State prosecutors in Stuttgart have launched an investigation into possible manipulation of emissions data in diesel vehicles against unknown employees of Volkswagen’s Porsche subsidiary, a company spokesman said.
The new probe marks yet a further stage in the emissions scandal that has engulfed Europe’s largest auto group with investigations into VW and Audi models throughout Europe as well as in the US.
Porsche, which has long been linked to VW and was fully consolidated into the group in 2011, has so far largely escaped scrutiny in the scandal. But the discovery of further questionable data at Audi last month alerted authorities to possible problems with the diesel motors Audi supplies for Porsche’s Cayenne model.
The cascading investigations stem from findings in 2014 in the US that emissions from VW diesel models were much lower in government tests than in actual road performance. It emerged that VW had used software to cheat US emissions tests.
The latest criminal probe shows that Dieselgate, as the scandal has come to be known, is far from over. A US court case, meanwhile, has produced testimony suggesting that former VW chief executive Martin Winterkorn knew about the cheating software earlier than he has claimed.
The US Justice Department last week charged a former manager at Audi for encouraging staff to give false information on emissions data to regulators. In Germany, authorities last week arrested one of the top Audi managers involved in developing the company’s diesel engine technology on suspicion of fraud and false advertising.
State prosecutors in Braunschweig are investigating nearly 40 individuals connected to the VW parent company in Wolfsburg on suspicion of fraud regarding diesel emissions. In addition, there are countless lawsuits in Europe from customers and investors. In April, a US federal court levied a $2.8 billion criminal fine against the company for cheating on emissions tests.
Porsche’s Macan model, a smaller SUV than the Cayenne, is part of a “voluntary” recall of 630,000 vehicles by different makers where the emissions technology is questionable, though no charges of illegal activity have been made.
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