Govt 'knew VW was cheating emissions data'
The opposition Green Party claimed on Tuesday evening that the German government admitted to knowing about Volkswagen's emissions cheating software in July - and did nothing about it.
"The government told us in July that it knew about this software that has been used in the USA, and they clearly knew that the software was widely in use," Oliver Krischer, Green Party deputy leader told N24.
"The government worked together with the auto industry, not to ensure that the emissions levels were reduced, but so that the measuring system was set up in such a way that on paper the cars met the necessary standards,“ Krischer continued.
The government had already admitted in July that there were "deficiencies" in the measuring systems for car emissions, the Green Party politician went on.
Krischer lay the charge principally at the door of Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt, who he accused of being "over pious" in his calls for an investigation into Volkswagen's activities.
"It is surprising to see how Mr. Dobrindt acts shocked at the news in recent days, when in July he was very well informed about the situation," said Krischer.
But Dobrindt denied that the government had failed to meet its responsibilities on the issue.
"Again and again we conduct testing. If there are irregularities, we discuss them immediately with the auto manufacturer according to the rules," Dobrindt told reporters on Tuesday.
South Korea questions VW representatives
South Korean environmental officials questioned Volkswagen representatives Wednesday after the German auto giant
was found to have cheated on US emissions tests.
The meeting at the environment ministry focused on the timing and methods for tests to be conducted in South Korea.
"We will complete our work by the end of November," a ministry official told AFP.
The scandal escalated dramatically Tuesday when the automaker revealed 11 million of its cars worldwide could be affected, a disclosure which wiped a third off its market value and threatened to topple the chief executive.
Of the five models equipped with test-cheating software in the United States, four have been imported to South Korea - the Golf, Audi A3, Jetta and Beetle - and about 59,000 of them are on the road.
The US Environmental Protection Agency said VW had been fitting diesel vehicles in the US with software that turns on full pollution controls only when the car is undergoing official emissions testing.
As a result, the agency said the diesel cars at other times emit greater than allowed quantities of pollution linked to smog and various health problems.
As the United States opened a criminal investigation, the automaker's chief executive Martin Winterkorn offered his "deepest apologies" for the scandal.