Last Sunday, the company’s then CEO, Martin Winterkorn, issued a brief statement declaring that the Board of Management at Volkswagen AG “takes these findings very seriously.” The findings revealed that the automaker used “defeat devices” to fool emissions testing, effectively concealing the reality that certain cars spew emissions some 10 to 40 times the legal limit.
Approximately 482,000 US cars are equipped with the affected engines and will be recalled. The remaining models sitting on new car dealer lots remain under a stop-sale order.
Within a few days of the initial response in which the now terminated Winterkorn added, “We do not and will not tolerate violations of any kind of our internal rules or of the law,” it was revealed that the extent of Volkswagen’s emissions manipulation had been known for at least two years, perhaps much longer.
Indeed, that knowledge was confirmed when a small research staff at West Virginia University completed a report in May 2013, then shared those findings in a public forum. Volkswagen representatives were on hand and even questioned Daniel Carder, the university’s engineer who led the study. Carder serves as Interim Director of CAFEE — the Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions, at the university.
The CAFEE study, commissioned and paid for by the nonprofit International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT), was shared with and substantiated by the EPA and CARB.
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... what has yet to be revealed is whether he shared the emissions findings with senior management in Germany, including the now-deposed Winterkorn.
This story, like so many other far-reaching scandals has had its shares of twists and turns.
As far back as 2011, the non-governmental environmental organization Greenpeace initiated its own crusade against Volkswagen. That campaign included releasing an anti-Volkswagen video with a Star Wars theme whereby the organization alleged that “VW is threatening our planet by opposing cuts to CO2 emissions.” The video concluded by inviting viewers to “join the rebellion.”
If there is a darker side to the Volkswagen scandal, you can be certain that it will eventually be exposed. However, some questions remain unanswered, including whether Wolfsburg was kept in the dark as well as why it took the EPA so long to address the matter.
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