Automobiles

Volkswagen recalls 8.5M European diesels amid global probes

German transport authority rejects a voluntary recall, and Italian police raid VW's headquarters in Verona.

2014 Volkswagen Jetta TDI
Italian police raided Volkswagen's Verona headquarters this week. Antuan Goodwin/CNET

What started off as a bad morning for Volkswagen has now blossomed into an all-around awful day. After recalling 2.4 million cars in Germany at the demand of the country's transport authority, the automaker will now issue one of the largest European automotive recalls ever, covering some 8.5 million vehicles.

Volkswagen chose to expand the recall beyond German borders in order to treat the issue as a European one, rather than just Teutonic in nature. Originally, the brand wanted to issue a voluntary recall, which would have placed the onus on individual drivers to come in for any remedy. However, Germany's Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) ordered a compulsory recall of every single affected vehicle. The recall will begin "at the start of 2016," Reuters reports.

Now, instead of being able to fix cars as they come in, Volkswagen will have to deal with a massive onslaught of defective vehicles all requiring work simultaneously. The automaker has set aside over $7 billion (directly converted, about £4.5 billion or AU$9.5 billion) to pay for these repairs, but many estimate it will cost several times more than that, considering there are 11 million or so rigged diesels on the road.

Not that Volkswagen knows how to fix the cars in question -- not yet, at least. The sheer number of models and engines that require repair will mean several different fixes are likely, from simple software flashes all the way up to costly retrofits of additional hardware. The answer will come to light soon enough, as Volkswagen has until the end of November to announce its plan to German authorities.

All of this comes amidst investigations both inside Volkswagen and at a government level. The automaker suspended Falko Rudolph, the man formerly in charge of Volkswagen's diesel engine development, as part of the company's internal investigation. Volkswagen recently denied suspending or firing at least 30 higher-ups, as was reported by German outlet Der Spiegel. As if that wasn't enough, Automotive News reports that Italian police raided both Volkswagen and Lamborghini head offices in Verona and Bologna, respectively. Lamborghini is a subsidiary of Volkswagen Group.

Despite claims of emissions compliance, Volkswagen maintains the stop-sale order on all MY2015 Volkswagen TDI models in the US and withdrew its EPA application for MY2016.