The managing director of Volkswagen Ireland, Lars Himmer, has been invited to appear before the Oireachtas transport committee over the pollution emissions scandal.
Separately, Environment Minister Alan Kelly is seeking a private meeting with Mr Himmer, who took up his post in January. The group has almost 26% market share in Ireland from its brands Volkswagen, Audi, Skoda, and Seat.
Both the transport committee, headed by Fine Gael TD John O’Mahony, and Mr Kelly want to establish how many vehicles in Ireland are affected by the scandal.
Last week Volkswagen admitted 11m of its diesel vehicles worldwide had been fitted with defeat device software which conned testers into believing the vehicles met environmental standards.
The Department of the Environment confirmed Mr Kelly is seeking to speak to Volkswagen about the possible environmental impacts of the scandal, should Irish cars be affected.
A response has been received and a meeting will take place “at the earliest convenience”.
Volkswagen Ireland has yet to clarify how many Irish cars will be part of any global recall, but reports have put the figure at between 50,000 and 80,000 vehicles.
The car manufacturer has said it would refit the software on the affected cars in the coming weeks and months.
However, if this affects the cars’ emissions and fuel consumption, it may impact on what Irish drivers pay in motor tax. All Irish vehicles sold since July 2008 are taxed based on CO2 emissions rather than engine size.
In a statement, the department said it was keeping the matter “under review”.
“Should revised vehicle registration certificates be issued in relation to such vehicles in order to reflect the actual level of emissions relating to them, this would affect the rates of motor tax applicable. The matter will be kept under review,” said the statement.
The director general of the Society of the Irish Motor Industry, Alan Nolan, said the scandal had not affected Volkswagen sales here but it was “early days” — although sales may not be affected at all.
However, he called on Volkswagen to clarify the issues as quickly as possible, not only for the benefit of consumers but also to the motor industry here.
“Obviously, Volkswagen will have to clarify the issues for consumers and for everyone in the industry. They have said they will. There is clearly an amount of work to be done. It’s clear that these are very serious issues so we would expect that the answers are detailed and accurate,” he said.
Mr Nolan said trust was a key issue but hoped that the scandal would lead to a better testing system that prioritised “real-world” driving conditions over laboratory testing
“We don’t make cars, we import them. When something damages belief in the system, and when people can’t trust the numbers, then it’s clearly is damaging to us all. As soon as its clarified, hopefully we can move on,” he said.
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