Volkswagen Australia has pointed the finger at government departments for the delay in rectifying vehicles found to be cheating diesel emissions standards.
In updating the media on the progress of the recall of 99,678 diesel-powered cars from Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda, Volkswagen Australia managing director Michael Bartsch said delays were as a result of the Department of Infrastructure not yet approving the fixes being implemented in dozens of countries.
“The reason why it’s taking so long to fix it [the diesel emissions issues] is not because we haven’t got the fixes, it’s because the process of moving it through the DIRD [Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development] and ACCC has taken a little bit longer than we expected,” said Bartsch, adding that there had been owner frustration about the delays in announcing rectification almost one year on from when the widespread cheating was brought to light.
“There are 77 countries in the world that have EU standards for homologation and only one [of those] country that has not yet approved it and that’s Australia.”
Bartsch said Volkswagen had been in regular contact with the Department and the ACCC and that it had supplied all relevant data and proposed fixes but was awaiting regulatory approval.
“I was speaking with them [the Department] last week to get an update on where they sit with the process and I think they most eloquently said the ball is in their court; they acknowledge that,” he said, adding that “the process, the approval for those 70 percent of cars that need the rework here in Australia is reasonably imminent”.
“All the information, all the data that is required in order for them to approve those fixes lies with them and like all the other 76 EU countries in the world, the outcome of those fixes is that there will be no material differences in the performance of those cars, relative to what someone is experiencing now. All the core performance KPIs will remain unchanged… as we demonstrated for the Amarok.”
Volkswagen has already begun updating software on affected Volkswagen Amarok models as part of a voluntary recall, but in all there are more than 20 models affected by it, with others yet to be approved for repair.
Bartsch also repeated previous statements that, despite the cheating software, Volkswagen does not believe it has exceeded any local emissions levels in the affected diesel models.
“We had to [legally] bring that car to Australia under EU4 [emissions standards], which meant that we had to achieve a maximum of 390 grams of NOx output per kilometre driven,” he explained, adding that it was actually homologated under “EU5 homologation standards, which was a maximum of 280 [g/km]”.
“If you have a look at our homologation papers with that car it was putting out a NOx level of somewhere between 220 and 230. When we reflashed [the software on] that car and took the software out that is the issue of contention it still put out 220 to 230 according to the KBA [German transport authority] testing.”
Bartsch indicated the delays in getting regulatory approvals for emissions fixes was frustrating some owners.
“We are generally a culture that if you screw up and you say ‘yeah I screwed up, now I’m going to fix it’, it’s reasonably accepted. I think for most of our owners, that’s the position. The challenge we have with our owners is that it’s taking a bit too long to fix it.”
Wheels has contacted the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development but is yet to receive a response.