The German automaker Volkswagen has stated that more of its engines may be in violation of European pollution laws, according to The New York Times. The specific engine model, the EA 288, was already found to be in violation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations and will not necessitate a broader recall in the United States. In fact, Volkswagen has stated that this development is not likely to significantly broaden the recall in Europe, though officials declined to provide any exact figures.
This is the latest development in an ongoing emissions-cheating scandal that already involves 11 million vehicles all over the world that were equipped with another of Volkswagen’s engine lines, the EA 189. These vehicles all included illegal software that would only activate the emissions controls during official emissions testing, and that would otherwise deactivate those controls in order to improve vehicle performance.
Though Volkswagen maintains that its misconduct was limited to just a few of its key executives and engineers who are responsible for outfitting their vehicles with this emissions-cheating software, the investigation into the matter has only just begun.
Volkswagen has withdrawn all 2016 models of its diesel cars from environmental certification in the U.S. due to the revelation of a second program designed to affect the emissions controls in their vehicles. Federal regulators, along with California state agencies, are investigating the recently revealed device to determine whether or not it violates American emission standards.
The head of Volkswagen’s American unit, Michael Horn, disclosed the existence of the software in testimony given before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee. The company has stated that it failed to disclose the software and seek approval before introducing these vehicles into the market, giving this explanation as their reason for withdrawal.
According to agency spokesman Nick Conger, “VW did very recently provide E.P.A. with very preliminary information on an auxiliary emissions control device that VW said was included in one or more model years. [Regulators] are investigating the nature and purpose of this recently identified device.” Volkswagen has refused to comment on whether or not this software was designed to be a second cheat for the emissions control tests like the program that came to light in September and was able to detect when the vehicles were undergoing tests in order to minimize emissions.
According to an analysis by The Associated Press, Germany-based automotive manufacturing company Volkswagen Group has been causing the death of between five and twenty people in the United States annually in recent years, all due to its schemes of getting around emission control levels imposed by the government.
VW admitted that its vehicles have computer software which allows them to sidestep the government-mandated emissions tests designed to minimize air pollution by detecting when a test is taking place and reducing emissions during that time. The amount of pollution emitted by these vehicles when testing is not in progress may have been the cause of anywhere from 16 to 94 deaths over the past seven years in America alone.
Carnegie Mellon environmental engineer professor Peter Adams corroborated AP’s assessment, saying, “statistically, we can’t point out who died because of this policy, but some people have died or likely died as a result of this.” The computer software designed to cheat the system has allowed these vehicles to produce 10 to 40 times more nitrogen oxides than government regulations permit.
The recent Volkswagen scandal that has rocked the automotive industry is said to have started as early as 2008. Volkswagen recently admitted to installing illegal devices in their “clean diesel” vehicles that could detect when an emissions test was being performed. The devices would then activate and emit at levels that could pass the test, but actual levels of pollutants released by their vehicles were up to 40 times the legal amount.
It is said that these devices started being installed in VW vehicles in 2008 after the company realized that their diesel engines, in which they had invested millions of research dollars, could not meet regulation standards. Rather than continuing research and developing more expensive engines that could pass emission tests, VW installed the illegal devices in up to 11 million of its vehicles worldwide.
It is still unclear which company officials were involved in the scandal, but three top managers have already been suspended in addition to the company’s CEO stepping down. Volkswagen has seen intense backlash, with stock prices falling and a number of consumer suits on the horizon against the German automaker. VW promises to continue intense investigations into the scandal and is expected to release information from an internal inquiry later this week.