VW employees began working on emissions cheat in 2005, execs say

WOLFSBURG, Germany -- A small group of Volkswagen engineers began working as early as 2005 on emissions cheating software after they were unable to find a technical solution to U.S.

See Full Article

emissions controls as the automaker pushed into the North American market, executives said Thursday.

The company in September admitted to have cheated on U.S. diesel emissions tests with the help of software installed in engines. The software was built into 11 million cars globally, about 500,000 of which in the U.S., from 2009 to 2015.

It has so far confirmed to have cheated only on the U.S. tests, which are more rigorous than European ones for the polluting emission nitrogen oxide.

In an update on the company's investigation in the case, Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said engineers in 2005 were unable to find a technical solution to U.S. nitrogen oxide emissions within their "timeframe and budget" and came up with the software that manipulated results when lab testing was done.

Later, when a technical solution became available, it was not employed, Poetsch said.

"We are not talking about a one-off mistake, but a whole chain of mistakes that was not interrupted at any point along the time line," he told reporters at Volkswagen headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany.

He said Volkswagen was "relentlessly searching for those responsible" and that those who were would be brought to account.

"We still do not know whether the people who were involved in this issue from 2005 to the present day were fully aware of the risks they were taking and of the potential damage they could expose the company to, but that's another issue we will find out," he said.

CEO Matthias Mueller said the investigation so far had revealed that "information was not shared, it stayed within a small circle of people who were engineers."

Poetsch confirmed the company had suspended nine managers for possible involvement in the scandal. He said there are so far no indications that board members were directly involved, but the company's probe is ongoing and broad.

"This is not only about direct, but overall responsibility," he said.

He said the investigation has so far analyzed data from laptops, phones and other devices from 400 employees. More than 2,000 have been informed in writing that they cannot delete any data in case it becomes relevant to the investigation, he said.

External auditors have already gone through 102 terabytes of data, which he said was the equivalent of 50 million books.

"I'm not saying all of those people are under suspicion, but what it means is that on computers, SIM cards, or USB sticks there might be information that could be important," he said. "We still believe that only a comparatively small number of employees was actually actively involved in the manipulations."

Mueller said that the scandal had so far not caused the massive slump in business that some had feared earlier. "The situation is not dramatic, but as expected it is tense." Sales in the U.S. fell nearly 25 per cent in November, the first month to show the full impact of the scandal. Figures for the European Union are due next week.

"We are fighting for every customer and every car."

He suggested that the company was not considering any cuts to fulltime jobs, but that it might have to shed some workers with fixed-term contracts.

"Temporary jobs are a tool of ensuring flexibility, that is not new," he said. "If changes come to our production, then this may have an impact on the number of temporary workers."

Mueller said Volkswagen's finances are strong enough, however, that the company does not have to consider selling any units to cope with the costs of the scandal as has been speculated by some. The automaker has estimated the scandal would cost 6.7 billion euros, though analysts expect that figure to ultimately be much higher.

On Thursday, Volkswagen's preference shares were up 0.7 per cent at 132.70 euros.

To help restore confidence in the company and prevent a repeat of such a scandal, Poetsch announced that Volkswagen was instituting new, more stringent and transparent emissions testing for all of its vehicles. He said Volkswagen would go beyond lab tests -- so far the norm in the U.S. and Europe -- had proved too easy to cheat.

"Our emissions tests will, in future, be verified by external and independent third parties," he said. "We will also be introducing universal on-road emissions measurements during real-life driving, and we hope that will help us win back trust."

Rising reported from Berlin.



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Chevron says it has won the latest round in an Ecuadorian legal battle

    Economic CTV News
    Oil giant Chevron Corp. says it has won a round in the Canadian courts in a complex legal battle with a group of Ecuadorian villagers who are trying to collect on a massive judgement they won in Ecuador's courts. Source
  • Liberals ask President Trump to approve Keystone XL pipeline

    Economic CTV News
    Canada’s natural resources minister says that he hopes the new U.S. administration will allow the Keystone XL pipeline quashed by Barack Obama to proceed, noting that all Canadian regulatory approvals are in place. Jim Carr spoke to CTV’s Power Play from Washington, D.C. Source
  • Apple depicts Qualcomm as a shady monopolist in US$1B lawsuit

    Economic CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- Apple is suing mobile chip maker Qualcomm for $1 billion in a patent fight pitting the iPhone maker against one of its major suppliers. The 100-page complaint filed Friday in a San Diego federal court depicts Qualcomm as a greedy monopolist abusing its power in a key segment of the mobile chip market to extort royalties for iPhone innovations that have nothing to do with Qualcomm's technology. Source
  • Trump's 'America first' tone worries head of Canadian oil and gas industry group

    Economic CTV News
    Trump takes charge: Sworn in as 45th president of the U.S.A. Source
  • Obama administration urges Canada to reverse Super Bowl ad decision

    Economic CTV News
    OTTAWA - In one of its final communications with Canada, the outgoing Obama administration is engaging in pigskin politics: asking the Trudeau government to overturn a regulation affecting ads during the Super Bowl. The U.S. Source
  • Oil and stock prices higher as Donald Trump sworn in

    Economic CBC News
    Stock markets responded to the first day of the Trump Administration in a largely positive way, with the Dow Jones, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 all higher on the day of his swearing in. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by nearly 100 points to 19,829 just minutes before the new president formally acceded to the position. Source
  • Stocks higher as Donald Trump lays out glimpse of future economic policies

    Economic CBC News
    Stock markets responded to the first day of the Trump Administration in a largely positive way, with the Dow Jones, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 all higher on the day of his swearing in. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by nearly 100 points to 19,829 just minutes before the new president formally acceded to the position. Source
  • Stocks close higher as Donald Trump lays out glimpse of future economic policies

    Economic CBC News
    Stock markets responded to the first day of the Trump Administration in a largely positive way, with the Dow Jones, the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 all higher on the day of his swearing in. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up by nearly 100 points to 19,829 just minutes before the new president formally acceded to the position. Source
  • Navdeep Bains defends open borders for global trade in Davos speech

    Economic CBC News
    Automakers on both sides of the border fear the potential negative effects of a Donald Trump presidency, Canada's economic development minister said Thursday as he met with international business and political leaders in Switzerland. Navdeep Bains said he's been having nervous conversations with concerned automakers, both at the recent auto show in Detroit and during his current visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos. Source
  • Will Trump end globalization? The doubt haunts Davos' elite

    Economic CTV News
    DAVOS, Switzerland -- It's been impossible to escape the shadow of Donald Trump at this year's gathering of the business elites at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Uncertainty over what Trump will do once he takes office Friday and whether his presidency will mark the end of globalization dominated discussions all week at this event, which more than any has become synonymous with international business. Source