The country’s Environmental Protection Agency is investigating the German auto-maker for intentionally using the sophisticated computer programme to circumvent nitrogen oxide emissions rules for its diesel cars, making them appear up to 40 times cleaner in tests.
Volkswagen has said that 11 million of its cars around the world could be affected in the scandal that broke last week.
The government’s ruling affects diesel models containing “defeat devices” – software able to change the engine’s performance and run cleaner during official testing.
The EPA sent letters to automakers on Friday to warn them that it will take new steps to prevent emissions test cheating.
“We aren’t going to tell them what these tests are”, Christopher Grundler, the director of the EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality, explained during the call.
The agency does have on-road testing equipment, but it is used to monitor automaker gas mileage estimates and heavy-duty diesel trucks, where cheating had been uncovered in the past.
And no longer will the EPA rely on vehicles exclusively provided by manufacturers. The company said it is willing to discuss its testing procedures with relevant authorities as well as make its vehicles available for testing at any time.
The announcement came after Volkswagen appointed Porsche chief Matthias Mueller Friday to steer it out of the widening scandal over pollution test rigging (See: Porche’s Mueller to replace Winterkorn at Volkswagen).
And in the U.S., the Justice Department said it is taking the allegations against the company “very seriously” and announced an investigation.
The US EPA isn’t alone in its toughening of testing practices. “We are not going to tell manufacturers what these new tests are”.
The VW case has similarities to those involving General Motors ‘ defective ignition switches and Takata Corp.’s exploding air-bag inflators, where it also took years before those problems were disclosed to consumers, Nelson said. VW also faces billions in fines.
Volkswagen – According to a 1974 account published in the Wall Street Journal, the EPA filed a complaint against Volkswagen that year, alleging the company failed to reveal the existence of two devices that altered emissions controls in about 25,000 1973 model VWs.
The European Union will introduce new tests from next year, with on-road testing complementing the laboratory work that is now being done. BMW actually claims it’s not possible to meet the requirements without modern diesel engines, as diesels produce from 15 to 20 percent less Carbon dioxide than the standard petrol engine, on average.