Report: VW Knew About Fuel Efficiency Discrepancies A Year Ago

Earlier this month, Volkswagen announced that an internal investigation into the carmaker’s use of “defeat devices” to evade emission standards in nearly 11 million vehicles worldwide uncovered a second issue: nearly 800,000 cars included understated levels of carbon monoxide emissions and rule usage. But a new report puts the timing of the finding into question, with some sources claiming executives with the car manufacturer knew of the problem more than a year ago. 

Reuters, citing German Publication Bild am Sonntag, reports that VW executives were previously made aware that many of its vehicles were less fuel-efficient than marketed.

Investigators for VW initially said on Nov. 3, that an internal probe meant to clear up the ongoing diesel emissions scandal found that CO2 levels and fuel consumption figures for some models were set too low during the carbon certification process.

“Based on present knowledge around 800,000 vehicles from the Volkswagen Group could be affected,” the company said in a statement. “An initial estimate puts the economic risks at approximately two billion euros (about $2.19 billion).”

While VW declined to comment on whether or not the company had knowledge of the overstated fuel efficiency numbers a year ago, Bild am Sonntag reports that former chief executive Martin Winterkorn decided in the spring to pull one model off the market related to the discrepancy.

That car, not sold in the U.S., was the Polo TDI BlueMotion. Reuters reports that VW said at the time – and reiterated on Sunday – that the car was pulled because of low sales figures.

“The offering of the Blue Motion TDI Polo was suspended in all markets due to subdued demand,” a VW spokesperson tells Reuters. “We are currently testing all models built from 2012 for differences in CO2 levels from the listed values.”

In other VW news on Monday, Bloomberg reports the carmaker has submitted fixes for the defeat devices in all three of its diesel motor types in Germany.

While the plans, if approved, for a fix in Germany will likely cover all 8.5 million vehicles affected in Europe, that doesn’t mean U.S. regulators will give the proposals the go-ahead.

On Nov. 20, the Environmental Protection Agency and California Air Resources Board – the agencies that first brought the emissions scandal to light – announced that VW had submitted its initial proposal for addressing the issue in its 2.0-liter diesel vehicles.

It’s unclear for now what the proposed fixes – both in the U.S. and Europe – entail.

VW knew fuel usage in some cars was too high a year ago: report [Reuters]
VW Proposes Fixes for All Three Dirty Diesel Motors in Germany [Bloomberg]