Carmaking giant Volkswagen (VW) detected “anomalies” while running internal checks on a software update for their diesel engines, the company said on Sunday. The software measures emission values for a type of Volkswagen’s 1.2 liter diesel engine.
VW said the update was developed by a third party. The German auto concern did not provide details.
The carmaker is still dealing with the fallout from the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal over three years ago, when VW admitted to cheating on emission tests for millions of their diesel cars.
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After discovering the latest anomalies, the company “promptly moved” to inform Germany’s transport authority.
“Appointments have already been made for early January, in order to intensively pursue further checks and analysis,” VW said on Sunday.
“As a short-term precaution, there was a joint decision to halt the current implementation” of the update, according to company representatives.
‘Dieselgate’ costs to top €30 billion
VW had used malicious software to make emission values lower during official tests of their diesel engines. The company’s CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned over the scandal, which also saw US officials put the company’s American branch on trial in 2015.
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The company has already spent over €27 billion ($30.7 billion) in fines, damages, investors’ compensations, and technical upgrades for the affected cars, VW’s Chief Financial Officer Frank Witter said on Saturday.
“Dealing with (the emissions scandal) would keep us busy for a long time,” Witter told the Börsen-Zeitung daily.
The price tag for the emissions scandal will reach €5.5 billion in 2018 alone, with another €2 billion projected for 2019 and €1 billion for 2020, according to Witter.
About two weeks after Volkswagen admitted behind closed doors to US environmental regulators that it had installed cheating software in some 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide, the Environmental Protection Agency shared that information with the public. It was September 18, 2015. The ensuing crisis would eventually take a few unexpected turns.
Volkswagen’s then-CEO Martin Winterkorn (above) had little choice but to step down several days after news of the scandal broke. In September, he tendered his resignation, but retained his other posts within the Volkswagen Group. Winterkorn’s successor was Matthias Müller. Until taking the reins at VW, Müller had been the chairman at Porsche, a VW subsidiary.
Regulators in the US weren’t the only ones investigating VW. Authorities in Lower Saxony, the German state in which VW is based, were also scrutinizing the company. On October 8, state prosecutors raided VW’s headquarters along with several other corporate locations.
On January 4, 2016, the US government filed a lawsuit against VW in Detroit, accusing the German automaker of fraud and violations of American climate protection regulations. The lawsuit sought up to $46 billion for violations of the Clean Air Act.
In March, the head of VW in the US, Michael Horn, resigned. In the initial days and weeks after the scandal broke, he was the one US authorities turned to for information. He issued an official apology on behalf of the automaker, asking for the public’s forgiveness.
On October 25, a US judge approved a final settlement that would have VW pay $15.3 billion. In addition, affected cars would be retrofitted with better, non-deceptive hardware and software, or else VW would buy them back completely from customers.
When dieselgate first emerged in 2015, analysts said it was likely other car makers were also cheating tests. But it wasn’t until 2017 that other companies were targeted in probes. In July, German authorities launched investigations into luxury car makers Porsche and Daimler for allegedly cheating emissions tests. Others, such as Audi and Chrysler, have also been hit by similar allegations.
Despite dieselgate, VW has managed to keep the emissions scandal from utterly tarnishing its image. According to several polls, between 55 to 67 percent of Germans continue to trust the automaker. In the US, polls show that roughly 50 percent still believe the German company produces worthwhile vehicles.
In late January, however, VW suffered another heavy blow over reports that the company experimented on monkeys and made the animals inhale diesel fumes. To make matters worse, a separate experiment that had humans inhale relatively harmless nitrogen dioxide was revealed at the same time. Some media wrongly interpreted this to mean humans were also inhaling toxic fumes.
dj/jm (Reuters, AFP, dpa)