GM’s Opel Refutes Emissions Allegations as German Review Begins

  • Spiegel magazine renews claims that Opel engines breach rules
  • Carmaker pledges to answer German government’s questions

General Motors Co.’s European Opel division said it has submitted documents to the German Transport Ministry to allay doubts over its engine technology and denied a magazine’s renewed allegations that it might use illegal motor software.

“We will continue the constructive dialogue with the authorities and will answer any questions they may still have,” Opel said Friday in an e-mailed statement. “We are convinced that our engines meet the legal requirements” for smog-causing nitrogen oxides and “that the allegations reflect a wrong understanding of how diesel engines work.” A ministry spokesman separately confirmed Friday in Berlin that Opel submitted the documents for review.

Emissions rules and engine-control software used by global automakers have come under intense scrutiny in the wake of Volkswagen AG’s admission last September that it installed software to cheat on pollution tests in as many as 11 million vehicles worldwide. Regulators in Europe, where rules for diesel cars are less strict than in the U.S., have stepped up investigations into whether software used by carmakers complies with the rules.

Spiegel renewed claims in a report published Friday that Opel’s engine software indicates behavior similar to Volkswagen’s tainted diesel cars, which were able to detect when their emissions were being tested and turn on full controls only then. The German newsweekly cited an analysis by computer specialist and hacker Felix Domke.

Opel reiterated that it views the allegations as unfounded. 

“We do not have any software that recognizes whether a vehicle is undergoing an exhaust emissions test,” the carmaker said in the statement, adding that reviews conducted in Germany, France and the U.K. already ruled out the possibility of its vehicles being able to detect when they’re being assessed.

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