Volvo Exec: VW Diesel Cheating Was an “Open Secret” in Automotive Industry

New report claims Volvo employee suspected something rotten in Wolfsburg seven years ago.

byWill Sabel Courtney|
Volvo Exec: VW Diesel Cheating Was an “Open Secret” in Automotive Industry

A Volvo executive has gone on record stating that Volkswagen's diesel emissions cheating was an "open secret" in the automotive industry years before the Dieselgate scandal burst onto the public stage.

In a conversation with representatives of the Australian media at an event in Spain, Volvo vehicle line executive Kent Falck said he and his coworkers, along with other carmakers, were suspicious as to how VW was able to meet the U.S. market's strict diesel emission standards when others couldn't—at least, without resorting to tricks like urea treatment.

And Falck, at least, claims he has known something was awry for the better part of a decade.

“We have the same suppliers...we are working with the same partners, so we know this technology doesn’t exist,” Falck said, according to News Corp Australia. “I have known that for seven years.” The Dieselgate scandal came to prominence in the middle of 2015.

Falck stated outright that VW's cheating was an "open secret" amongst carmakers, but since none of them were ever able to prove Volkswagen was committing any wrongdoing, authorities were never notified.

At first, Volvo's personnel thought VW might have owned some proprietary tech that enabled them to skirt the the tough American-market emissions standards. But no matter how hard the Volvo team wracked their brains, they couldn't figure out any way Volkswagen was pulling it off, the executive said.

“We sat in a room and reviewed all the facts, figures, whatever we have, with the specialists," Falck said. "We can’t manage it, how [is VW] doing it? We don’t know.”

Falck's statement comes within a day of Volkswagen announcing a settlement with United States governmental authorities worth nearly $15 billion, including payments of up to $10,000 for owners of afflicted vehicles. The carmaker still faces civil and criminal suits in multiple other countries, including its homeland of Germany.

Update—5:40pm, June 28, 2016: A Volvo spokesperson has issued a statement to The Drive in response to the story:

"Kent is an extremely experienced engineer and keeps a very close eye on what his rivals are able to achieve in terms of emissions. At the time, he thought VW may have developed a new technology that allowed them to achieve such notable emission levels. He naturally assumed they had developed a new technology, but it is also fair to say that remained a little sceptical on a personal level as all car makers use the same suppliers. The views he expressed were his own. Volvo Car Corporation has no comment to make."