US regulators find Volkswagen cars used software to deliberately disguise pollution levels
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found the software in a number of Volkswagen Group diesel cars, including the Audi A3, VW Jetta, Beetle, Golf and Passat models. The EPA said the device on these models detects when the car is undergoing official emissions testing, and turns full emissions controls on only during the test.
What has VW had to say?
In a statement, the company said:
“Volkswagen is working at full speed to clarify irregularities concerning a particular software used in diesel engines.
“New vehicles from the Volkswagen Group with EU 6 diesel engines currently available in the European Union comply with legal requirements and environmental standards. The software in question does not affect handling, consumption or emissions. This gives clarity to customers and dealers.”
The statement went on:
“Further internal investigations conducted to date have established that the relevant engine management software is also installed in other Volkswagen Group vehicles with diesel engines. For the majority of these engines the software does not have any effect.
“Discrepancies relate to vehicles with Type EA 189 engines, involving some 11 million vehicles worldwide. A noticeable deviation between bench test results and actual road use was established solely for this type of engine. Volkswagen is working intensely to eliminate these deviations through technical measures. The company is therefore in contact with the relevant authorities and the German Federal Motor Transport Authority.”
The company also said:
“Volkswagen does not tolerate any kind of violation of laws whatsoever. It is and remains the top priority of the Board of Management to win back lost trust and to avert damage to our customers. The Group will inform the public on the further progress of the investigations constantly and transparently.”
What about the position in the UK?
Volkswagen and Audi could be facing a “credibility crisis” in the UK market after the revelation that emissions software was falsely set to meet US emissions tests, according to valuation specialist, Glass’s.
Quoted in the trade press, the company has warned that the scandal could negatively impact the appeal of the brands in the UK.
“Exactly how this plays out is very difficult to predict but it could affect the used values of Audis and VWs. These are brands built on decades of credibility and that credibility has been badly damaged,” Glass’s said.
The UK vehicle manufacturers’ trade body, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said there was “no evidence” that manufacturers are cheating the emissions testing system in Europe but admitted it needs to be reformed. Chief executive, Mike Hawes, said:
“The EU operates a fundamentally different system to the US – with all European tests performed in strict conditions as required by EU law and witnessed by a government-appointed independent approval agency. There is no evidence that manufacturers cheat the cycle.
“The industry acknowledges, however, that the current test method is outdated and is seeking agreement from the European Commission for a new emissions test that embraces new testing technologies and is more representative of on-road conditions.”
The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association said it was monitoring the situation. Chief Executive Gerry Keaney said:
“The rental and leasing industry plays a vital role in promoting the uptake of clean vehicles, and our sector will be affected by this announcement. Our members and their customers are concerned about the implications for this potentially reaching the UK, and will want to understand what it means for the domestic market.
“In recent years, the UK’s tax regime has encouraged fleets to choose vehicles based on official emissions figures, and while our emissions test is a fundamentally different system to the US, these revelations reinforce the need for a more accurate testing regime.”
A perspective from CLM
Gareth Hession, CLM’s Asset Risk Director said “Whilst the furore will continue in the media; at this point, it really is too early to speculate on the future of VW diesel residual values or running costs. In the meantime, knee-jerk reactions are not necessary; drivers of VW diesels are not affected, their vehicles will perform in the same way today as they did yesterday; the vehicles meet the standards required by the EU.