After admitting in September that 11 million diesel-powered vehicles worldwide are fitted with defeat devices meant to lower nitrogen oxides tailpipe emissions, Volkswagen came up with a new disclosure that can add more woes to its yet unresolved scandal.
Volkswagen said that the error now goes beyond what it has previously disclosed and estimated that around 800,000 more cars could also be affected. If this is true, it would mean an added cost of $2 billion for the German auto maker to handle.
The company said that it "will immediately start a dialogue with the responsible type approval agencies regarding the consequences of these findings. This should lead to a reliable assessment of the legal, and the subsequent economic consequences of this not yet fully explained issue."
The newly disclosed information came a day following new allegations made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). According to the department, defeat devices are found on 3.0-liter diesel engines that are used in bigger SUVs and high-end vehicles from Volkswagen that reach around 10,000 in number. These include Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q5, Audi Q7, Audi A6, Audi A8 and Touareg. The vehicles allegedly emit up to nine times the legally allowable levels of nitrogen-oxide which Volkswagen consequently denied to be true.
"The allegations are all the more serious given that VW's new CEO Matthias Müller came from Porsche and any hint of further deception could well see his position come under scrutiny," said Michael Hewson, a chief market analyst at brokerage company CMC Markets.
"VW is leaving us speechless," said Arndt Ellinghorst, an automotive analyst at research firm Evercore ISI.
It was the first time that an allegation was made against Porsche, the sports-car model by Volkswagen which is also one of its big money makers. Since it was previously run by Müller, the latest news had somehow created questions on the extent of his knowledge about Porsche's engines.
Bipartisan leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee had reportedly sought additional documents in the wake of the new EPA findings from Michael Horn, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America and had set the date Nov. 16 as the deadline.
"In light of yesterday's news, we ask that Volkswagen provide some basic facts and clarifications regarding the software installed in certain make and model year vehicles and how such devices affect the operation of the vehicles," wrote the committee. Likewise, it also sought a "detailed description of any software that served effectively to defeat emissions controls functions, including but not limited to what components of the engine it affects and how, for each of the make and model year vehicles."