VW Memo Warned CEO of Dieselgate in 2014

By Paul Riegler on 16 February 2016
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A Volkswagen executive warned then CEO Martin Winterkorn about an impending U.S. investigation to determine whether the Wolfsburg-based automaker was using emissions test-cheating software on some of its diesel models.

Bernd Gottweis, a senior member of the company’s committee for product safety, sent Mr. Winterkorn a memo in May 2014 to this effect.

The news was first reported by the Bild Am Sonntag in this week’s edition.

Gottweis’ memo shows that senior executives were aware of the potential for what is now known as Dieselgate although it isn’t known whether Mr. Winterkorn read the memo or not.

The article in Bild said that Mr. Winterkorn received the memo on May 23, 2014 and that it was part of a package of documents he took home to study over that weekend.

The memorandum pointed out that officials at the California Air Resources Board were trying to figure out why a study by emissions researchers at West Virginia University found that Volkswagen diesel-powered Jetta and Passat models emitted over 30 times the allowable levels of nitrogen oxide in normal driving despite having passed laboratory tests.

“One must assume that the authorities will subsequently examine VW systems to determine if Volkswagen has installed test recognition in engine management software, (a so-called defeat device),” wrote Gottweis in the memo.

In September, Volkswagen admitted having installed defeat devices that fooled emissions testing systems in over 11 million vehicles worldwide.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)