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Volkswagen Cheating Scandal Expands to 11 Million Diesels Worldwide

CEO Winterkorn may be replaced, U.S. Congress to hold hearing.

Volkswagen now says that a total of 11 million diesel cars worldwide have the “cheating” device that was used to evade emissions-controls laws in the U.S. The automaker said that there is “a noticeable deviation” between dyno-test and real-world emissions performance on the EA 189 diesel engine family, and that up to 11 million Volkswagen Group cars sold worldwide have software that could cause this effect. The software runs in a special mode that reduces pollutants when the car detects it is undergoing official emissions testing, then reverts to a more-polluting mode in real-world driving.

While Volkswagen says that in many of the 11 million vehicles, “the software does not have any effect,” the automaker is nevertheless setting aside €6.5 billion (about $7.3 billion) to pay for “necessary service measures.” That will likely involve recalling the affected cars and modifying their emissions-control systems to meet U.S. and international laws.

In the U.S., Volkswagen admitted that 482,000 cars with its 2.0-liter turbodiesel engine violate EPA emissions rules. The cars go into a super-efficient test mode during EPA testing, but in normal driving can emit up to 40 times the levels of pollutants and particulates allowed by federal law. Volkswagen has since issued a stop-sale on those diesel models in the U.S.

Rumored executive reshuffling

As the Volkswagen diesel cheating scandal widens, several reports from Germany suggest that CEO Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn will be replaced, although Volkswagen has yet to confirm the reports. Over the weekend, Winterkorn said in a statement that, “I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public. We will cooperate fully with the responsible agencies, with transparency and urgency.”

Congressional hearing planned

The U.S. Congress will also hold a hearing over Volkswagen’s diesel cheating scandal. Congressmen Fred Upton (R-MI) and Tim Murphy (R-PA) plan for the House Oversight and Investigations subcommittee to hold a hearing into the Volkswagen affair.

“Reported EPA allegations that certain Volkswagen models contained software to defeat auto emissions tests raise serious questions,” the congressmen said in a statement. “We are also concerned that auto consumers may have been deceived — that what they were purchasing did not come as advertised.”