VW's UK boss Paul Willis answers questions from the transport select committee today
12 October 2015

1739hrs - We're going to wrap up here. It was an interesting session, with some sharp questioning from MPs and a stern defence from Willis.

The key revelations appear to be:

Around 400,000 UK cars need injector replacement at worst; the extra tank that's required in some American vehicles won't be needed here.

There are increasingly wide calls for the official test procedure to be modernised sooner rather than later.

VW's defeat device did influence the NOx emissions of cars on UK roads - which means it was operational during at least some NEDC EU tests.

1733hrs - Interesting to see MPs criticising Willis, since his departure from the meeting, for continually prefixing his answers with the phrase, "I'm not an engineer…"

Yet when McLoughlin is asked if the Department for Transport has done any physical checks on vehicles, he replies, "I'm going to risk your wrath here by saying this, but I'm not an engineer…".

Laughter breaks out in the room, from the panel and the witness desk; clearly it's funny if an MP says that line, but not a car company boss.

1731hrs - McLoughlin says there are some car companies who have not yet responded to letters asking them to reassure the Government that they don't have defeat devices fitted to any of their vehicles.

He says they've got until the end of the month to respond. But he adds, "These are reputable companies, in the main. We have an enviable record on car production in this country, and on engine production."

1722hrs - Willis and Hawes have now left the room. The Minister for Transport Patrick McLoughlin is now answering questions.

He says he was first aware of the dieselgate problem on the weekend of 18th September. He says he believes VW has behaved "in an appalling way".

1720hrs - Hawes adds that the forthcoming real-world emissions standards will help to rebuild confidence.

"We will ensure that this real-world driving emissions regulation will be delivering real-world emissions betterment," he says, "and the investment in those technologies will continue to improve. Customers can be assured that the vehicles they buy will remain fit for purpose and will deliver the reliability, safety and emissions performance they expect."

1718hrs - Mike Hawes says he's not sure if the motor industry has been really hurt by the scandal.

"It would be premature to say that the reputation of the motor industry has been damaged by this," he says. "The industry is doing a lot to address air quality issues, and we will continue to make significant investments to make sure those issues are addressed. This issue around regulation and its impact in the real world is one that is being addressed and has the full support of the industry."

1715hrs - Willis is asked if there was a high-level corporate decision to install the cheat device or if he thinks it was down to a few software engineers.

"That debate and discussion is pure conjecture," he says. "I have no idea. I would be guessing. I find it implausible that senior people in the company would have known these issues with the testing regime."

1714hrs - Willis is asked if VW will compensate the Government on any money that was saved in tax by cheat device-equipped vehicles.

"I'm not sure there's any clear evidence that the CO2 emissions on these cars is different in the real world," he replies. "We can have a discussion further down the line. The British taxpayer should not be out of pocket. If necessary we will have the meeting with HMRC."

1712hrs - Willis denies that UK cars will need the hardware changes referred to by VW's US boss Michael Horn. "My understanding is that addition of Urea tanks is not the solution in Europe," he says. "There's a different technical configuration and different regulations. It's different in the United States and my understanding is that the costs will be different too."

One of the MPs asks how VW plans to look after customers whose cars do need to be recalled, particularly those who are badly inconvenienced by the process. "Where a customer is inconvenienced or lives a long way from the dealer then we will have to give them a loan car, and we have to make sure it all happens with the least inconvenience to our customers."

Willis also believes cars may not yet take a hit on residual values. One of the MPs asks about the loss of values on cars and Willis says, "I think it's premature to talk about that. The newspapers talk a lot about that but if you look at what happened in the United States with previous safety issues and recalls, there is evidence that there was not a loss of value. What I would say is that we have to make sure we regain the trust of our customers."

1705hrs - One of the MPs asks Willis if the cheat device fix will affect customers' fuel economy. "No, it's not the case. The brief the engineers are working to is that there cannot be any change in the miles per gallon," he says.

"The reason why it takes so long - and I apologise to you and our customers - the reason it is taking so long is that if you have 60 different models, five brands, five different engines with two different transmissions, it takes time. It is better to be thorough than do it in haste. It's important we take the right time to do it correctly for our customers."

1701hrs - Willis is asked if vehicles with EA189 engines in the UK contravene the rules on NOx emissions. "According to the law and test cycle, currently no," he replies. He says VW has started to correct the process by writing to owners and telling them how they can check if their car is affected - by using the VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat websites.

1655hrs - Hawes is being queried about the NEDC test cycle now. He admits the difference between real-world figures and the official NEDC figures "could well be up to 30%", and says, "These figures are meant for a comparison process and always contain a disclaimer about the real world and that is for some very sensible comparative reasons.

"The test cycle tests back to the early 1980s and the industry recognises it isn't fit for purpose. When put vehicle on test cycle, of instance, everything like air-conditioning and so forth must be switched off by law and that clearly needs to change."

"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."

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

1653hrs - SMMT boss Mike Hawes is asked if he's heard of manufacturers taping up gaps and removing spare tyres from cars during the NEDC test procedure. "Never in 20 years I have heard of anything like that," he says. "If so, the VCA would step in if a vehicle was not being tested in production specification."

"Never?" checks one of the MPs.

"Never," confirms Hawes.

1650hrs - Willis tries to turn defence into an attack on the EU's emissions testing processes.

He says, "If we look at the test regime on emissions, we know it is old-fashioned and not fit for purpose. I will come to safety but this point is key for our consumers. The point is that the test regime is out of date 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."

One of the MPs retorts, "If we can't trust you on emissions, why can we trust you on safety?"

Willis replies, "I understand that question. We have a duty to public to reassure them 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."

1648hrs - The grilling continues. One of the MPs asks Willis what car he drives.

"I drive a Golf GTE, my son drives an Audi A1 and my wife drives an Audi Q5," he answers. "Diesel?" asks the MP. "My wife and son? Yes. I drive a hybrid," says Willis.

1642hrs - Willis does indeed appear to be stating that the VW cheat device software did affect the EU emissions tests - something that VW has so far been reluctant to confirm. He adds, "I'm not an engineer, and it seems that in the test regime the engine behaved differently to real life via software. The software affected the flow of gas to the engine which affected the results."

1641hrs - This needs further scrutiny, but when asked if the cheat device affected the emissions tests of cars in the UK, Willis appears to indicate that it did indeed affect the NOx figures of vehicles tested in the EU.

"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 on sale in the UK," he says. "These cars are type approved in the UK and Germany, of course. One of the questions we have is how fit for purpose the test regime is."

1640hrs - Willis is being grilled on the delay between knowing of the dieselgate problem and taking affected cars off sale.

He says, "What happened is that on the 22nd September we were made aware by Wolfsburg there was a problem with diesel engines. On 28th September we were getting more details and I phoned the Transport Secretary and told him I would stop selling cars that were possibly affected until I knew which ones were affected.

"The point is there were eight days between us knowing there was a problem and us taking cars off sale - the reason for that is that the complexity is so great.

"As soon as I had the VIN numbers I stopped selling the cars voluntarily. It took me 4hrs 30mins from knowing there were affected cars to taking them off sale."

1636hrs - VW UK boss Paul Willis has opened his statement with an apology. He says, "I'd like to reiterate again my sincere apologies and me and my team will work tirelessly and relentlessly to put things right and begin the journey of regaining the trust of our customers."

1634hrs - Looks like the witnesses, including SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes, are now in the room. The line-up of MPs appears to be present too, so questioning should start shortly.

1625hrs - It's been a relatively quiet day by dieselgate standards, but that could be about to change as the boss of the VW Group in the United Kingdom gives evidence to MPs about the scandal.

Expect tough questions on the emissions implications of cars that could be affected by the 'defeat device' software, and for Paul Willis to be pushed hard on the speed of response across the brands involved: VW, Audi, Skoda and Seat.

1600hrs - VW’s UK boss Paul Willis is due to face questions from the cross-party transport select committee in the Houses of Parliament this afternoon, in the wake of the dieselgate scandal that started with US emissions tests and has since spread to almost 11 million vehicles worldwide, including 1.2 million in the United Kingdom.

In case you're wondering what the transport select committee actually is, it's a group of 11 MPs, drawn from the three largest parties and appointed by the House of Commons to scrutinise and question transport policy. It has various levels of inquiry, ranging from several days of evidence from dozens of witnesses and publishing a comprehensive summary down to a single day of evidence and no subsequent report. Today's process, though significant in many ways, looks like it's towards the smaller end of that scale.

We’ll be reporting live on the event as Willis gets quizzed on the wider VW dieselgate story, and how the firm intends to help affected customers in the UK.

The session is due to begin at 1630hrs. Willis is scheduled to appear for 45 minutes, along with Mike Hawes, the Chief Executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, and they're due to be followed by Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport. Stay tuned and keep refreshing this page for updates from 1630hrs.

In the meantime, here’s the latest news and comment we have on the VW emissions scandal.

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

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Comments
6

12 October 2015
After seeing the start of the investigation, it seems that the Volkswagen bosses will heavily rely on the age-old mantra of deny, deny, deny and I don't knows, etc.

12 October 2015
"1733hrs - Interesting to see MPs criticising Willis, since his departure from the meeting, for continually prefixing his answers with the phrase, "I'm not an engineer…"

Yet when McLoughlin is asked if the Department for Transport has done any physical checks on vehicles, he replies, "I'm going to risk your wrath here by saying this, but I'm not an engineer…".

Laughter breaks out in the room, from the panel and the witness desk; clearly it's funny if an MP says that line, but not a car company boss."

I think that's called irony John..

12 October 2015
The suitability of the test methods isn't really material when what is under investigation is admitted fraud. Pointless attempt at deflection.

289

12 October 2015
Having watched the entire recording of the meeting, I now see why our country is in the mess it finds itself in.
A more ignorant, fatuous, hopeless band of state funded oxygen thieves would be difficult to imagine.
They thought they looked clever...in fact they made themselves look clueless.
One bumptious idiot to the right of the screen repeatedly aske technical questions of a man who is clearly the figurehead of VW UK NOT as he kept repeating, an engineer. Clearly this committee member was too busy trying to look smart to actually listen to what he was being told....I am not entirely sure that had Paul actually bought an engineer with him to answer these pointless questions - any of them would have actually understood the answer.
Then a silver haired idiot to the left of the screen started chiming on about lost taxation revenues...priceless...part of the transport select committee and doesn't actually know that vehicle taxation is based on Co2 and NOT NOX emissions.
What a bunch of time wasters...never mind, I expect they were well recompensed for their time!

13 October 2015
289 wrote:

aske technical questions of a man who is clearly the figurehead of VW UK NOT as he kept repeating, an engineer. ....I am not entirely sure that had Paul actually bought an engineer with him to answer these pointless questions - any of them would have actually understood the answer.

absolutely agree on the oxygen thieve idea, but dismissing questions with 'i am not an engineer' is likewise absolutely unacceptable.
This is a hearing about a topic that is highly technical in nature. He should preferably have rolled his sleeves up and done his homework, or, as you say, bring along someone. Understanding the answer is a different matter, but smart people are able to explain complex things to the layperson too.

13 October 2015
The one question that nobody asked is why the VW's disgraced chief is still the head of the Porsche SE that owns the Volkswagen!

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