More car models pulled into Volkswagen emissions scandal

Porsche and Audi vehicles used devices to cheat tests, according to US regulators

The US Environmental Protection Agency said it is now looking at 3.0-litre V6 diesel engines used mostly in larger, more expensive models such as the the Porsche Cayenne sport utility vehicle. Photograph: Denis Balibouse/Reuters

The US Environmental Protection Agency said it is now looking at 3.0-litre V6 diesel engines used mostly in larger, more expensive models such as the the Porsche Cayenne sport utility vehicle. Photograph: Denis Balibouse/Reuters

 

US investigators have implicated the Volkswagen Group’s 3.0-litre TDI V6 diesel engine in the ever-expanding diesel scandal, an accusation which if proven could have significant consequences for the newly-revealed VW corporate structure.

The US Environmental Protection Agency has confirmed that a new strand of the ongoing investigation, into VW’s deliberate use of trick software to circumvent emissions testing cycles, will focus on the larger 3.0-litre engine in models such as the Audi A5 and A6 and, most critically of all, the Porsche Cayenne.

Volkswagen said in response to the EPA allegations that it had installed no software on its 3.0-litre V6 diesel cars to improperly change emissions values and that it was co-operating with the agency to fully investigate the matter.

Adding the 3.0-litre equipped models to the roster of cars to be rectified will not add enormously to the existing 11-million vehicle worldwide recall - in Ireland it would add just over 1,500 vehicles to the current recall of 116,000 vehicles - but it could have a major implication for the way VW has reorganised itself over the past few weeks.

Specifically, it brings Porsche into the mix - the sports car brand had so far been un-tainted by the scandal purely because its only diesel-engined models (the Panamera saloon and Cayenne SUV and the newly-launched Macan compact SUV) use the larger engine, and not the 2.0 and 1.6-litre units thus far under investigation.

That means that VW’s newly-appointed chief executive, Matthias Müller, could find his position undermined - his advancement to the CEO’s post, replacing the departing and disgraced Martin Winterkorn, was eased by the thought that Porsche could have played no part in the deception schemes which have rocked VW to its corporate core.

Thus far, Müller has been playing a strong game, rolling out a major investment programme to rush through new hybrid and pure-electric models as well as switching the next-generation Volkswagen Phaeton flagship saloon over from diesel and petrol power to batteries. “We have to look beyond the current situation and create the conditions for Volkswagen’s successful further development,” Müller said in Wolfsburg last week. “We will emerge from the current situation stronger than before.”

Müller has also said that VW Group’s individual brands will be given more leeway for individual model and technology development, and that would also be the case for the national sales regions. He has also backed VW away from its long-held ambition to be the world’s biggest car maker by volume, saying that selling 100,000 more or fewer vehicles than a competitor is less important than sustainable, qualitative and above all profitable growth.

Significantly though, Müller also said that the fallout from the emissions scandal had to leave behind it a changed VW corporate culture, one that was open and clear but also one that dealt with the actions of the past - that “those responsible for what has happened must face severe consequences.”

All of which sounds like good rhetoric, but if Porsche can also be shown to have been using the same ‘defeat device’ software under Mueller’s watch, then his position as the Group’s chief executive, barely four weeks old, could well be undermined.

“The latest revelations raise the question, where does VW’s road of deceit end?,” US energy and commerce committee chairman Fred Upton said in a statement, adding that the disclosure “prompts questions regarding the prevalence of the emissions cheating and how it went undetected for so long”.

Volkswagen has yet to come up with solutions to address illegal software on three generations of four-cylinder diesels first cited by the EPA on September 18th.

- (Additional reporting: Reuters)

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