FRANKFURT — “Around 50” Volkswagen employees have come forward just ahead of the deadline to testify in the group’s internal probe into a massive pollution-cheating scandal, a spokesman said Tuesday.
VW has launched an internal investigation into the largest scandal in its history after it was forced to admit in September that it had installed software in 11 million diesel engines worldwide, enabling them to cheat in emission tests.
Employees had been given until Monday to come forward to testify without fear of repercussions on the part of VW.
The so-called defeat devices turn on pollution controls when the car is undergoing testing, and off when it is back on the road, allowing it to spew out harmful levels of nitrogen oxide.
The revelations have sparked investigations in several countries, but they turned out to be only the beginning as Volkswagen also admitted that it also understated carbon emissions for 800,000 vehicles.
The company has said the revelations have had an impact on car sales, with demand for the group’s 12 brands — including Audi, Skoda and Porsche — falling. U.S. sales plunged 25% in November, to 23,882 units, down nearly 8,000 from a year earlier.
New car registrations in Germany, however, rose strongly in November, according to data also released Tuesday, appearing to shrug off the VW scandal.
A total of 272,000 new cars were registered last month, an increase of 9% compared with the figure for the same month last year, according to data compiled by the automakers’ federation VDA.
Taking the 11 months to November, new car registrations advanced by 5% to 2.959 million vehicles. Looking ahead to the whole of 2015, VDA is penciling in sales of 3.17 million vehicles, an increase of 4% over the figure for 2014.
For 2016, VDA is forecasting a further modest rise to 3.2 million units “if the framework conditions do not deteriorate,” federation chief Matthias Wissmann said, adding that the VW scandal had undermined confidence in the automobile sector.
Nevertheless, it should not have too many repercussions on sales, nor would it discredit diesel technology in general, Wissmann insisted.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2015