EU asks members to investigate after VW concedes further irregularities

Volkswagen said it underestimated CO2 emissions for 800,000 cars. [PROCHRISTOPHER DOMBRES/Flickr]

The European Commission has written to all 28 European Union member countries urging them to widen their investigations into breaches of vehicle emissions rules after Volkswagen admitted it had understated carbon dioxide levels.

Europe’s biggest motor manufacturer admitted in September it had rigged US diesel emissions tests to mask the level of emissions of health-harming nitrogen oxides.

In a deepening scandal, the German company said on Tuesday (3 November) it had also understated the fuel consumption – and so carbon dioxide emissions – of about 800,000 vehicles.

In a letter seen by Reuters, the Commission said it was not aware of any irregularities concerning carbon dioxide values and was seeking the support of EU governments “to find out how and why this could happen”.

It said it had already contacted Germany’s Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA), which is responsible for approving the conformity of new car types, and was raising the issue with other national authorities at a meeting late on Thursday in Brussels.

A Commission spokesperson confirmed the letter, adding it asked national governments “to widen their investigations to establish potential breaches of EU law”.

>>Read: Dieselgate: More EU countries join call for stricter emission tests

“Public trust is at stake. We need all the facts on the table and rigorous enforcement of existing legislation,” the spokesperson said.

With vehicle testing in the EU overseen by national authorities, the bloc’s executive body, the Commission, is reliant on each country to enforce the rules.

This arrangement has come under fire from environmentalists because on-road tests have consistently shown vehicles emitting more pollutants than laboratory tests.

Car manufacturers are a powerful lobby group in the EU, as a major source of jobs and exports.

The letter, dated 5 November and signed by Industry Commissioner El?bieta Bie?kowska and Climate and Energy Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete, asked for information by the end of this month about “any evidence or information concerning possible irregularities related to the certification of CO2 emissions values”.

“If relevant, how many of the vehicles that were newly registered in your country in the calendar years 2012, 2013 and 2014 were possibly affected,” the letter asked. 

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