The New York Times says U.S. states attorneys general are accusing Volkswagen from withholding critical documents from their investigations into the automaker’s admission that more than 500,000 cars and SUVs in the U.S. were illegally polluting.
The report says that Volkswagen is citing a notoriously strict German law that protects data and documents from investigations overseas, and that their own investigations have stalled — similar to what federal regulators said when they filed a lawsuit against the automaker on Monday seeking billions.
Volkswagen didn’t comment on the report. (Read More…)
The European Union’s anti-fraud office is investigating Volkswagen for misusing publicly funded loans to develop illegally cheating software in its cars, the New York Times reported Wednesday.
Volkswagen was provided the low-interest loans by the European Investment Bank to develop engines that were more fuel-efficient and produce less carbon dioxide, according to the report. In September, the automaker admitted that 11 million vehicles worldwide polluted more than advertised and used an illegal “defeat device” to fool emissions tests.
The automaker’s woes compounded Wednesday: A European bank — partly funded by the U.S. — announced it would suspend a $327 million loan to Volkswagen that would have been used to build a $1.2 billion factory in Poland. That factory was slated to build commercial vehicles.
Volkswagen announced Thursday that the automaker’s investigation had identified institutional breakdowns and individual misconduct that led to the installation of more than 11 million “defeat devices” aimed at cheating emissions tests in its diesel cars.
Volkswagen Chairman Hans Dieter Pötsch told journalists and investors that some parts of the company “tolerated breaches of rules” while it developed the illegal devices, according to Automotive News.
Thursday’s announcement was an interim report on the internal investigation by Volkswagen that has already resulted in nine suspended employees, including a high-ranking engineer who was with the automaker for 30 years. Pötsch said the external investigation, which will be conducted by U.S. firm Jones Day, will continue well into 2016.
On her weekly podcast, German Prime Minister Angela Merkel said Volkswagen’s scandal hasn’t harmed the German automobile industry’s image, but that the automaker would need to conduct its investigation with transparency to restore faith in the country’s industry.
“A lot will depend on how Volkswagen deals with the issue,” Merkel said, according to Reuters.
Separately, sources told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung (via Reuters) that the automaker, under pressure from investigators, is offering amnesty to employees who reveal what they knew about its cheating devices. Amnesty won’t apply to top-level managers, according to the report.
Investigators at Volkswagen are not only looking for the culprits who installed illegal emissions cheating software into their cars, but they’re also looking for managers who didn’t immediately report the devices as well, the New York Times reported.
Up to 10 managers and engineers could be suspended by the automaker for the scandal so far, including top-level executives.
According to the New York Times, investigators have been keen to learn who knew what within the automaker, and how quickly those findings were reported.
The investigation by U.S. firm Jones Day could take months, according to the report. A person who was briefed on the inquiry told the newspaper what investigators were looking for.
Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn told congressional investigators he was made aware of a potential problem in the spring of 2014, but wasn’t aware of illegal software until Sept. 2015.
German magazine Der Spiegel reported Wednesday that at least 30 Volkswagen insiders and managers had knowledge of the illegal “defeat device” and there may be more.
The claim would somewhat refute to what Volkswagen of America chief Michael Horn testified in front of a congressional subcommittee last week when he told representatives that “a couple of software engineers” at Volkswagen in Germany were responsible for the the scandal that has cost the company billions of dollars.
Volkswagen hired U.S. firm Jones Day to conduct an external investigation while the company inquires internally how engineers installed software on 11 million diesel cars that would cheat emissions tests.
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.)
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.
Until now, the EPA’s investigation into NOx emissions has centered around Volkswagen’s four-cylinder diesel engines equipped in the Jetta, Golf, Golf/Jetta SportWagen, Beetle Coupe/Convertible, Passat and Audi A3. The EPA is now investigating the larger 3.0-liter diesel, used by Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche, to see if it is compliant or affected by the same “defeat device”, says David Shepardson of the Detroit News.
The larger diesel mill is used in the Touareg, Audi A6/A7/A8/Q7, and Porsche Cayenne.
More as we have it.
With NHTSA opening a formal defect investigation into the Chevy Volt, GM is moving to defend its rolling lightning rod (no pun intended) and allay consumer fears about its safety. Yesterday I briefly appeared on Fox Business’s Your World With Neil Cavuto show to talk about what the intro to my segment referred to as “the hybrid from hell” and the “killer in your garage.” I tried to explain that the danger to consumers was basically nil, and that the real concern is for rescue, towing and salvage workers. And I would have explained why NHTSA’s tests still leave some serious questions open, but my “fair and balanced” approach meant that my segment ended up being extremely short. So let’s take the opportunity now to look past the hysteria and pinpoint the real issues with NHTSA’s investigation into the Volt.