VW: 11m cars have emission cheating devices
GERMAN auto giant Volkswagen revealed yesterday that 11 million of its diesel cars worldwide are equipped with devices that can cheat pollution tests.
This is a dramatic escalation of the scandal that has wiped a third off the company's market value and now threatens to topple its chief executive.
The authorities from France to South Korea to the United States announced investigations and threatened legal action, prompting Volkswagen to say that it was setting aside 6.5 billion euros (S$10.3 billion) in provisions for the third quarter to cover the potential costs of the scandal.
In Singapore, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said that based on the information available so far, it "understands that the cases reported in the US pertain to Volkswagen diesel models that are not sold in Singapore".
"However, NEA will investigate and will take appropriate action against any cases of fraudulent emissions claims," a spokesman said.
The NEA spokesman said new vehicles which do not comply with stipulated emissions standards cannot be registered for use on public roads here.
Vehicles that are in use which fail emissions requirements during mandatory periodic inspection are not allowed to renew their road tax and cannot be driven on Singapore roads.
The automaker's new revelations, including a warning that it will have to lower its profit outlook, sent investors fleeing. Volkswagen shares fell 37 per cent over Monday and in early trade yesterday, causing the firm to lose 24 billion euros in market value, according to Bloomberg.
When the manipulation of pollution tests was first publicly revealed on Friday, the US authorities said it concerned nearly half a million diesel vehicles in the US manufactured by the Volkswagen group.
The carmaker later said 11 million cars globally had devices that could cheat pollution tests.
The scandal has led to France calling for a Europe-wide probe into the revelations, South Korea summoning Volkswagen officials, and the US Justice Department reportedly launching a criminal investigation.
The impact on the reputation of Volkswagen and other car makers is hard to measure.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Volkswagen to show "full transparency" to clear up the matter. "I hope the facts will come to light as soon as possible," she told reporters in Berlin.
Industry experts say Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn's job is on the line.
The regional daily Tagesspiegel said his dismissal had already been decided by the steering committee of the carmaker's supervisory board and would be officially sealed at a meeting of the full 20-member board this Friday. But the carmaker denied the report.
US regulators have ordered Volkswagen to fix the defective vehicles and launched an investigation. The carmaker could face penalties of up to US$18 billion (S$25.5 billion) for cheating US emissions tests
In Germany, the government has already launched an investigation into whether Volkswagen or other car makers are doing anything similar in Germany or Europe.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS