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Eleven million of Volkswagen diesel cars used dual calibration to defeat emissions

22 September 2015

Following the notification by the US EPA and California ARB, Volkswagen AG has admitted that the “irregularities” concerning their diesel engine software affect some 11 million cars worldwide. The VW diesel engines were equipped with dual calibration—a low emission calibration was activated during the regulatory emission test cycle. The software switched to a high emission (and lower fuel and urea consumption) calibration during real driving on the road.

Volkswagen is “working intensely” to eliminate the deviations between bench test results and real driving emissions through technical measures. The company said it is in contact with the relevant authorities and the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA – Kraftfahrtbundesamt).

Volkswagen plans to set aside a provision of 6.5 billion EUR to cover the potential costs of the crisis. The company could potentially face even higher fines if a criminal investigation is launched in the United States, as well as possible charges for its executives and legal action from customers and shareholders. VW shares have lost about one third of their value over two days of trading.

The dual engine calibration in VW cars was discovered through testing by the California ARB. Under the US Clean Air Act, dual engine calibration designed to defeat regulatory emission testing is considered an illegal “emission defeat device”. High levels of in-use NOx emissions from diesel cars have been reported by a number of European studies for several years. And yet, no regulatory action has ever followed, raising questions about the efficacy of emission standard enforcement in the European Union. It appears that most of the 11 million affected vehicles have been sold in Europe. Out of that total, only 482,000 cars were sold in the United States.

“A noticeable deviation between bench test results and actual road use” was established solely in vehicles with one type of engine, the Type EA189—according to Volkswagen. This statement, however, is in apparent contradiction with the list of affected car models that includes model year 2015 vehicles. In the Fall of 2014, VW launched their new EA288 diesel engine, to power several of their 2015 models in the North American market.

New vehicles from the Volkswagen Group with Euro 6 diesel engines currently available in the European Union comply with legal requirements and environmental standards, said the company. The software in question does not affect handling, consumption or emissions.

Source: Volkswagen AG