Last we heard, Volkswagen’s small loophole that it could technically skate through on the definition of “cheating” in Europe was fairly well closed.
Last week, Volkswagen’s chief in the UK asserted in a letter to British Parliament that the company may not have have technically cheated in Europe.
“Volkswagen accepts that a defeat device was used in the USA in certain models, in the context of the very different regulatory framework and factual circumstances there,” Paul Willis wrote in a December letter (via New York Times). “However we do not think that it is possible to make the same definitive legal determination in relation to the software that was fitted to those differently configured vehicles in the UK and EU.” (Emphasis ours.)
Holy shit. Really?
The letter is a lengthy response to inquiries made by British officials into the timing, rollout and response by Volkswagen when they admitted that 11 million cars worldwide were fitted with an emissions-test detecting device to reduce nitrous oxide emissions to pass.
In Willis’ own letter, he admits that the cars were fitted with a device to reduce emissions, and that the device was similar to a device used in America that Volkswagen has admitted “cheated” emissions tests over here.
“In very simple terms, the software did amend the NOx characteristics in testing. The vehicle did meet EU5 standards, so it clearly contributed to meeting the EU5 standards in testing,” Willis wrote.
But in further questions, Willis said it was impossible to tell if the cars could meet EU5 emissions standards without using the software because deleting the software would disable the car from running.
Which is like saying, “The cake calls for icing. If I don’t ice the cake, I can’t make it to the next step. So we’ll never know what the cake tastes like without icing because we can’t comprehend a universe without icing.”