How Volkswagen plans to prevent another Dieselgate

Automaker releases a trove of information looking at its internal investigation, including why the defeat devices were created and how it plans to go about restoring the public's trust.

Andrew Krok Reviews Editor / Cars
Cars are Andrew's jam, as is strawberry. After spending years as a regular ol' car fanatic, he started working his way through the echelons of the automotive industry, starting out as social-media director of a small European-focused garage outside of Chicago. From there, he moved to the editorial side, penning several written features in Total 911 Magazine before becoming a full-time auto writer, first for a local Chicago outlet and then for CNET Cars.
Andrew Krok
2 min read
Volkswagen TDI

Volkswagen has a fix in place for its diesel models in Europe, but a US solution is still forthcoming.

Antuan Goodwin/CNET

One day after announcing that its carbon-dioxide problem is smaller than initially feared, Volkswagen delivered a trove of information that offers insight into its investigation into the larger issue of cheating diesel emissions. This marks the first time the company has gone public with the findings of its internal probe.

The German automaker came under scrutiny when it admitted to creating illegal software "defeat devices" meant to deceive emissions tests around the world. Outside of a laboratory environment, roughly 11 million diesel vehicles were emitting more nitrogen oxide emissions than the law allowed.

Volkswagen's internal investigation concluded that three factors led to the creation of the defeat device -- a mindset that tolerated rule breaking, weaknesses in reporting and monitoring processes, and the delinquency of individual employees. Initially, Volkswagen could not get its EA 189 diesel four-cylinder engine to meet US emission specifications either on time or on budget, which led to the creation of the software-based deception.

"We are doing everything to overcome the current situation, but we will not allow the crisis to paralyze us," Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller said in a statement. "On the contrary, we will use it as a catalyst to make the changes Volkswagen needs."

One of the most major changes going forward will be third-party verification of emissions output. Future emissions tests will be sent off for external, independent evaluation. The company will also randomly test its vehicles in real-world situations to make sure that the lab results match those from the road.

Part of this also involves handing off its investigation to a neutral third party to ensure all the facts are correct and are capable of passing legal muster. Jones Day, with support from audit firm Deloitte, will sift through the 102 terabytes of information that Volkswagen has collected. The company expects this to go "well into next year," but it will provide a status update in April.

Volkswagen has already submitted proposals for fixing its four-cylinder diesel models in Europe. The US has stricter standards, however, and both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board must approve any suggested fixes before going forward. Volkswagen said it would only discuss US fixes once those two entities have signed off on them.