Supplier Bosch Under Investigation for Role in VW Cheating Scandal

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

Auto supply giant Bosch is being investigated for its part in the widespread emissions cheating scandal that has engulfed Volkswagen, Bloomberg reported ( via Automotive News).

Prosecutors in Stuttgart say that they’ve contacted the company, which supplied Volkswagen with engine control modules that helped the cars illegally pass emissions tests, about their role in engineering the illegal devices.

A spokeswoman for Bosch said it would comply with requests from authorities.

In September, German newspaper Bild am Sonntag reported that Bosch may have warned Volkswagen in 2007 that the software it supplied would be illegal to use on the road. A company spokesman said that it supplied parts to Volkswagen, but was not responsible for how engineers at the automaker used those parts.

“In the wake of what was reported about the emissions case at Volkswagen, we concluded that someone must have produced the software,” Claudia Krauth, a spokeswoman for prosecutors in Stuttgart, told Bloomberg. “It was obvious which company came into question.”

Bosch is a worldwide auto parts supplier with components in millions of cars.

(Photo courtesy Flickr)

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  • Tekdemon Tekdemon on Dec 16, 2015

    Well it really depends on how Bosch supplied this stuff. If they gave them a bunch of firmware files including a "test file" for "offroad use" or some nonsense and then VW flashed the cheating firmware onto all the ECUs themselves then I suppose Bosch might come out clean by saying that they had no control over what VW did with the firmware. But I'm pretty sure that Bosch is also the producer of the ECUs, so if they produced and shipped several million ECUs with the cheater firmware already on there it'd be pretty hard for them to claim that they didn't know that VW used this illegal firmware in production vehicles. You don't ship over millions of ECUs for protoype testing.

    • NickS NickS on Dec 16, 2015

      Let's me clear up what I meant. Bosch gave them prototype code, VW used that to develop the full PCM suite, then gave it back to Bosch to embed into all production ECUs that VW was buying from them. Bosch knew, but I would imagine that even after sending VW a warning letter their legal team also made a determination that their contract isolated them from any liability. But I agree, this looks like knowingly abetting someone to circumvent laws. It would be akin to supplying thousands of microwave oven doors with no radiation shield to an appliance maker. I find it hard to believe that such decisions were made in the absence of the full and often overbearing presence from the company's internal legal teams. That would be a huge risk to Bosch even if the trade-off was first dibs in a nascent market. In all the product development I've worked in it took forever and a day to hash out all legal issues and quantify legal risk. Did VW and Bosch do none of it, or were they incredibly inept at it?

  • Big Al from Oz Big Al from Oz on Dec 16, 2015

    I wonder how many secrets Bosch is "withholding" related to other manufacturers. Bosch is a huge supplier to the auto industry.

  • DrunkMike DrunkMike on Dec 16, 2015

    As a former cog in the great machine. I assure you SW, calibrations, features, configurations, etc... don't make it to "serial production" unknowingly to Bosch.

  • Voyager Voyager on Dec 16, 2015

    Bigger news is that the European Parliament voted against the proposal, that countries like Germany and the UK insisted on, to allow a 110% (!) deviation over the legal limit. And... there's likely to come a sort of parliamentary investigation how emission testing and approvals take place.