Winterkorn has led VW since 2007 and managed the carmaker’s staggering worldwide growth.
Pressure has been growing globally this week for on-road tests to be carried out on diesel engines, not only from Volkswagen but other manufacturers, to find out if the problem affects other markets and other brands. Volkswagen admitted to using so-called “defeat devices”, software algorithms that artificially lowered emissions output during testing, to bypass USA environmental regulations only after the EPA approached the company with West Virginia University’s findings.
Christopher Grundler, Director of EPA Office of Transportation & Air Quality, said the agency would partner with the official Environment Canada agency to more rigorously test diesel cars in the lab and on the road. Its testing procedures have been criticized for being predictable and outdated, making it relatively easy for VW to cheat.
The move comes as a result of Volkswagen’s admission that it manipulated diesel emission tests in the US.
The Environmental Protection Agency said it would test cars under actual driving conditions rather than just newly produced cars, after Volkswagen vehicles were shown to have software that overrides pollution controls once they are on the road.
In the past, the agency had focused on heavy diesel trucks for such tests due to their significant emissions and history of defeat devices, Grundler said.
Lost in all the invective being cast toward Volkswagen for its emissions-test cheating is the sad fact that the company was able to get away with it for six years without getting caught.
The EPA has warned that the new process will cause it to take longer for automakers to secure certification required to sell new vehicles in the U.S. The automaker eventually did a recall late past year, without much improvement, the EPA says.
Only when the EPA and the California Air Resources Board refused to approve VW’s 2016 diesel models for sale did the company admit earlier this month what it had done. The agency said the cars are safe to drive but VW will have to pay to recall and fix them. But when they were on the road, the cars pumped out almost 40 times the legal level of nitrogen oxide.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say that this would never have been uncovered”, he says.