A Volkswagen car is pictured during a test at a technical and testing centre in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, September 23, 2015. Volkswagen Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn faces a reckoning with his board on Wednesday, summoned to explain the falsification of U.S. emissions tests in the biggest scandal in the 78-year history of the world's largest carmaker. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Friday Volkswagen could face penalties of up to $18 billion for cheating emissions tests on some of its diesel cars. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Durban - Volkswagen in South Africa is to be investigated by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications, and the departments of environmental affairs and transport as the emissions scandal continues to affect the company’s global operation.

In South Africa the NRCS has not ruled out a recall of affected vehicles.

The regulator said: “With regard to the latest allegations of rigging of emissions tests made by the US Environment Protection Agency against VW cars in the US and Europe, NRCS will launch an investigation - working together with departments of environmental affairs and transport - to determine whether the South African vehicles are also affected.”

The NRCS said it would do a comparative study on models implicated against vehicles approved in South Africa to determine whether there had been any manipulation of pollution data.

“This will be followed by sampling and testing of emissions requirements against the relevant South African standard,”the NRCS said. “If vehicles are found to be non-compliant, the NRCS will apply a sanctioning process, which will lead to recall of the relevant vehicles for correction.”

The regulator said it used a homologation process to ensure all vehicles complied with emissions standards before being sold locally. This involved an analysis of a sample vehicle against test reports provided by the manufacturer.

“NRCS can confirm that all VW cars have gone through the homologation process and complied.”

Already Volkswagen’s German head office has estimated 11 million vehicles, with type EA 189 engines, are affected globally.

SA CUSTOMERS IN THE DARK

Volkswagen SA has kept customers in the dark over whether they could be driving vehicles that are not the eco-friendly models they may have paid a premium for as the world’s largest vehicle manufacturer spins from the impact of a pollution test rigging scandal.

Volkswagen SA this week declined to respond to questions after 482 000 vehicles were recalled in the US where the company faces a maximum fine of $18 billion (R250 million) and a US Justice Department probe, with further investigations announced in Germany, France and South Korea.

Volkswagen has set aside €6.5 billion (R101 billion) to deal with the potential costs of what VW chief executive Martin Winterkorn labelled a “grave crisis”. He resigned on Wednesday after it emerged the company had, since 2009, cheated on emissions tests in the United States.

The US Environmental Protection Agency announced last Friday that Volkswagen had admitted installing a sophisticated software algorithm in its vehicles to recognise when a car was being tested for emissions by monitoring barometric pressure, engine use and steering. The software would then automatically reduce Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions to levels below the legal limit to pass the test and then switch back to regular emissions of up to 40 times the limit.

INDEPENDENT ANALYSIS

The EPA and the California Air Resources Board uncovered the software after independent analysis by West Virginia University researchers, who had been working with the International Council on Clean Transportation, raised questions about emissions levels.

“I am shocked by the events of the past few days,” Winterkorn said during his announcement. “Above all I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group.”

“I accept responsibility for the irregularities that have been found in diesel engines; I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part,” he said.

Winterkorn said the company’s process of “clarification and transparency” with authorities must continue to win back trust and that he was convinced the team would overcome the crisis.

VW SA spokesman Matt Genrich directed questions to the head office in Germany which did not answer questions about the impact on South Africa, but responded by saying the company was “working at full speed to clarify the irregularities concerning a particular software used in diesel engines”.

The Mercury

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