Washington — Volkswagen AG said Tuesday it overstated fuel efficiency in 800,000 vehicles, which could cost the automaker another $2.2 billion. The announcement adds to the problems of a company already reeling from a scandal over cheating on diesel emissions testing.
Most of the vehicles in the latest fuel-efficiency disclosure are diesel, but not all. VW said carbon dioxide levels “and thus the fuel consumption figures for some models were set too low during the CO2 certification process. The majority of the vehicles concerned have diesel engines.”
VW said it will do everything in its power to rectify the problem.
“The safety of the vehicles is in no way compromised. A reliable assessment of the scale of these irregularities is not yet possible,” it said.
The automaker said it “will immediately start a dialogue with the responsible type approval agencies regarding the consequences of these findings. This should lead to a reliable assessment of the legal, and the subsequent economic consequences of this not yet fully explained issue.”
Matthias Müller, CEO of Volkswagen, said, “From the very start I have pushed hard for the relentless and comprehensive clarification of events. We will stop at nothing and nobody. This is a painful process, but it is our only alternative. For us, the only thing that counts is the truth. That is the basis for the fundamental realignment that Volkswagen needs.”
VW has previously set aside $7.3 billion to address its admission in September that it illegally installed “defeat devices” in 11 million cars worldwide with 2-liter diesel engines that allow them to emit up to 40 times legally allowable pollution. That includes 482,000 diesel cars sold in the U.S. since 2008.
On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency said another 10,000 SUVs and high-end cars from VW, Porsche and Audi with 3-liter diesel engines have illegal software that allow those vehicles to emit up to nine times legally allowable levels. VW denies the allegation.
VW could be responsible for at least another $375 million in fines for the additional vehicles, up from $18 billion the EPA said it faced in September. The illegal software may be on thousands of other vehicles with VW diesel engines dating back to 2009; testing by the EPA, California and Canada is ongoing.
The scandal that began in September has led to the resignation of the German automaker’s CEO and to criminal investigations around the world. Last week the automaker reported its first quarterly loss in at least 15 years.
The Justice Department and federal prosecutors in Detroit are leading a criminal investigation into VW’s admitted cheating. The automaker faces more than 350 lawsuits around the country.
There is still no timetable for when VW will begin recalling vehicles in the U.S. and fixing them.
Separately, the bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday wrote Volkswagen Group of America President and CEO Michael Horn seeking additional documents on VW’s emissions cheating scandal in the wake of EPA’s findings that the cheating extended to Audi, Porsche and VW SUVs and other larger cars by Nov. 16.
“In light of yesterday’s news, we ask that Volkswagen provide some basic facts and clarifications regarding the software installed in certain make and model year vehicles and how such devices affect the operation of the vehicles,” the company wrote, seeking a “detailed description of any software that served effectively to defeat emissions controls functions, including but not limited to what components of the engine it affects and how, for each of the make and model year vehicles.”
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