German paper Bild am Sonntag reports Volkswagen execs knew a year ago that about 800,000 of its cars in Europe displayed significant differences between their stated and actual fuel economy numbers. This is the separate CO2 emissions issue VW is dealing with apart from the diesel emissions problems. The newspaper didn’t cite sources, but the article contradicts claims by VW that it didn’t discover the CO2 issue until it began investigating the diesel issue.
VW discontinued the Polo TDI Bluemotion in July of this year after one year on the market, citing slow sales. Bild am Sonntag‘s sources say it was former CEO Martin Winterkorn’s decision to pull the model from the market, and that he was aware that this model returned real-world fuel consumption 18-percent below its stated numbers for months before making the decision. When asked, a VW spokesman reiterated the sales rationale for the move.
The question in such cases is what did people know and when did they know it. In another Sonntag report just a few days after VW’s official notification of irregular CO2 numbers, Group engineers admitted to doctoring cars from 2013 until spring of this year in order to achieve Winterkorn’s CO2 reduction target. It’s claimed, though, that VW bosses only found out about it when an engineer admitted it this October. German prosecutors have opened an investigation into the issue, centering their probe on five employees. In addition to the $2.2 billion estimated to fix the problem, the criminal probe could result in tax evasion charges due to the way federal credits are apportioned based on CO2 output.