New Zealand petrol VW cars not likely to be affected
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Volkswagen under more pressure to resolve emissions testing issues
Volkswagen New Zealand says it is not aware of any of its petrol cars being caught up in the further scandal over the German carmaker cheating carbon dioxide emissions tests - but is keeping the market updated.
In September it came to light that Volkswagen had installed software on cars that enabled them to cheat emissions tests for nitrogen oxide so they showed lower readings. Up to 11 million Volkswagen vehicles worldwide have the software.
Early Wednesday morning the German company said it had found further unexplained inconsistencies in carbon dioxide emissions readings in some of its cars with the company later confirming at least 800,000 vehicles had excessive carbon dioxide emissions - 98,000 of which had petrol engines. Prior to this, the only cars affected were diesel. Volkswagen New Zealand general manager Tom Ruddenklau said he was hoping New Zealand cars would not be involved.
"At this stage it's looking like no petrol cars in New Zealand are affected but I am being cautious on that until we have it confirmed, which should hopefully be tomorrow," Ruddenklau said. "As far as I am aware at the moment though, New Zealand cars aren't part of the 800,000 that have the higher carbon dioxide emissions."
Ruddenklau said even if New Zealand petrol cars were affected, he wasn't expecting it to be a high number. Currently a total of 5,548 New Zealand diesel cars as well as other imports of around 150 were affected by the diesel emissions scandal out of 11 million worldwide. Cars affected by carbon dioxide being just 800,000, Ruddenklau said it would be a low New Zealand number, if any.
"I think [Volkswagen] are trying to be as open and straightforward as they can be now and so [the petrol] issue doesn't cause me a great deal of concern for our market which is good," Ruddenklau said.
"Volkswagen have sort of front footed this [petrol issue] before the media did so I think they are genuinely being rigorous in bringing everything to the surface, but understandably people will be upset and disappointed so even if we don't have cars affected here, we're going to have to learn from that as well," he said.
The affected cars were sold under the Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT and Skoda brands, most of them in Europe and none in the United States. Involved were 1.4-1.6- and 2.0-litre diesel engines and a 1.4-litre gasoline engine with fuel-saving cylinder deactivation technology.
The company said the carbon dioxide problem could cost it $3.3 billion, on top of 6.7 billion euros it had already set aside to cover the costs of recalls. Analysts say the total costs in fines and lost sales could be several times that.
The EU's executive commission told Volkswagen to speed up its investigation.
"Public trust is at stake here," spokeswoman Lucia Caudet told reporters on Wednesday. "We need all the facts on the table."
The Commission has enforcement powers to ensure that manufacturers respect their obligations in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, including the possibility of imposing fines.
Germany's transport minister indicated that VW will be on the hook for the costs of higher car taxes following the revelation that carbon dioxide emissions were understated.
Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt noted that Germany's car tax is calculated on the basis of engine size and carbon dioxide emissions, and so "if these vehicles emit more CO2, over and above the respective limit, that makes a new calculation necessary."
"I assume that a solution will be found that doesn't burden VW customers," Dobrindt said. "I think that VW clearly has a duty and a responsibility to ensure that, regarding these questions, customers face neither extra costs nor effort."
"Both the actions that led to these results and the results themselves are unacceptable," Dobrindt told lawmakers. "And so Volkswagen clearly bears the responsibility and the duty to remedy the damage that has resulted, particularly for customers."
"If they want to win back trust, they must first ensure that the damage is remedied and the customers don't get stuck with the problem," he said.