Volkswagen has Adolf Hitler to thank for its start. In 1933 Hitler asked Ferdinand Porsche (yes, that Porsche) to discuss the idea of an affordable car that could carry five people. Prototypes appeared shortly and the KdF-Wagen was released in 1938. The KdF-Wagen would later become known as the Beetle and go on to sell in the millions.
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change in Ontario, Canada, has launched an official investigation into Volkswagen Canada and Audi Canada regarding their roles in the ongoing diesel emissions scandal that affects some 35,000 vehicles in the province, the ministry announced Wednesday.
The investigation is related to possible violations under Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act that prohibits the sale of vehicles that do not meet emissions standards.
(But, why is there a picture of a Chevrolet Silverado painted in army green at the top? Hold on. We’ll get there.)
A former federal official and the Environmental Protection Agency said that German supplier Bosch didn’t supply Volkswagen — or other automakers — with cheating software, implying that Volkswagen engineers acted alone in deceiving emission tests, Reuters reported (via Automotive News).
According to the report, Bosch supplies the engine control management unit for most four-cylinder diesel passenger cars, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW and others. Both BMW and Mercedes have said their cars do not have software that cheats emission tests.
Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn testified to a congressional committee Thursday that he wasn’t aware until last month of the illegal “defeat device” installed on nearly 500,000 cars in the U.S. — approximately 11 million worldwide — and that the car company could take several years to fix its cars.
Horn testified in front of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce’s subcommittee for oversight and investigations for more than two hours.
“I would like to offer a sincere apology for Volkswagen’s use of a software program that served to defeat the regular emissions testing regime,” Horn said in a prepared response before answering questions from representatives.
This will likely come as a bit of a surprise to those of you who get your news through glass bottles tossed into the ocean and carried by persistent currents to the remote island on which you’ve been stranded by the crash of your FedEx plane, but Volkswagen is in a little bit of trouble due to some questions about diesel emissions. I think it’s a safe bet that the fellow I saw on Route 71 the other day with “TDI LOVE” as the license plate on his Jetta isn’t feelin’ it.
While the New New Beetle — now called just Beetle — was available as a TDI prior to the current kerfuffle, the version that I rented on Monday is powered by the same turbocharged gasoline engine that I liked in the Jetta TSI earlier this year. As tested, it’s $22,615.
Volkswagen offices and private residences were raided Thursday morning in Wolfsburg as part of the ongoing investigation into the company’s emission scheme that saw “defeat devices” used in its 2.0-liter diesel vehicles, reports German media outlet HAZ.
A team of approximately 50 task force personnel from the Lower Saxony’s office of criminal investigation raided multiple locations to gather evidence on those involved in the scandal.
In a prepared statement released ahead of congressional testimony Thursday, Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn said the automaker knew of emissions issues last spring when West Virginia University researchers published findings that the automaker’s cars were illegally polluting. (Emphasis mine.)
In the spring of 2014 when the West Virginia University study was published, I was told that there was a possible emissions non-compliance that could be remedied. I was informed that EPA regulations included various penalties for non-compliance with the emissions standards and that the agencies can conduct engineering tests which could include “defeat device” testing or analysis. I was also informed that the company engineers would work with the agencies to resolve the issue.
(Should have followed up a little more on that email, probably.)
“They wanted a special deal for diesel cars that we now know weren’t even meeting the standard,” Margo Oge, a former director of the E.P.A. Office of Transportation and Air Quality, told the New York Times.
Volkswagen’s supervisory board confirmed its appointment of Hans Dieter Pötsch to its top seat during a scandal rocking the 78-year-old automaker, the company announced Wednesday.
Pötsch said he would continue the investigation as chairman:
I will do my utmost to uncover the full truth of what happened. I am firmly resolved to make my contribution so that Volkswagen can win back the trust of customers, the public, investors and business partners. And I believe my central task is to play my part in guiding Volkswagen towards a successful future.