Johannesburg - The Departments of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and Transport claim to be in the dark about their involvement in the South African arm of an investigation over the Volkswagen emissions-rigging scandal.
On Wednesday, the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NCRS) announced that it was working with the two departments to probe whether VW SA was also manipulating pollution data in its local range of eco-friendly models.
“It’s the first we hear that we’re involved,” quipped Albi Modise, the spokesman for the DEA. “Vehicle emissions are not part of our scope at this stage – and we’re not in any way responsible for investigating this matter.”
Ishmael Mnisi, the spokes-man for the transport ministry, told the Saturday Star: “We don’t know anything about this and we’re actually writing a letter to them (NCRS).”
The US Environmental Protection Agency revealed last week that VW had used software that deceived regulators measuring toxic emissions.
Globally, the disgraced company faces massive penalties running into billions of dollars.
Temba Kaula, acting general manager for automotives at the NCRS, said: “As much as we’re a lone entity, we’re mandated by the Transport Department and the Department of Trade and Industry, and we will have some dealings with the Transport Department over this matter.
“Emissions are part of the environment so definitely some of the stats and the issues we’re dealing with, the DEA cannot be left out of this … we’ve already made leeway and communicated with VW SA.
“We don’t want to go on a wild goose chase. We need to know where to start, which vehicles are similar to those in the US where the engine system could be similar. This whole thing is a shock. .”
VW SA spokesman Matt Genrich did not want to comment on Friday.
Richard Worthington, an independent climate change energy expert, remarked that VW’s building of such a “systematic cheat” into the regulation system was “totally unprecedented”.
A fuel expert, who could not be named, added: “If the result of this is that diesel cars become less popular, there will be significant longer-term effects on the oil-refining industry.
“I imagine they’re unhappy having to invest a lot of money to make cleaner fuels.”
He added: “In Europe, they will pull you over if you’re polluting, and tell you your car will be de-licensed. In South Africa, I fear that we’ve got much bigger problems.”