Cars in India not equipped with "defeat device": Volkswagen

The Indian arm of German auto major Volkswagen Thursday denied violation of emission norms in the country and said its cars were not equipped with "defeat device".

PTI| Last Updated: Feb 04, 2016, 20:29 PM IST

New Delhi: The Indian arm of German auto major Volkswagen Thursday denied violation of emission norms in the country and said its cars were not equipped with "defeat device".

The automobile giant, which has earlier apologised for the emission scandal, told the National Green Tribunal that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) and Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) have initiated their investigations in the matter and a final report was awaited.

It said no conclusion has yet been arrived at by the Indian authorities regarding violation of environmental norms in the country and any coercive order would be against the principles of natural justice.

A cheat or defeat device is a software in diesel engines to manipulate emission tests by changing the performance of the vehicles to improve results.

"The answering respondents (Volkswagen) have not made any statement to the effect that they have violated any Indian norms or regulations or that the vehicles manufactured by them are equipped with the alleged 'defeat device'. The allegations made by the applicant on the basis of news reports are completely baseless and lack foundation.

"It is specifically stated that the answering respondents have not made any statement before any judicial/quasi-judicial/government authority or to the media to the effect of admitting any violation of Indian norms," an affidavit filed before a bench of Justice M S Nambiar said.

The company further told NGT that pursuant to ARAI's notice, it voluntarily conducted "on road" tests on the vehicles fitted with EA 189 diesel engines in the presence of ARAI officials by using their equipment.

"The results of the test indicated that 'on road' test emissions were within the range of 1.1 times to 2.6 times of the applicable BS-IV norms. The results are considered to be normal and acceptable as the emissions are always higher when being run 'on road' as compared to the laboratory conditions," it said.

Volkswagen said the emission levels prescribed in USA and Europe differ significantly from the emission limits prescribed in India and the technical specifications of the EA 189 diesel engines also differed significantly in both the countries. 

Justifying its step of recalling cars fitted with EA 189 diesel engines, Volkswagen said the step was taken for technical updation of the vehicles as a goodwill bonafide gesture.

In India, the company has announced to recall 3,23,700 lakh vehicles across its three brands -- Audi, Skoda and Volkswagen. The recall covers cars sold from 2008 till end of November 2015.

On January 6, the NGT had directed the company not to sell any diesel vehicle in India fitted with "cheat device" and file an undertaking in this regard.

The Tribunal had last year issued notices to the Centre, Volkswagen and ARAI on a plea by Delhi residents and a school teacher seeking a ban on sale of its vehicles for alleged violation of emission norms.

Volkswagen had admitted use of cheat device in 11 million diesel engine cars sold in the US, Europe and other global markets that allowed manipulation of emissions tests by changing the performance of the vehicles to improve results.

As per latest reports, the company could face fine of up to USD 90 billion in the US following a lawsuit filed by the US Department of Justice.