EA189 engine off sale, pending investigations into how it will remove the illegal software that cheated US emissions tests while still ensuring the cars comply with all emissions regulations.

The move covered vehicles from Audi, Seat, Skoda, Volkswagen, and the cars and commercial vehicles affected represent around 3% of the Group’s total UK stock. They are expected to be put back on sale once the Group’s modifications have been put in place.

A spokesman stressed that the decision to withdraw the cars from sale was a voluntary measure, rather than a regulatory one. The vehicles remained on sale beyond the September 1 deadline for Euro 6 emissions regulations to come in to effect because legislation allows manufactures to clear stock of Euro 5 engined vehicles. VW has previously confirmed all of its cars fitted with the latest, Euro 6-classified engines are fully legal.

It has also been announced that anyone with an order placed for an affected car will be given the choice of withdrawing from the sale without penalty, taking delivery of the car after the modifications have been fitted or taking delivery of the car as soon as it is available and then having the required modifications retro-fitted.

More than 1.1m UK cars affected

The full number of cars to be recalled in the UK under VW's voluntary scheme is 1,189,906, and this is spread across five different brands in the VW Group. Volkswagen accounts for the majority, with 508,276 cars affected, while Audi has to recall 393,450 models. Skoda also has a notable number affected, with 131,569. Seat and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles are also involved, with 76,773 and 79,838 vehicles being recalled respectively.

In a statement, the firm said: “Customers with these vehicles will be kept informed over the coming weeks and months. All of the Group brands affected will set up national websites to update customers on developments.”

It is not yet known whether the owners of affected cars will be offered compensation. Various lobbying groups are claiming that the potential loss of value to the cars should be reimbursed by Volkswagen.

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A spokesman had previously confirmed that VW will not rush a technical solution, preferring to focus on getting it right. He said: "We don't want to be fast - we want to be certain. Over the next days and weeks we will write to all affected customers and we will put in place free-of-charge fixes for all affected customers."

However, the spokesman was unable to confirm whether the revisions would require the vehicles to be recertified for their emissions and economy figures.

The official VW statement reads: "An internal evaluation on Friday established that a service procedure is required for some five million vehicles from the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand out of a total eleven million Group vehicles worldwide. These vehicles from certain models and model years (such as the sixth generation Volkswagen Golf, the seventh generation Volkswagen Passat or the first generation Volkswagen Tiguan) are fitted with Type EA 189 diesel engines."

Why did VW cheat?

A senior source within the German car industry has shed light on the most significant outstanding question of the VW emissions scandal, namely why?

If the offending cars have all the emissions equipment on board to make the car compliant with the regulations, why take such an enormous risk engineering in the ‘defeat device’ to bypass that equipment?

“I expect it was pressure on the engineers that made them do it,” said the source. “Remember this system was designed some time ago when emissions controls were not as sophisticated as they are now, and the pressure to pass the tests would have been immense.

“And I imagine the reason they installed the defeat device is that without it there would have serious consequences not in the laboratory but on the road, either with the car’s performance, driveability, fuel consumption or some combination of the three.”

He went on to confirm that technology has since evolved sufficiently for there to be no need for such devices today.

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So why, then, did VW not simply stop using the defeat device when it was no longer needed? “There are two possible reasons. First it would likely have been integrated within the entire electronic architecture of the car and not easy to remove, second to remove it those responsible for its installation would have first to have flagged up the fact that they’d put it there, which they’d probably not be too keen to do…”

The source said he believed the defeat device was likely to be present also on VW products sold in Europe with the EA189 engine [since confirmed by a German minister] but almost certainly not active which he said, was “nothing like as bad as having active, but still illegal”.

He said also he believed that VW alone was using such a device and that all other German car manufacturers had no equivalent systems on the cars they sold today.

The one remaining question is who signed off the defeat device. Former VW boss Martin Winterkorn has denied knowledge of it and his resignation, while inevitable, was no kind of admission of guilt.

Whoever was responsible, it seems likely that more heads will have to roll before the true picture emerges.

11m Audis, Seats, Skodas and VWs affected globally

While the VW Group has said that 11 million vehicles worldwide are affected by the scandal, only 5m are from Volkswagen brand itself. Audi has revealed that 2.1 million vehicles from its brand are affected worldwide, with 1.42 million of those being in Western EuropeSkoda has also revealed that 1.2 million of its cars worldwide are affected by the scandal. Seat has said that 700,000 of its vehicles are affected globally. 

A VW Group statement read: "As previously announced, all new Volkswagen Passenger Car brand vehicles that fulfill the EU6 norm valid throughout Europe are not affected. This therefore also includes the current Golf, Passat and Touran models."

The figures also include 1.8 million light commercial vehicles.

SMMT: just because VW cheated, it doesn't mean the whole industry is cheating

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Speaking at a conference on air quality, chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) Mike Hawes said: "Consumers are right to be concerned following the events of the past ten days. But we must remember, the actions of one company do not mean collusion. Implicating other brands or companies would be unfair and wrong.

"It would be wrong to penalise all diesels. The latest diesel vehicles are the cleanest ever - effectively reducing nitrogen oxide levels by 92% compared with earlier generations. They make a significant contribution to climate change targets, an environmental challenge which cannot be ignored.

"We recognise the current regulations for testing are out of date. We want, for consumers and our own industry’s integrity, a new emissions test that embraces new technologies, and which is more representative of on the road conditions."

VW's global meltdown

There have been calls for governmental probes in to VW’s actions from around the world since the firm admitted cheating in the US emissions tests, including in Canada, Germany, Italy, South Korea, UK and the USA. The UK government has already announced it will launch an inquiry into the scandal.

VW has put aside a fund of €6.5bn (approximately £4.7bn) to cover the costs of dealing with the issue, and says it will adjust its financial targets for 2015 as a result. The matter came to light when the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) revealed that while testing 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel cars of the Volkswagen Group they detected electronic manipulations that violate American environmental standards.

Reports have since surfaced that Volkswagen was warned about the legality of its software as far back as 2007.

According to the EPA, this means that the cars under investigation could be emitting up to 40 times the national standard for nitrogen oxide (NOx), which is linked to asthma and lung illnesses. The cars affected are 2009-2014 Jettas, Beetles, Golfs, Audi A3s, and VW Passats built from 2014-15.

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The issue will be investigated by the US Congress’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.

“Strong emissions standards are in place for the benefit of public health,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy in a joint statement.

“Manufacturers throughout the United States, and across the world, have developed leading technologies to reduce airborne emissions within the limits set by EPA and state environmental agencies. However, reported EPA allegations that certain Volkswagen models contained software to defeat auto emissions tests raise serious questions,” they said.

“We will follow the facts. We are also concerned that auto consumers may have been deceived – that what they were purchasing did not come as advertised. The American people deserve answers and assurances that this will not happen again. We intend to get those answers.”

A date for the US Congress hearing has yet to be set. Since the scandal broke the VW Group share price has fallen by more than 50% from its 2015 high.

VW emissions scandal: how it unfolded

The Volkswagen emissions scandal is currently headline news, but the story has its roots in May 2014, when a study found higher-than-clamed emissions coming from two Volkswagen vehicles. Here's our timeline of how the story unfolded.

May 2014 The West Virginia University’s (WVU) Centre for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions publishes results of a study commissioned by the International Council on Clean Transportation that found significantly higher-than-claimed in-use emissions from two diesel cars, a 2012 Jetta and a 2013 Passat. A BMW X5 also tested passed the tests. 

WVU alerts California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the issue.

Summer 2014 Over the course of the year following the publication of the WVU study, VW continues to assert to CARB and the EPA that the increased emissions from these vehicles could be attributed to various technical issues and unexpected in-use conditions.

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December 2014 VW issues a voluntary recall of approximately 500,000 vehicles to address the emissions issue.

6 May 2015 CARB, in coordination with the EPA, conducts follow-up testing of these vehicles both in the laboratory and during normal road operation to confirm the efficacy of VW’s recall. Testing shows the recall has had only a limited benefit.

None of the potential technical issues suggested by VW can explain the higher test results consistently confirmed during further testing by CARB.

Summer 2015 CARB and the EPA make it clear that they will not approve certificates of conformity - necessary for vehicles to be sold in the USA – for VW’s 2016 model year diesel vehicles until the manufacturer car adequately explain the anomalous emissions and ensure the agencies that the 2016 model year vehicles would not have similar issues.

3 September 2015 During a meeting VW admits it has designed and installed a defeat device in these vehicles in the form of a sophisticated software algorithm that detects when a vehicle is undergoing emissions testing.

18 September 2015 CARB and the EPA make their findings public, stating that Volkswagen has violated two sections of the Clean Air Act, firstly by selling or offering for sale vehicles that did not comply with their certificates of conformity, and second by manufacturing and installing into these vehicles an electronic control module capable of switching its calibration to beat the emissions tests.

Read more on the Volkswagen emissions scandal:

Six things the firm could cut

Bugatti under threat as boss warns of 'painful' cuts

Blog - navel gazing at Volkswagen

Blog - Keeping up with pollution laws is not always easy for car makers

Blog - How Volkswagen can survive its emissions scandal

Join the debate

Add a comment…
alexhualex 17 May 2016


Hey guys, have you seen this video making fun of the scandal? Check it out:
Davmut 14 December 2015


I really care not about emissions and I'm very bored with all the false shock and horror displayed, I am happy to have any car provided it has sufficient power ,speed and comfort. Emissions don't mean a thing to me as long as there are sufficient to upset a treehugger.
Adrian987 9 December 2015


Autoexpress 9th December wrote: a recent German independant study of eight diesels in partnership with UK specialist Emissions Analytics, the lastest Euro6 Golf 2.0 TDI was by far the least polluting car. Perhaps there's light at the end of the tunnel for the VW.

Well, that is interesting.