Volkswagen CEO Reportedly Knew of Diesel Cheating Months Before it Became Public
The timeline just keeps getting murkier.
German auto manufacturers just can't get out of the hot seat when it comes to diesel-related scandals. When one door closes, another more incriminating one opens and implicates them in some way. According to Reuters, it has recently come to light that a senior quality manager at Volkswagen had reported the systematic cheating on U.S. emissions tests to the ex-Volkswagen CEO months before the public found out about the fraud.
It was July 27th, 2015 when former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn was allegedly made aware of emission test cheating vehicles being sold in the United States. A now former senior quality manager had reached out to the CEO to let him know of the issue, and it wasn't until late August that the board itself had been made aware of the allegations. The entire purpose of the conversation with the CEO was to talk about possible issues with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other regulatory bodies.
In September 2015, the story finally broke when EPA issued a "Notice of Violation." Since the notice, Volkswagen had admitted fault to selling over 11 million diesel vehicles equipped with the emissions testing defeat device between 2009 and 2015. Later, during a plea agreement, it became apparent that the information was withheld from Winterkorn until regulatory bodies threatened to not certify the 2016 year-model Volkswagen cars. After that, a meeting between the manager and CEO was requested and the board subsequently informed. Neither Volkswagen nor Winterkorn's commented when contacted by Reuters.
Since the news broke Volkswagen and its associated brands have been through mounds of trouble. Between mandatory recalls of all affected diesel vehicles in the United States and parts of Europe (which owners aren't particularly happy about), to a $1.2 billion fine from U.S. regulatory commissions, this process has cost Volkswagen not only a large sum of money, but also a lot of negative press. The auto giant was even barred from selling diesel cars until earlier this year, when it had begun to resell some of the cars that it made complaint.
Volkswagen has quite some way to go before escaping this in totality. One of the great questions that still remains circulates around who actually ordered the software defeat. Though this may not come to light in the near future, it will forever haunt Volkswagen as its greatest emission-related mistake, and something that may have influenced the future of all diesel cars in the world.