Industry News | German chancellor Angela Merkel to be questioned on knowledge of Volkswagen emissions scandal

German chancellor Angela Merkel to be questioned on knowledge of Volkswagen emissions scandal

The inquiry committee has set out to discover if the protective stance that Angela Merkel has taken in regards to German automakers in the past...

German chancellor Angela Merkel is set to be questioned about her knowledge of the Volkswagen emissions scandal, which broke in September 2015. Volkswagen, who are Europe’s largest car manufacturers, were discovered to have been cheating in vehicle emissions tests. In what is now known as “dieselgate”; the German automakers installed software in their vehicles that would detect when their cars were being tested and would lower the emissions output.


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The irregularities were accidently uncovered by The International Council on Clean Transportation and students from West Virginia University during a study on diesel cars. The groups tested two Volkswagens and one BMW in a 4,000km road trip between California and Washington State. The tests found that the two Volkswagen vehicles exceeded the legal nitrous oxide caps by as much as 35 times. While the BMW in the test met all the emission standards under normal driving conditions. The two groups alerted the California Air Resources Board and the Environmental Protection Agency in 2014.


Initially, Volkswagen dismissed the claims of the study saying that the tests were flawed. After further questioning and investigation; Volkswagen admitted to having installed a “cheat device” in about 11 million of their vehicles to falsify the emissions output during lab tests.


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An emissions committee established after the scandal broke are asking how many people were aware of this dishonesty. Angela Merkel has been the German chancellor throughout this saga. One of the main questions that she must answer is why was the diesel cheating uncovered by officials in the United States and not Germany's own KBA motor vehicle authority?


Merkel claims that she first received news of dieselgate via a phone call on September 22 2015 – just after Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn says he was made aware of the scandal. However, authorities have reason to believe that Winterkorn and other higher-ups knew of the wrongdoings of VW months before this date.


Volkswagen is a major economic staple of Germany with some 800,000 people being employed by the group and Merkel has in the past nurtured the nation’s auto industry. She was quick to intervene when France’s Peugeot stepped in to purchased German carmaker Opel. Merkel helped to secure guarantees regarding the future of German workers’ jobs in the build up to the deal. MP’s are also interested in finding out more about a conversion that occurred between Merkel and the then Californian governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2010. Merkel apparently criticised the strict emissions regulations on diesel cars in the state of California during the meeting.


The inquiry committee has set out to discover if the protective stance that Angela Merkel has taken in regards to German automakers in the past could have extended to covering up a dangerous emissions scandal.


Images from European People's Party under Creative Commons


David Stafford

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