Dark clouds gather over Volkswagen after emissions scandal in US

The VW 2.0 TDi diesel engine

The VW 2.0 TDi diesel engine

Volkswagen AG is in a tight fix in the United States after regulators discovered that the German company cheated on strict environmental standards by programming some of their diesel engines to activate emission controls only while undergoing emissions testing.

The US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) opened an investigation into Volkswagen back in May 2014 after Peter Mock and John German, principals from the International Council on Clean Transportation, reported a big discrepancy between the American and European tests on diesel variants of the VW Golf GTi, Jetta and Passat, and the BMW X5.

Rear-world tests performed by EPA confirmed the significant variance in emission results, confirming that a certain diesel engine of VW did not, in fact, pass the US’ strict emission standards.

It was learned that in a laboratory setting, the VW models involved passed the tests. However, when the cars were brought outside in real-world conditions, the engines failed miserably. Powered by the 2.0-liter TDi diesel engine, the Jetta and the Passat discharged harmful levels of nitrogen oxide. The Jetta was 15 to 35 times the standard while the Passat was five to 20 times the standard.

The BMW X5 passed both the EPA’s laboratory and real-world tests.

In a letter released by the EPA last September 18, it confirmed that VW had indeed found a way of going around the EPA emissions tests as the VW engine computer had been programmed to activate emission controls when the system detects that it is being tested. According to the EPA letter, VW AG admitted that it had implanted a “defeat device” software into 480,000 diesel-powered cars sold in the US between 2009 and 2015, to allow it to pass strict air pollution tests in the US.

VW airs side
Last Sunday, VW Chief Executive Officer Martin Winterkorn released a statement on the matter, saying, “The US Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board [CARB] revealed their findings that while testing diesel cars of the Volkswagen Group they have detected manipulations that violate American environmental standards.

The Board of Management at Volkswagen AG takes these findings very seriously. I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public. We will cooperate fully with the responsible agencies, with transparency and urgency, to clearly, openly and completely establish all of the facts of this case. Volkswagen has ordered an external investigation of this matter.

We do not and will not tolerate violations of any kind of our internal rules or of the law.

The trust of our customers and the public is and continues to be our most important asset. We at Volkswagen will do everything that must be done in order to re-establish the trust that so many people have placed in us, and we will do everything necessary in order to reverse the damage this has caused. This matter has first priority for me, personally and for our entire Board of Management.”

VW cars in the Philippines
In the Philippines, Volkswagen Marketing and Communications head Timmy De Leon said they are still awaiting for an official statement to be released by VW AG.

In the meantime, De Leon explained that the EPA standards in the US are equivalent to Europe’s Euro 6 emission standards, which are extremely high. Currently, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has set local emission standards to meet Euro 2 levels, but by January 2016, all new cars sold in the country must have engines that are Euro 4 compliant.

De Leon disclosed that all of the VW cars sold in the country are Euro 4 compliant, adding that the Passat and Golf GTi models sold here are both gasoline-fed. Only the VW Jetta is available with the 2.0-liter TDi diesel engine. “But [Jetta] that too, is Euro 4 compliant,” she added.


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