Report: Volkswagen Knew Of “Defeat Devices” Eight Years Before EPA Action

An internal review spurred by the emissions scandal that has engulfed Volkswagen over the past week found that the carmaker knew that so-called “defeat devices,” used to trick emissions tests, were used in more than 11 million VW and 2.1 million Audi diesel vehicles for several years before the Environmental Protection Agency issued a violation notice to the manufacturer ordering it to recall some 500,000 sedans

The Associated Press, citing two German publications, reported Monday that VW’s internal investigation has so far found at least two incidents in which VW was made aware that the use of defeat devices were against the law.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, a German publication, reported on Sunday that VW’s internal investigation shows one of the company’s own technicians was aware of the software.

Back in 2011, an engineer reportedly expressed concern that using the device was illegal, but was ignored.

The same investigation turned up a letter, dated 2007, from parts supplier Bosch that warned the car company not to use the software during regular operations of vehicles.

According to Bild am Sonntag, sources uncovered the internal communications between Bosch and VW, with the parts supplier insisting that the software was for test purposes and that using it in regular operation would be against the law.

Bosch, one of the largest car parts suppliers in the world, admitted last week that it supplied many of the key components for the defeat devices as a way to evade emissions standards for certain pollutants with a range of serious health effects.

According to the EPA’s order [PDF], the “sophisticated software algorithm” in the vehicles is programmed to detect when the car is undergoing official emissions testing, and to only turn on full emissions control systems during that testing.

However, the effectiveness of these vehicles’ pollution emissions control devices is greatly reduced during all normal driving situations.

Volkswagen declined to address the new reports, saying it doesn’t comment on “rumors and speculation.”

“Volkswagen is working with all its strength to conduct a thorough and merciless investigation of this matter,” a spokesperson tells the AP.

In addition to new revelations that VW was aware that the defeat devices were illegal, CNBC reports that the company’s now former CEO Martin Winterkorn is under criminal investigation by German prosecutors related to fraud.

Winterkorn stepped down last week, noting that he took full responsibility for irregularities in nearly 11 million diesel vehicles found to contain “defeat devices,” the former CEO is at the center of the latest investigation into the manufacturer.

Also on Monday, Volkswagen’s U.S. CEO Michael Horn reminded consumers that their diesel vehicles, while they violated clean air rules, are still safe to drive, Bloomberg reports.

“When we have a remedy in place, customers will be notified of the next steps immediately,” Horn said in a video on a website the automaker released over the weekend to address the on-going emissions scandal.

Volkswagen said to be warned years ago about illegal emissions tricks [The Associated Press]
Volkswagen under fire: Former CEO under investigation [CNBC]

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