In a sign that the air-pollution scandal engulfing Volkswagen could spread, California regulators on Friday warned other automakers that they would soon start checking more cars for “defeat devices” that can cheat government emissions tests.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) told the BBC that it would join the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) investigation into VW.
Volkswagen installed software that sacrifices fuel efficiency to reduce emissions only during testing.
The company admitted earlier this week that 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide are equipped with the software that covertly turns on pollution controls when the auto is being tested, and off when it is being driven.
“We aren’t going to tell them what these tests are”.
California regulators found that Volkswagen diesel emissions were ten to 40 times higher than they initially tested.
The testing, officials say, begins Friday.
The scandal has caused Volkswagen’s stock to plummet 25 percent since the close of trading on September 18, when the EPA announced a notice of violations against the German manufacturer.
The agency will increase borrowing cars from vehicle owners for surprise spot checks, making sure the results align with data automakers submit on their EPA applications, Grundler said.
The agency also plans to redeploy some of its 23 mobile emissions testing platforms, the system that West Virginia University researchers used to discover the testing scam in the first place. The agency did have on-road testing equipment – but it was assigned to monitor automaker gas mileage estimates and heavy-duty diesel trucks, where cheating had been uncovered in the past.
Alexander Dobrindt, Germany’s transport minister, said VW had confirmed the affected vehicles include cars with 1.6-litre and 2-litre diesel engines in Europe.
The German company is facing a potential $US18 billion ($A25.60 billion) in EPA fines, with the scandal also costing chief executive Martin Winterkorn his job.
Its board on Friday named Matthias Müller, who’s now chairman of Porsche AG, as the company’s new CEO.
In a letter to manufacturers, the EPA said it would inspect for “defeat devices”, which are essentially just lines of code in the cars’ computers.