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Volkswagen has announced plans to recall up to 11 million vehicles worldwide as it seeks to address cars affected in its emissions scandal – and a company spokesman has confirmed that “large numbers” of UK cars will be affected.
In a statement, the firm says it will be contacting owners of the affected vehicles, with the technical measures needed to remedy the ‘cheat device’ installed on those cars due to be released in October.
A spokesman confirmed that VW will not rush a technical solution, preferring to focus on getting it right. He said: “We don’t want to be fast – we want to be certain. Over the next days and weeks we will write to all affected customers and we will put in place free-of-charge fixes for all affected customers.”
The spokesman said that the precise nature of the modifications is still being set, but it is believed that some vehicles will need just a software update, whilst others will require a hardware upgrade as well. Both jobs are described as a “simple service procedure” and said to be “simple and straightforward”.
However, the spokesman was unable to confirm whether the revisions would require the vehicle sto be recertified for their emissions and economy figures.
The official VW statement reads: “Under the action plan, Volkswagen and the other Group brands whose vehicles are affected will present the technical solutions and measures to the responsible authorities in October. Customers with these vehicles will be kept informed over the coming weeks and months. All of the Group brands affected will set up national websites to update customers on developments.
“An internal evaluation on Friday established that a service procedure is required for some five million vehicles from the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand out of a total eleven million Group vehicles worldwide. These vehicles from certain models and model years (such as the sixth generation Volkswagen Golf, the seventh generation Volkswagen Passat or the first generation Volkswagen Tiguan) are fitted with Type EA 189 diesel engines.”
Speaking at a meeting of top VW managers at the company’s Wolfsburg headquarters late yesterday evening, new VW boss Matthias Müller said that the “comprehensive” recall and refit plan had been drawn up to make sure that the cars affected by the scandal comply to the latest emissions standards.
The statement is the first sign of Volkswagen looking to address the problems caused by its scandal – something it has been under pressure to do since news of its cheating in US emissions tests emerged last week.
While the group has said that 11 million vehicles worldwide are affected by the scandal, only 5m are from Volkswagen brand itself. Audi has revealed that 2.1 million vehicles from its brand are affected worldwide, with 1.42 million of those being in Western Europe. Audi model lines affected include the A1, A3, A4, A5, A6, TT, Q3 andQ5 ranges. Over 500,000 of the affected cars are in Germany, with a further 13,000 in the US.
Skoda has also revealed that 1.2 million of its cars worldwide are affected by the scandal, but hasn’t declared how many of those are within Europe. Seat has said that 700,000 of its vehicles are affected globally.
“As previously announced, all new Volkswagen Passenger Car brand vehicles that fulfill the EU6 norm valid throughout Europe are not affected. This therefore also includes the current Golf, Passat and Touran models.”
The figures also include 1.8 million light commercial vehicles.
The first recall confirmed was the 480,000 VWs in the USA. Volkswagen has set up a website for owners of affected vehicles in the US, which features a video apology from the company’s US boss Michael Horn.
Herbert Diess, CEO of the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand said: “We are working at full speed on a technical solution that we will present to partners, to our customers and to the public as swiftly as possible. Our aim is to inform our customers as quickly as possible, so that their vehicles comply fully with regulations. I assure you that Volkswagen will do everything humanly possible to win back the trust of our customers, the dealerships and the public.”
The statement concluded by saying that the firm will establish where affected cars are and put in place remedial work. “We are working intensively on remedial measures in close coordination with the certification authorities. The vehicles are and remain technically safe and roadworthy,” it said.
‘European cars are affected’
These latest details come just days after German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt confirmed that Volkswagen’s emissions data manipulation software was present on cars sold in Europe.
Dobrindt told Sky News: “We have been informed that also in Europe, vehicles with 1.6 and 2.0 litre diesel engines are affected by the manipulations that are being talked about.”
VW has already confirmed that all of its cars sold with EU6 compliant engines have been legally certified.
VW’s global meltdown
There have been calls for governmental probes in to VW’s actions from around the world since the firm admitted cheating in the US emissions tests, including in Canada, Germany, Italy, South Korea, UK and the USA. The UK government has already announced it willlaunch an inquiry into the scandal.
VW has put aside a fund of €6.5bn (approximately £4.7bn) to cover the costs of dealing with the issue, and says it will adjust its financial targets for 2015 as a result. The matter came to light when the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) revealed that while testing 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel cars of the Volkswagen Group they detected electronic manipulations that violate American environmental standards.
The price of shares in the Volkswagen Group on the Frankfurt stock exchange fell sharply following the EPA’s announcement of its findings, and about 30 billion euros has been wiped off the value of the company. The share price dropped again on Wednesday morning as it emerged that other countries and regions are likely to check whether Volkswagen models conform to their own tests – although there were some signs of the stock value stabilising.
Volkswagen and Audi cars in the USA are fitted with a ‘defeat device’ that allows the vehicle to perform more efficiently in the official emissions test than in real-world driving conditions. The device is embedded in the software code that runs the ECU. It detects when the car is being tested and turns on full emissions controls, but the effectiveness of the device is reduced in normal conditions.
Reports have since surfaced that Volkswagen was warned about the legality of its software as far back as 2007.
According to the EPA, this means that the cars under investigation could be emitting up to 40 times the national standard for nitrogen oxide (NOx), which is linked to asthma and lung illnesses. The cars affected are 2009-2014 Jettas, Beetles, Golfs, Audi A3s, and VW Passats built from 2014-15.
The EPA says that the cars in question do not prove a safety hazard and are still legally okay to drive and sell on.
The issue will be investigated by the US Congress’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee.
“Strong emissions standards are in place for the benefit of public health,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy in a joint statement.
“Manufacturers throughout the United States, and across the world, have developed leading technologies to reduce airborne emissions within the limits set by EPA and state environmental agencies. However, reported EPA allegations that certain Volkswagen models contained software to defeat auto emissions tests raise serious questions,” they said.
“We will follow the facts. We are also concerned that auto consumers may have been deceived – that what they were purchasing did not come as advertised. The American people deserve answers and assurances that this will not happen again. We intend to get those answers.”
A date for the US Congress hearing has yet to be set.