Volkswagen, Europe’s largest and the second-largest car maker in the world behind Toyota, is facing one of the biggest scandals the automotive industry has ever seen.
The scandal started to unravel on September 18, when the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said that Volkswagen illegally installed software determined by the EPA to be a "defeat device", designed to circumvent environmental regulations on emissions of nitrogen oxides pollution by diesel-engined 2009 to 2015 model year Volkswagen- and Audi-branded cars sold in the US. It has been reported that penalties may include fines ranging over 16 billion euros, and possibly criminal charges. Some German analysts are also worried that the scandal will blemish not just the car company, but the entire “Made in Germany” brand, long known to standing for quality and trust – something that Volkswagen has also so far symbolised.
The emissions scandal doesn’t only concern the US-sold vehicles, but as the company has now officially admitted, 11 million vehicles around the world.
At this point, it is unknown for how many VW or Audi-branded diesel cars with “defeat devices” have been sold in Estonia, how many might be recalled or whether the company will pay fines for the environmental damage. For example, British daily The Guardian said on Wednesday that Volkswagen’s rigging of emissions tests for 11 million cars means they may be responsible for nearly 1 million tonnes of air pollution every year, roughly the same as the UK’s combined emissions for all power stations, vehicles, industry and agriculture.
Anda Budlevska, Volkswagen Group’s marketing executive in the Baltic states, based in Latvia, told ERR News that the Riga office does not have an information yet whether vehicles will be recalled in Estonia and other Baltic states. However, VW has issued a statement which confirms that it plans to set aside a provision of some 6.5 billion euros, “to cover the necessary service measures and other efforts to win back the trust of its customers”.
"Over the last week there has been a lot of discussion about our diesel-powered vehicles. We would like to reassure our customers that there is no question relating to the safe use of any of our vehicles. We have identified about 11 million cars globally that may be affected by the software related to emissions measurements. We are working diligently to identify the precise vehicles by model and by country and we will share that information as soon as it is available. Our customers are able to continue to safely use their cars as part of their daily lives," the company said in a statement.
Editor: S. Tambur