From the preliminary results of an internal investigation, Volkswagen has confirmed that up to 11 million of the group's diesel-powered vehicles worldwide have been fitted with software that enables it to cheat its way past official emissions testing.
The company says that, so far, in internal testing carried out since the scandal broke in the US, Volkswagen group cars fitted with Type EA189 diesel engines have shown a "noticeable deviation between bench test results and actual road use".
According to Volkswagen, the discrepancy in reported and actual emissions have been "established solely for this type of engine" and that "for the majority of these engines the software does not have any effect". Regardless, the "software in question does not affect handling, consumption or emissions".
The company has stated emphatically that "new vehicles from the Volkswagen Group with EU6 diesel engines currently available in the European Union comply with legal requirements and environmental standards".
At this stage, the company believes that up to 11 million vehicles have the cheat software installed. It's believed that this defeat device reports false numbers via its OBD-II port when it believes that it is being subject to official emissions testing.
According to Sam Abuelsamid, a former editor of Autoblog Green, emissions testers in California and elsewhere usually don't directly measure emissions from the tailpipe. Instead, after confirming visually that there's been physical tampering with the vehicle, they plug a scanner into the car’s OBD-II port to read the car’s internal codes.
The company has set aside to 6.5 billion euros ($10.2 billion) "to cover the necessary service measures and other efforts to win back the trust of our customers". As internal and external investigations are continuing, Volkswagen says that "the amounts estimated may be subject to revaluation".
Over the weekend, an official from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that Volkswagen could be liable for fines of up to US$37,500 ($53,000) for each of the 482,000 affected vehicles in the US. In the unlikely event that such a heavy punishment is meted out by the US government, that would see Volkswagen's liabilities in the US amount to US$18 billion ($25.4 billion) before remediation work.
On the back of this latest news, Volkswagen's share price dropped another 13 percent to about 109 euros ($172). The company's market value has fallen by 33 percent since it admitted to cheating emissions results in the US, erasing around 25.5 billion euros ($40.2 billion) from its valuation.