Fallout from the Volkswagen diesel scandal continues to grow, as this morning brings reports that Audi’s head of research and development Ulrich Hackenberg and Porsche’s engine chief Wolfgang Hatz are both out — two of the top engineering figures in the Volkswagen’s other flagship brands. That comes as a bit of a surprise, even though it’s widely expected more heads will roll at VW aside from Martin Winterkorn, the CEO of the company’s worldwide operations, who resigned effective yesterday.
Meanwhile, there’s word from the German newspaper Auto Bild that BMW’s diesel engines were also “significantly” exceeding regulatory limits, CNBC reports, with the BMW X3 2.0-liter diesel model spitting out 11 times more nitrogen oxide than the current level set by the European Union.
“[We did not] manipulate or rig any emissions tests. We observe the legal requirements in each country and adheres to all local testing requirements,” BMW said in a statement in response to the allegations. “When it comes to our vehicles, there is no difference in the treatment of exhaust emissions whether they are on rollers (e.g. test bench situation) or on the road…We are not familiar with the test mentioned by Auto Bild concerning the emissions of a BMW X3 during a road test. No specific details of the test have yet been provided and therefore we cannot explain these results.”
Late last week, news of the diesel scandal broke as VW admitted to cheating on emissions tests with the use of a software-based defeat device on almost 500,000 of its 2.0-liter “clean diesel” TDI engines sold in versions of the Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, Golf, new Golf SportWagen, Passat, and Beetle, as well as the Audi A3, since the 2009 model year. The scandal encompasses both the 140-horsepower, 236 lb-ft-of-torque blocks and the newer 150-hp engines released beginning with 2015 models. Later VW admitted that the software is actually installed on over 11 million vehicles globally.
While diesel engine sales account for less than one percent of the passenger car market in the US, it had been growing, and it composes much more of the European car market thanks to higher fuel prices, looser emissions standards, and widespread fudging — reports abound of car manufacturers taping the doors shut and folding in mirrors to improve aerodynamics during tests, for example. It’s already known that VW has cheated in both the US and Europe. But the fact that its other brands may be exposed in the same manner, and that other auto manufacturers like BMW may also be involved, improve the odds that diesel may soon be dead in cars in the US once more.