By Elisabeth Behrmann and Jeff Plungis, Bloomberg News
WASHINGTON (Oct. 13, 2015) — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investigating a second emissions-control software program in Volkswagen A.G. cars that were rigged to pass pollution tests, one that the auto maker may have failed to properly disclose.
The computer program is on the EA 189 diesel engines used since 2009 that are also fitted with software that the auto maker has admitted was designed to fool emissions tests, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named because the information is private.
“VW did very recently provide EPA with very preliminary information on an auxiliary emissions control device that VW said was included in one or more model years,” EPA spokesman Nick Conger said. The agency, as well as its California counterpart, “are investigating the nature and purpose of this recently identified device.”
The possibility of a second device under scrutiny will make it harder for Volkswagen to emerge from the crisis. Already, VW faces criminal and civil liability as a company, including more than 250 class-action lawsuits. Some of its executives also may face individual charges, and investigators and prosecutors are trying to figure out just how widespread the cheating was.
The device was disclosed in applications to regulators for the 2.0 liter turbo diesel engine models to be sold next year, the company said Oct. 10 in an emailed statement from Wolfsburg, Germany. The EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are reviewing the device, which VW said serves to warm up the engine, and additional information is being submitted, according to the statement.
Auto makers are required to point out if engines have special operating modes that can affect the way pollution-control equipment works. Such programs aren't necessarily prohibited, and don't by themselves indicate an attempt to cheat, though car makers are supposed to disclose them so regulators can adjust their tests to be sure the vehicles still meet standards.
Volkswagen has withdrawn applications for EPA certification of diesel vehicles for the 2016 model year. The company decided the newly disclosed technology qualified as an emissions-control device that the EPA needed to review, Michael Horn, CEO of Volkswagen of America, told the U.S. Congress Oct. 8.