Days after Volkswagen admitted that half a million cars it sold in the US contained software enabling them to evade clean air laws, top Environmental Protection Agency officials said they are planning to toughen emissions testing for all automakers.
Gina McCarthy, Environmental Protection Agency administrator, responded to a question Friday during a news conference on global climate change at Notre Dame university.
Mr Winterkorn, who had been CEO since 2007, said he took responsibility for the “irregularities” found by U.S. inspectors in VW’s diesel engines, but insisted he had personally done nothing wrong. The EPA says it may take VW a year to develop a fix.
Italy has also said it would open its own investigation into whether Volkswagen had cheated in diesel vehicle emissions tests in Europe as it did in the United States.
The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA), which represents companies including Volkswagen, BMW, Peugeot Citroen, Renault and Volvo, said it hoped the real-world testing conditions could be “finalised urgently”.
The head of EPA’s Transportation and Air Quality office, Chris Grundler, said “we are upping our game”, in response to their discovery of “defeat devices” in Volkswagen and Audi four-cylinder diesel models since 2009.
VW was able to fool the EPA because the agency only tested the cars on treadmill-like devices called dynamometers and didn’t use portable test equipment on real roads.
Since the 2009 model year, Volkswagen has apparently sold “clean diesel” cars that are anything but.
With the pollution controls on, the cars are less efficient and won’t accelerate as fast, the two main reasons why people bought the VW diesels, said Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor and a diesel expert for Kelley Blue Book.
California air regulators had a hand in uncovering Volkswagen’s fraud.
More extensive road testing is also on the way, he said.
During the test, the cars meet the standard; under normal driving conditions, emissions are up to 40 times higher.
The EPA said Friday it will test emissions at every automaker to make sure no other company is trying to dodge pollution regulations like Volkswagen did.
“We are a bit jittery right now because we don’t know if they are going to find out something about our brand”, he said, requesting not to be named.
Volkswagen Group Singapore declined to comment when contacted and referred to its global statement issued instead.
Only when the EPA and CARB refused to approve VW’s 2016 diesel models for sale did the company admit what it had done.
The EPA has up to now only tested cars on treadmill-like devices called dynamometers.
Grundler told reporters Friday that the agency will test light-duty vehicles – both diesel and gasoline – that already are on the road. Government emissions inspectors rely on automakers to equip their cars with computers that make everyday auto inspections quick and easy, saving the government money and drivers time. “Do I wish we had uncovered it sooner?” Earlier this year the agency updated gas mileage tests after a few automakers were caught with inflated window sticker estimates.