Volkswagen CO2 emissions scandal less damaging than expected

The German automaker says affected vehicle numbers are far smaller than expected.

Volkswagen says only 36,000 new cars are producing CO2 beyond official figures, which places a separate emissions scandal to rest.

Volkswagen has not had a great year so far. The company was thrown head-first into hot water after being found to use "defeat devices" to circumvent clean air emission regulations in millions of vehicles.

This resulted in wide recalls for repairs, countries launching investigations into the cheating, lawsuits and both angry customers and dealerships. In the United States alone, Volkswagen was forced to recall 500,000 vehicles, with roughly 11 million faulty vehicles worldwide.

Not only is the German automaker in serious trouble with governmental authorities across the globe, but the firm has taken a hit both in reputation and earnings -- with an expected bill of $7.3 billion to rectify the damage.

Then, another unrelated problem surfaced to give Volkswagen another migraine -- this one relating to fuel consumption and CO2 emission rates. In November, Volkswagen launched an internal investigation alongside the wider, more problematic scandal in order to determine whether carbon dioxide emission rates on new cars were being sold under false CO2 rates and fuel consumption figures.

In an update, the German automaker said its internal investigation and the CO2 issue is "largely concluded" with damaging figures far smaller than first believed. According to Volkswagen, only a small number of new car models are affected by the additional emissions problem, which was originally feared to impact up to 800,000 vehicles.

Instead, the automaker says only 36,000 cars based on nine model variants have incorrect carbon dioxide emission rates, and there is no evidence to suggest illegal tampering or intentional fiddling of car mechanics.

"The figure of approximately 800,000 vehicles under suspicion originally published by the Volkswagen Group has not been confirmed," the German automaker says.

"The deviations found in the figures for only nine model variants amount to a few grams of CO2 on average, corresponding to increased cycle consumption in the NEDC of approximately 0.1 to 0.2 litres per 100 kilometres. With an annual production of approximately 36,000 vehicles, these model variants correspond to around only 0.5 percent of the volume of the Volkswagen brand."

These models will be remeasured under the watchful eye of the authorities before Christmas. When car fuel consumption rates and CO2 emissions match original figures, these models can then be sold by dealerships without any consequences. Those which fail will have their figures adjusted in the future.

Volkswagen has handed over the results of its investigation to the German government and Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA).

The automaker originally estimated that this further scandal could result in a €2 billion hit against the company's earnings. However, the company now does not know how financial results will be affected until the remeasurements have been completed.

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