We’re heading into week three of the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. It’s a constantly changing situation, with new details coming out about how the automaker cheated U.S. emission tests for seven years using software that went undetected.
Monday, Audi confirmed that 2.1 million of its vehicles are impacted. Meanwhile, a new website for U.S. VW customers is up and running to provide the latest information. Also check out our statement on what to do if you have a VW diesel for more information.
Monday also came word that former CEO Martin Winterkorn, who resigned last week, is now facing a criminal fraud investigation in Germany. Winterkorn has been been replaced by Porsche head Matthias Muller, but he’ll reportedly get a $32 million retirement and severance package. He also didn’t admit to any involvement or knowledge of the device used to outsmart the system and make diesels perform better during testing than in the real world. About 500,000 VW diesels in the U.S. are impacted, but it totals 11 million VW and Audi’s worldwide.
The U.S. EPA says VW used software that came on only during testing, but no time else, to spew out fake emissions numbers. The agency says more than two dozen states are considering charges related to environmental regulations. Plus, there’s a U.S. federal investigation as well that could result in billions of dollars in fines for the automaker, just as it tries to make its U.S. comeback.
Last week, we also found out this didn’t just come out of thin air. VW had been warned by some that what is was doing was 100 percent illegal. Automotive News cites a German report that says Bosch, the company that supplied the software, warned VW as early as 2007 that the devices were for testing purposes only. Bosch also reportedly warned VW it would be illegal to use it in cars meant for the street. Another newspaper reported that a VW engineer even raised concerns with automaker management, as well.
The whole thing really took root in 2005, according to German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, when VW was developing its diesel engines. At the time, executives were looking for a way to pass U.S. emissions tests and save money at the time. The paper reports that the former head of VW, Wolfgang Bernhard, along with Audi engineer Rudolf Krebs determined at first to go with am urea-injection system similar to what BMW, Mercedes-Benz and some larger VW models use. But when cost-cutting came into play, that idea was nixed, development continued, Bosch software came into play and somewhere along it stayed.
So where does VW stand now? Well the company’s in a tailspin. It’s pulled nearly all of its ads in the U.S. including the new ones for the launch of its 2016 AppConnect technology featuring actors Adam Scott and Michael Peña.
Dealers also can’t sell any diesels right now while the scandal is sorted out. Friday, the automaker said it will help dealers out by compensate them for product taking up their inventory with a variety of measures.
There is certainly a long road ahead for VW as it tries to win back public trust, battle a growing number of legal issues and sort things out within the company itself.