VOLKSWAGEN’S role in “dieselgate” has rocked the car industry to its core.
The German manufacturer has now been slapped with a vast £1.2billion fine after admitting to altering cars to beat emissions testing. Here’s what we know the scandal…
What was the Volkswagen emissions scandal?
Volkswagen admitted that 11million vehicles were fitted with software which was used to cheat on emissions tests.
This technology sensed when the car was being tested and activated equipment which reduced emissions – but then turned it back up during regular on-road driving.
Thousands of cars across the world were recalled when the scandal emerged in 2015, including 1.2million UK diesel vehicles.
This included 508,276 Volkswagen cars, 393,450 Audis, 131,569 Skodas, 79,838 VW commercial vehicles and 76,773 Seats.
In February 2017, The Sun reported that fewer than half the affected UK vehicles had been fixed.
In America VW agreed a £12.3billion settlement.
A lawsuit representing more than 55,000 owners was brought against the VW Group over the Dieselgate scandal on March 27, 2018.
It claims British owners deserve a compensation payout over the “defeat devices”.
In June 2018, Volkswagen was hit with a £1.2billion fine – thought to the the biggest penalty given to a European firm.
The fine is one of the highest ever imposed by German authorities against a company.
Volkswagen will not be appealing the fine.
It follows a US plea agreement last year, when VW agreed to pay a criminal fine of $4.3bn to resolve criminal and civil penalties.
What is ex-chief Martin Winterkorn being charged with?
The former chief of Volkswagen has been charged with conspiracy and wire fraud in relation to the emission’s scandal by US officials.
Court documents from Detroit show he faces the charges for “misleading officials” – Winterkorn has always denied knowledge of the defeat device fix and resigned in 2015 as dieselgate broke.
The documents were unsealed on May 3 and shows five other VW executives are also being charged in the indictment but Winterkorn is the most senior official to be charged over the scandal.
US attorney general Jeff Sessions said: “These are serious allegations and we’ll prosecute this case to the full extent of the law.”
Winterkorn is also facing a criminal investigation in Germany.
What was the defeat device fix?
It emerged that when the cars were operating under controlled laboratory conditions – which typically involve putting them on a stationary test rig – the device put the vehicle in a type of safety mode.
This meant the engine ran below normal power and performance.
Once on the road, the engines switched out of this test mode, reported the BBC.
It is thought this was to save fuel, and boost the torque and acceleration.
Researchers found that when tested some cars emitted almost 40 times the permitted levels of nitrogen oxides, according to the New York Times.
This pollutant that can cause emphysema, bronchitis and other respiratory diseases.
What is the limp mode reported by VW drivers?
After the diesel emissions scandal Volkswagen issued a 1.2million car recall across Britain to update engine software on their 2.0-litre EA 189.
BBC’s Watchdog spoke to worried drivers, who claim their cars have been going into “limp mode” – when a car loses power, resulting in rapid deceleration – after what should have been a routine repair to remove the “defeat device” software.
Speaking to the BBC, Kirsty Blackwell, from Wiltshire, said she was driving her VW Caddy and travelling with her children at 70mph on the motorway when her car started losing power.
Kirsty said: “My children started to panic, because they didn’t know what was happening.
“It took a lot of concentration to get the car safely off the road, with lorries thundering past in the dark.”
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Lisa Bryant-Jones, from Chepstow, also took her VW Passat in for the defeat device fix, and found that her car kept going into limp mode afterwards.
MP Louise Elman, who chaired the Transport Select Committee that questioned bosses earlier this year, said: “This is simply outrageous – Volkswagen should stop denying the problem they’ve created and put things right.”
A Sun Online investigation previously revealed that some VW customers were terrified to drive after their cars lost power while driving on the motorway.
Members of the Volkswagen Diesel Customer Forum, a closed Facebook group, are also seeking an explanation after their vehicles were allegedly negatively affected by the engine updates.
In the UK, the Volkswagen Group has implemented the technical measures in more than 720,000 vehicles and in over 5 million vehicles across Europe. To be clear, there is no systemic problem. The overwhelming majority of our customers have been fully satisfied.
Implementation of the technical measures does not cause limp home mode to engage nor does it increase the incidence of limp home mode occurring. Limp home mode is a safety feature of our, and many other, vehicles. It is activated as a precaution if a vehicle experiences a fault.
Relevant authorities have confirmed that the technical measures have no adverse impact on the MPG figures, the CO2 emissions figures, engine output, maximum torque and noise of the affected vehicles. Nor does the implementation of the technical measures have a negative impact on the durability of the engine or the emission control system.
Our customers are our number one priority and we are committed to investigating any complaints that are raised with a view to preserving customer satisfaction. If any of our customers do experience issues with their vehicle, whether or not they believe them to be related to the technical measures, they should call 08000 930049.
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