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Volkswagen cars and the scandal

Volkswagen’s “diesel dupe” took the bad auto PR crown last year! But what exactly happened and what are the ramifications? We explore the scandal…

The Sitrep

On the 18th of September 2015 the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that some Volkswagen cars being sold in the US had been manipulated to allow the diesel engines to detect when they were being tested. If they discovered they were being tested, they would change the performance accordingly to improve their results. Ouch! 

Low Emissions

Here’s the (even worse) rub – Volkswagen has been pushing diesel cars in the US with all their marketing efforts focused on the cars’ low emissions. The EPA’s findings were limited to the US and cover around 482,000 VW-manufactured cars, including the Audi A3. Since then though, Volkswagen has owned up and admitted that around 11 million cars all over the globe (including Europe) have been fitted with the “defeat device”.

The Defeat Device

Volkswagen hasn’t been particularly forthcoming about the exact details of how it all works. But the EPA stated that the engines were fitted with computer software that allowed them to sense a test environment by paying attention to speed, operation, air pressure and the steering wheel position.

The device was capable of putting the engine into some sort of safety mode; this allowed the engine to run below the normal power and performance. However this only occurred when the car appeared to be being used in a controlled, laboratory condition. Once in the clear and on the road the engine switched back to normal. And, consequentially, emitted nitrogen oxide pollutants up to 40 times above levels allowed in the US. Whoopsie daisy.

VW Response

The VW top dog, Michael Horn admitted: “We’ve totally screwed up”. The group’s (now ex) chief executive Martin Winterkorn said that they have broken the trust of their customers and the public, hence his resignation.

Winterkorn was replaced by the former boss of Porsche, Matthias Müller, who upon appointment stated his most urgent task was to win back the trust which he planned to do by leaving “no stone unturned”. The group has since launched an internal inquiry.

Recalls and Compensation

The group plans to recall millions of cars from all over the globe in early 2016 – a task for which they have set aside an eye-watering £4.8 billion for. Consequently, the group had to endure their first quarterly loss for fifteen years. And things are set to get worse. The EPA actually has the power to fine companies up to $37,500 for every single vehicle which breaches their standards. So Volkswagen could be facing a fine of up to $18 billion.

Then there are the potential customer lawsuits, which Volkswagen said could not be estimated at the moment. However Matthias Müller has confirmed they are currently working on package of compensation for customers – and not just those in the US either.

He made the announcement at a press conference in Germany where the chairman of the supervisory board Hans Dieter Pötsch also stated the group would share real emission figures for their future vehicles, which have been backed by independent testing authorities.

VW Warranties

Go Car Warranty offer excellent extended car warranty packages on VW cars, find out more about our VW Car Warranties.


published: 26/01/2016 09:08:42

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