US regulators have discovered that Volkswagen’s 2016 diesel models have additional suspect software that potentially allows exhaust systems to run cleaner on government tests. They are now saying there are many more questions to ask about this new cheating software. Volkswagen is the world’s largest automaker.
“We have a long list of questions for VW about this”, says Janet McCabe, the acting assistant EPA administrator for air quality. “We’re getting some answers from them, but we do not have all the answers yet”.
That’s more bad news for VW dealers who are looking for new cars to replace the ones that cannot be sold anymore because of the worldwide cheating scandal.
A thorough investigation has already been announced. Depending on what the US Environmental Protection Agency eventually finds, it raises the possibility of even more severe punishment. Volkswagen has confirmed that the “auxiliary emissions control device” operates differently from the “defeat” device software included in the company’s 2009 to 2015 models disclosed last month.
This new software was first revealed to the Environmental Protection Agency and California regulators on September 29th. The company responded by withdrawing the application for approval to sell the 2016 cars in the United States.
Volkswagen already faces a criminal investigation and billions of dollars in fines for violating the Clean Air Act for its earlier emissions cheat, as well as a raft of state investigations and class-action lawsuits filed on behalf of customers.
If the EPA investigation reveals that this new software is a second defeat device to clear government emissions tests, then it would certainly question repeated assertions by top VW executives that the earlier misdeed was the responsibility of just a handful of rogue software developers who wrote the illegal code and installed them in their four-cylinder diesel engines.
Volkswagen directly employs 270,000 people, making it Germany’s biggest employer. However, millions in Germany’s auto-industry could be affected. Sales of VW vehicles could further plummet across the world. The brand image has already taken a serious beating, prompting the German Chancellor to ask the company to fix things quickly.