Volkswagen has apologised after admitting to allegations that it doctored emission test results for diesel cars sold in the US. The US’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claimed that the German carmaker had installed software that showed false emissions levels in tests.
The EPA said that diesel engines could produce as much as 40 times the allowed level of pollution, yet the test results would not show this. Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn apologised and said he was personally sorry the company had destroyed customers’ trust in it.
He noted that Volkswagen would be conducting an enquiry into the allegations. As news of the emissions test scandal broke, the manufacturer saw the value of its shares nosedive by 20 per cent.
Car industry analysts in the US say 480,000 vehicles face being recalled. They are all powered by VW four-cylinder (TDI) engines. The turbo direct injection vehicles were all built after 2009 and include Beetles, Golfs and the Audi A3.
The EU Transport & Environment organisation says the allegation against Volkswagen in the US is only the tip of the iceberg and the practice of rigging emissions test results is more prevalent. They say other carmakers do the same in both the US and European markets.
In the UK, the chief executive of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said this was unlikely. Mike Hawes stated that the US and the EU tested vehicles in different ways. The EU has strict criteria and all tests are overseen by independent agencies.
Mr Hawes explained that in the UK the Vehicle Certification Agency arbitrarily selected vehicles straight off production lines and there was no way to beat the system. The agency comes under the jurisdiction of the Department for Transport.