'Weak Points' Led To Widespread Volkswagen Cheating, Says Top Execs

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole
weak points led to widespread volkswagen cheating says top execs

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.

Pötsch confirmed that the illegal software installed into Volkswagen’s EA189 diesel engines that reduced performance in order to comply with emissions tests was developed by the company to meet stricter U.S. standards — even though the engines couldn’t comply.

The Volkswagen chairman said that engineers, rushed to bring to market a U.S.-compliant engine under budget and on time, developed the cheating software. The cheat wasn’t a one-off mistake, rather a “chain of mistakes,” according to Automotive News.

Despite a worldwide scandal affecting millions of cars, Volkswagen emphasized that the work of individuals was to blame for the defeat devices that have cost the company billions already.

“It is clear that, in the past, deficiencies in processes have favored misconduct on the part of individuals,” the company wrote in a statement Thursday.

Volkswagen said it would make more transparent the engineering in its cars, and said, for example, that ECU management software would be reviewed four times before being installed.

Pötsch said that the “investigation is producing valuable findings, which will help us create a structure that, rather than favoring breaches of regulations, will prevent them, or at least allow them to be detected early on,” according to the automaker.

Volkswagen hasn’t revealed how its cars in the U.S. will be brought into compliance with emissions standards, but said Thursday that it would a bigger “technical challenge” to fix cars in the States. Volkswagen said it would begin recalling cars in Europe starting in January, beginning with the 2-liter engine.

New Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller said that the group would draw heavily on sources outside Germany to help bring the brand back from the diesel scandal. The automaker is planning a digital and electrification “offensive,” according to the automaker. Müller called for new ideas at the group:

We don’t need yes-men, but managers and engineers who make good arguments in support of their convictions and projects, who think and act like entrepreneurs. I am calling for people who are curious, independent, and pioneering. People who follow their instincts and are not merely guided by the possible consequences of impending failure. In short: the future at Volkswagen belongs to the bold. We need a little more Silicon Valley, coupled with the competence from Wolfsburg, Ingolstadt, Stuttgart, and the other Group locations.

According to Automotive News, Müller hinted that the group may not be preparing to sell off some of its brands such as Ducati, Bugatti, Lamborghini or heavy truck maker Scania.

“There is no reason whatsoever to get rid of these assets,” Müller said, according to the report. “We are looking forward to the future of VW. We want to make this company more modern, more open.”

Join the conversation
2 of 14 comments
  • Lou_BC Lou_BC on Dec 11, 2015

    VW had the goal of becoming the largest volume automotive company in the world. It even looked like they were ahead of schedule. Executives most likely were told that they (engineers) couldn't hit emissions goals without reallocation of recourses. That reallocation combined with engineering delays would interfere with VW's global top dog goals. Hubris is a bitch.

  • Shipwright Shipwright on Dec 11, 2015

    Rant on. What the hell is it with everyone, when caught doing something illegal, immoral of just plain stupid, explaining their way out of trouble by saying "Opps, I made a mistake". A mistake is putting on miss-matched socks in the morning in dark or picking up the wrong set of car keys when going out the door. The reality is that these people made a conscious decision knowing full well that what they were doing would break the law or cause injury of loss to someone else. I can somewhat understand some low IQ, mouth breathing fool using that excuse. But for a highly paid and educated "corporate leader" to make such a statement puts me in a rage. Rant off.

  • Alan The Prado shouldn't have the Landcruiser name attached. It isn't a Landcruiser as much as a Tacoma or 4 Runner or a FJ Cruiser. Toyota have used the Landcruiser name as a marketing exercise for years. In Australia the RAV4 even had Landcruiser attached years ago! The Toyota Landcruiser is the Landcruiser, not a tarted up Tacoma wagon.Here a GX Prado cost about $61k before on roads, this is about $41k USD. This is a 2.8 diesel 4x4 with all the off road tricky stuff, plus AC, power windows, etc. I'm wondering if Toyota will perform the Nissan Armada treatment on it and debase the Prado. The Patrol here is actually as capable and possibly more capable than the Landcruiser off road (according to some reviews). The Armada was 'muricanised and the off road ability was reduced a lot. Who ever heard of a 2 wheel drive Patrol.Does the US need the Prado? Why not. Another option to choose from built by Toyota that is overpriced and uses old tech.My sister had a Prado Grande, I didn't think much of it. It was narrow inside and not that comfortable. Her Grand Cherokee was more comfortable and now her Toureg is even more comfortable, but you can still feel the road in the seat of your pants and ears.
  • Jeffrey No tis vehicle doen't need to come to America. The market if flooded in this segment what we need are fun affordable vehicles.
  • Nrd515 I don't really see the point of annual inspections, especially when the car is under 3 years (warranty) old. Inspections should be safety related, ONLY, none of the nonsensical CA ARB rules that end up being something like, "Your air intake doesn't have an ARB sticker on it, so you have to remove it and buy one just like it that does have the ARB sticker on it!". If the car or whatever isn't puking smoke out of it, and it doesn't make your eyes water, like an old Chevy Bel-Air I was behind on Wed did, it's fine. I was stuck in traffic behind that old car, and wow, the gasoline smell was super potent. It was in nice shape, but man, it was choking me. I was amused by the 80 something old guy driving it, he even had a hat with a feather in it, THE sign of someone you don't want to be driving anywhere near you.
  • Lou_BC "15mpg EPA" The 2023 ZR2 Colorado is supposed to be 16 mpg
  • ToolGuy "The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant ride height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII."• I am not sure that ride height means what you think it means.Elaboration: There is some possible disagreement about what "ride height" refers to. Some say ground clearance, some say H point (without calling it that), some say something else. But none of those people would use a number of over 4 feet for a stock Mark anything.Then you go on to use it correctly ("A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics.") so what do I know. Plus, I ended a sentence with a preposition. 🙂