VW details brands affected by scandal; fix due in Oct

AP News
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Posted: Sep 29, 2015 5:09 PM
VW details brands affected by scandal; fix due in Oct

BERLIN (AP) — Volkswagen's commercial vehicles and cars from its Spanish unit SEAT are among the 11 million fitted with a diesel engine that can cheat on emissions tests, the company said Tuesday.

Volkswagen AG has admitted using a piece of engine software to cheat on diesel car emissions tests in the U.S., where authorities say there are 482,000 such cars. The company says that up to 11 million vehicles worldwide were fitted with the engine in question.

The company said it would present authorities with its "technical solutions and measures" to fix the problem in October. Not all of the 11 million vehicles, however, would have had the software activated, according to new CEO Matthias Mueller.

Details have emerged gradually of how many were made by which VW division. Guenther Scherelis, a spokesman for the commercial vehicles unit — which makes vans and pickups — on Tuesday confirmed that 1.8 million of its vehicles were affected. He didn't give further details.

Spanish subsidiary SEAT said it fitted 700,000 vehicles with the EA 189 diesel engines in which Volkswagen has said there are "discrepancies."

SEAT said the cars were sold worldwide and it was seeking to determine how many were sold in each market.

Also fitted with the suspect software were 5 million VW brand cars, 2.1 million Audis and 1.2 million Skodas.

SEAT and Volkswagen-Audi Spain on Tuesday ordered a suspension of sales of all SEAT, Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda and Volkswagen commercial vehicles with the EA 189 diesel engine. It said this decision would affect 3,320 vehicles currently in stock.

Volkswagen in Sweden said 224,746 vehicles of those brands that had been sold in the Nordic country were affected.

In a speech to VW managers Monday evening, newly appointed CEO Mueller said that the offending software was activated only in part of the cars fitted with the engine, so "we expect that the number of vehicles actually affected will be smaller," according to extracts released by the company.

He said customers will be informed in the coming days that their vehicles need work and authorities will be presented with "technical solutions" in October.

Mueller said that, alongside the company's internal probe, Volkswagen's supervisory board has commissioned an external investigation by U.S. law firm Jones Day, and "that will start very quickly."

"A long road and a lot of hard work lie ahead of us," he said.

Volkswagen on Tuesday made another managerial change, putting longtime engineer and executive Winfried Vahland in charge of a newly created North American Region starting Nov. 1.

Vahland will oversee operations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico that are now separate, and he'll have a seat on the VW brand's management board.

The German government last week set up a commission of inquiry on the scandal. Transport Ministry spokesman Martin Susteck said that the panel is in contact with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In Brussels, European Union Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska met Tuesday with Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess.

Ahead of the meeting, Diess said only VWs with 1.6-liter and 2-liter engines are concerned, and for the latter "we are quite sure we can fix the problem with software."

He said he would explain to EU authorities what his company is doing to fix its engines and plan "a way forward."

An EU representative said the meeting was not about fixing blame "but to establish the facts — how many vehicles have been affected, since when and in which countries."

"Both participants agreed that restoring confidence in the European car industry is of upmost importance," said the representative, who was not authorized to make public statements and spoke to journalists on condition of anonymity. The person said Bienkowska stressed to the Volkswagen executive "the importance to fully cooperate with national authorities."