VW’s UK boss has revealed that the company’s ‘defeat device’ was used in European emissions tests.
The manufacturer had only previously conceded that the illegal software was fitted on some European vehicles, and up to now had failed to confirm if it was active during the New European Driving Cycle tests.
But answering questions from the transport select committee yesterday, Paul Willis, pictured at top, admitted: ‘We mishandled the situation insofar as our engines behaved differently within the testing regime to the real world. That’s why we need to fix the cars, that’s why we need to get the customers in, and that’s why we need to put the cars right. We mishandled the situation, without a shadow of a doubt.’
He added: ‘It seems from what I understand – and I’m not an engineer – that the system of gas regulation influenced the NOx output in cars that we sell in the UK. These cars are type-approved across all of Europe, of course, and they’re type-approved in Germany, with separate people overlooking it.’
Willis added that approximately 1.2 million vehicles sold in Britain had been affected. Around 400,000 UK Volkswagens will need fuel injectors altering as well as a software fix, while vehicles equipped with the 1.6-litre diesel engine will need the overhaul.
The remaining vehicles, made up of around 700,000 2.0-litre diesels and 30,000 1.2-litre diesels, can be fixed by software alterations.
Despite this, the UK managing director poured doubt on whether a hardware change would be needed in the UK, saying: ‘The addition of urea tanks is not the solution in Europe. There’s a different configuration and different regulations.’
Willis also revealed that VW began selling UK vehicles fitted with emissions-cheating engines in 2008, and he apologised ‘sincerely and unreservedly’ for letting his customers down.
Asked if it was a high-level corporate decision to install the ‘defeat device’, Willis stated: ‘I have no idea. I would be guessing. I find it absolutely implausible that senior people would have known about these issues with regard to the testing regime.’
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