Tue, Jun 26, 2018 - Page 14 News List

Diesel scandal rumbles on for embattled Volkswagen
柴油醜聞持續延燒 福斯汽車處境艱難

Chief executive of Audi Rupert Stadler is pictured at a news conference in Ingolstadt, Bavaria, Germany, on May 9.

Photo: EPA

Rupert Stadler, chief executive of German carmaker Audi, was arrested by prosecutors in Munich, Germany last week, in the latest chapter in a long-running diesel emissions scandal that has come to be known as “Dieselgate.”

The scandal dates back to September 2015 and concerns the world’s largest automaker, Audi’s parent company Volkswagen (VW). It is the biggest and most costly scandal in the history of German industry.

“Dieselgate” centers around so-called “defeat devices” detected by the US Environmental Protection Agency in VW cars exported to the US.

A defeat device is actually a piece of software installed on a car’s computer management system, designed to circumvent emissions testing by regulators. The software works by reducing the power and performance of the car when it detects the vehicle is on a stationary test rig in typical laboratory conditions.

This meant that, unbeknownst to regulators, VW cars were actually emitting far more harmful nitrogen-oxide pollutants in real-world driving conditions than measured during testing — and at levels far in excess of US and EU emissions standards.

Nitrogen oxides can penetrate sensitive lung tissue and have been linked to respiratory diseases such as bronchitis. They are also a contributing factor of smog and acid rain.

The defeat devices came to the attention of the agency after the International Council on Clean Transport (ICCT) commissioned researchers at West Virginia University to conduct a study of diesel car emissions. Researchers initially conducted tests seeking to prove diesel cars were cleaner than their gasoline counterparts, but were shocked to find emissions from two VW vehicles they tested were between 8-40 times the levels measured during environmental regulators’ laboratory tests.

VW eventually admitted it had installed defeat devices on nearly 600,000 vehicles sold in the US from 2009 through 2015 and about 11 million cars worldwide. The automaker was forced to buy back hundreds of thousands of “dirty” diesel cars from US customers at an estimated cost of US$10 billion.

In January last year, VW pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the US government and obstructing a federal investigation and agreed to pay more than US$3 billion in fines. Earlier this month VW agreed to pay a fine of 1 billion euros, imposed by German prosecutors. A total of 50 countries including the UK, Italy, France, South Korea and Canada have opened separate investigations into the company, which has set aside a US$30 billon war chest to cover the fall out from the crisis.

VW subsidiary Audi became embroiled in the scandal last month after it admitted a further 60,000 of its cars have emissions software “problems” bringing the total number of recalled Audi cars to more than 900,000. Munich prosecutors say they arrested Stadler out of concern he might seek to suppress evidence. Two and a half years after the original story broke, it appears there is still plenty of road left to run on a scandal which has shaken German industry to the core.

(Edward Jones,Taipei Times)





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