German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt has claimed that Berlin bears no responsibility for Dieselgate, telling a European Parliament committee that “Volkswagen cheated, so Volkswagen is responsible.” EurActiv Germany reports.
The CSU politician insisted that the German government has been comprehensive in its response to the emissions test scandal, indicating that neither Berlin nor its Transport Authority (KBA) ever suspected VW of manipulating its emissions tests.
Due to a lack of legal requirement, tests that could have detected the device were not carried out. “You have to know what you’re looking for,” said Dobrindt.
Former European Commissioner Günter Verheugen has claimed that there was no evidence of emissions test manipulation up to 2010, as he moved to defend himself against accusations of collusion with the car industry. EurActiv Germany reports.
Some MEPs reacted with incredulity to this attitude. They warned that there were indications long before September 2015 that VW cars were producing emissions above the legal limit in real world situations, going back to 2007.
The transport minister used his appearance at the Parliament to renew his call for European rules on legal cheat devices to be tightened. There is a loophole that allows such measures to be used by carmakers to protect the engine. He urged the EU to address the issue by looking closely at the 2007 regulation governing emissions.
Dobrindt failed to find any support for this from the MEPs questioning him at the hearing. One MEP even told the transport minister that the German government had agreed to the legislation when it was first tabled a decade ago. Dobrindt took office in 2013.
Germany’s Transport Ministry has asked the European Commission to investigate exhaust emissions of Fiat Chrysler vehicles for potential illegal manipulation devices, German government documents showed on Thursday (1 September).
After the session, Green MEP Rebecca Harms said that “Minister Dobrindt is trying to avoid responsibility. The German authorities allowed emission limits to be exceeded for years. Dobrindt was accused of trying to justify the country’s inaction by taking aim at rules at a European level. “His authorities were involved in the European legislative process,” she added.
The VW scandal came to light after American authorities detected abnormal nitrogen oxide emissions from the German carmaker’s engines in real world scenarios, when compared with the levels they supposedly produced in the lab.