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Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal: what does it all mean?

Volkswagen has admitted to cheating the USA’s emissions tests for some of its diesel cars. Here’s what you need to know


Although it all started in the USA, Volkswagen’s emissions scandal has very quickly escalated into an international matter. So far, the problems seem to be connected to the way that emissions tests are conducted in the USA, however automotive bodies from around the world have opened their own investigations, and emissions manipulation in Europe has been announced just this morning.

Chief executive of the Volkswagen Group Martin Winterkorn has stood down from his position, saying that although he was personally unaware of any wrongdoing, he took full responsibility for the company’s deception.

Currently VW says that around 11million vehicles could be affected worldwide, all fitted with the 2-litre EA189 diesel engine.

Volkswagen has admitted to the use of a ‘defeat device’, which allows cars running the through USA’s emissions test to utilise a more eco-friendly engine map. This means that the cars out in the wild do not conform to the standards of the test, as they are then allowed to run a less clean state of tune.

If you’re thinking that this has anything to do with the ongoing industry calls for more representative ‘official’ fuel economy and CO2 figures then you would be mistaken. The real problem that the EPA, the USA’s environmental protection agency, has strict guidelines for NOx emissions, and the cars in question are said to produce up to 40 times the legal amount during regular driving.

Diesels are known for producing this particularly nasty type of pollution, linked to respiratory illnesses, in considerably larger quantities than equivalent petrol engines.

The company has set aside €6.6billion to cover the cost of recalls and fixes, and the company is facing huge fines, in the billions of dollars too. As if this wasn’t enough, the company has seen around €25billion knocked off is share value.

Although VW has been dishonest in the use of its defeat device, it has vowed to remain completely transparent throughout the investigations. The US emissions test is significantly different to tests in the EU, and it has yet to be established how other regions are affected.

Want to know more? Keep up to date with the latest developments over on evo.co.uk

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