German Investigators Meet With VW Over Deepening Scandal

VW’s Diesel Dupe Now Spreads Far and Wide
  • VW to provide investigative group with documentation on probe
  • Government officials vow to get to bottom of unfolding crisis

A German Transport Ministry investigative committee was scheduled to meet Wednesday with Volkswagen AG managers over the latest revelations in the deepening scandal over the automaker’s cheating on emissions testing.

VW will provide the committee with documentation and “there will be a discussion of the measures that need to be taken,” Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt told reporters in Berlin. “There needs to be a high degree of transparency achieved and there must not be any new liabilities created for the customers.”

The Transport Ministry’s contacts with VW have soured recently as the crisis ballooned, a government official familiar with the matter said. Dobrindt said he learned of the latest developments from VW on Tuesday.

Volkswagen said then that an internal probe showed 800,000 cars had “unexplained inconsistencies” in their carbon-dioxide output, a key measure of fuel efficiency and the basis for taxation and emissions regulation in Europe. It’s unclear how much overlap there is between those vehicles and the 11 million the company had earlier said would need to be recalled. VW estimated the new finding means it will need to add at least 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion) to the 6.7 billion euros already set aside to repair dirty diesels.

Dobrindt told lower-house lawmakers later on Wednesday that 98,000 of the 800,000 affected vehicles are gasoline-powered, citing his talks with VW. The carmaker has to compensate its customers, including for the higher vehicle tax they have to pay as a result of the higher emissions.

The German government is convinced that “these allegations have to be taken seriously and that VW has the duty to clarify the situation in a transparent and comprehensive manner,” Steffen Seibert, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief spokesman, said at the German government’s regular press conference. “VW has committed to do so. It is very important that this clarification is made by the group itself in a transparent and thorough way.”

German government officials have tried to walk a fine line between vowing to make sure VW gets to the bottom of the scandal and not unnecessarily harm the Wolfsburg-based automaker, which is one of the country’s largest private employers.

“I can only welcome the fact that Volkswagen has disclosed the problems that have appeared in the gasoline range and is now looking for possible solutions together with the Federal Motor Vehicle Office,” said Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who previously ran the state where VW is based. “I think it is proof that Volkswagen is serious.”

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