The misery is still piling up for Volkswagen, after it admitted the emissions scandal has now ensnared petrol cars and spread from nitrous oxide to carbon dioxide.
The German carmaker said in a statement last night it had found ‘irregularities’ related to carbon dioxide emissions in 800,000 cars. They’re ‘mostly diesels’, it told the FT, but petrol cars have been dragged into the mire for the first time too.
The initial scandal was over VW installing software that cheated nitrous oxide emissions tests into as many as 11 million diesel vehicles. Although details are scant on this latest saga, VW said it understated CO2 emissions and thus fuel consumption – an important financial consideration for people buying cars – ‘during the CO2 certification process.’
While the diesel vehicles were mainly larger-engined cars, this reportedly involves cars with smaller, 1.4 litre engines, such as the VW Polo and Golf and the Audi A1 and A3.
VW, which also owns Porsche, Seat and Skoda, has said this latest debacle will cost it €2bn (£1.4bn), but some analysts think that’s a drastic underestimate. ‘Given that provisions per vehicle are 4.1 times higher versus the NOx issue, the magnitude could be much bigger in scale,’ Credit Suiss analysts said.
At least it found this latest problem itself, rather than being rapped on the wrist (again) by the EPA. Even so, it was no wonder that VW’s shares fell as much as 10% this morning. They’re currently trading around €101.50, an 8.6% drop, and have lost almost 40% of their value since the scandal broke in September.
New chief executive (and former Porsche boss) Matthias Mueller took a suitably hard line: ‘We will stop at nothing and nobody. This is a painful process, but it is our only alternative. For us, the only thing that counts is the truth. That is the basis for the fundamental realignment that Volkswagen needs.’
But in the short to medium term it’s hard to see where this ends for VW – unless of course it continues to spread and infects the whole diesel and petrol car industry. In which case Tesla boss Elon Musk will be sitting very pretty indeed.