Washington — The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Detroit is helping to lead the investigation into Volkswagen of America’s admission it cheated to evade emissions requirements in nearly 500,000 cars built since 2008.
The office — led by Detroit U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade — is part of the massive federal investigation that is also being led by the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, The Detroit News confirmed Thursday. Federal prosecutors and FBI agents in California — where VW has pollution testing labs — are also involved, The News has learned.
A spokeswoman for McQuade, Gina Balaya, said Thursday “we aren’t commenting about the VW investigation.” McQuade also declined to comment on VW last month.
The News has previously reported that the Detroit office of the FBI is leading the investigative team into the cheating scandal that impacts 11 million VW vehicles worldwide. The Environmental Protection Agency’s testing labs are in Ann Arbor, VW has offices in Auburn Hills.
VW on Thursday said it was recalling 8.5 million vehicles in Europe, but it hasn’t notified regulators what the fix is. The News learned that VW could submit a proposed software fix to the EPA as soon as this week for the newest vehicles impacted by the emissions cheating. The EPA and California Air Resources Board have refused to certify the 2016 diesel VW cars with 2.0 liter engines. VW has also issued a stop sale on remaining 2015 diesel cars in showrooms.
VW withdrew its application for 2016 certification after it disclosed it hadn’t told EPA that the vehicles have auxiliary emissions control devices that should have been disclosed at the time of its application. The devices may also be on some vehicles currently on the road, EPA has said.
The Justice Department has committed a significant number of investigators to the probe.
German prosecutors are also investigating and have raided VW offices. Regulators and other agencies around the world are also investigating.
VW has set aside $7.3 billion to cover costs, saw its CEO step down and suspended three top managers as a U.S. law firm, Jones Day, conducts an internal investigation. This week, Winfried Vahland, the VW executive that was tapped to take a new position overseeing VW in North America starting Nov. 1 abruptly resigned before he started the new job. It’s not clear who will replace him.
Last week, VW U.S. chief Michael Horn testified before Congress and said it could be late next year before a fix is ready for all three generations of VW diesel engines. He acknowledged that the oldest vehicles would require software and mechanical repair, which he agreed was a “major fix.”