Germany has ordered a probe into new allegations that the country's largest automaker Volkswagen had not only manipulated the emissions test results of over 11 million diesel cars sold around the world, but also cheated on the carbon dioxide emissions in 98,000 petrol cars in Europe.
This was the first time that petrol cars were drawn into the emissions scandal, which has been rocking the carmaker since the US Environmental Protection Agency revealed in early September that thousands of VW diesel cars sold in the US were fitted with a special device on their engines, which could detect when the cars were undergoing emission tests and reduce their pollution levels.
A government inquiry commission, which was appointed shortly after the scandal broke out, has asked the industry regulator, the federal office for automobiles, to examine the CO2 emissions test results and consumption levels of the cars involved, federal transport minister Alexander Dobrindt told parliament on Wednesday.
The government is also working on a legislation to ensure that Volkswagen will be made liable for additional costs through higher taxes and they will not be passed on to the consumers, he said, during a special debate on this issue in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament.
Volkswagen said on Tuesday that an internal investigation showed CO2 emissions and fuel consumption levels were concealed during standard tests with the help of a special device fitted on the engines.
According to the company, about 800,000 cars sold in Europe, mostly diesel cars, but a 'limited' number of petrol models were affected.
They included Polo, Golf, Passat, Audi A1 and A3 as well as Skoda Octavia and Seat Leone and Ibiza, according to the company.
Dobrindt told the Bundestag that among the 800,000 cars affected by the manipulation of CO2 emissions and consumption levels, were 98,000 petrol cars.
The emissions scandal widened on Tuesday with the EPA accusing the company of concealing the level of nitrogen oxide emissions during tests with the help of a special device fitted on its larger 3.0 litre diesel engines used in large sports vehicles.
The EPA had ordered a recall of 482,000 cars in the US in September after it detected the existence of a special software, which allowed cars to pass emission control tests by showing much lower levels of pollution than during ordinary use.
Volkswagen later admitted that around 11 million cars sold around the world were fitted with the software to deceive the results of emission control tests.
Dobrindt said if the CO2 emissions levels of the cars involved are raised, the automobile tax levied on the cars also would go up and they could be levied retroactively.
Therefore, his ministry is working in cooperation with the finance ministry to draw up a draft legislation to ensure that Volkswagen will have to bear the additional costs and not the consumers.
Volkswagen estimates that the alleged CO2 emissions cover-up could cost the company up to 2 billion euros, in addition to 6.7 billion euros it had already set aside to deal with the consequences of the initial scandal.