‘Too early to say’ if Volkswagen scandal will impact here

German auto giant Volkswagen has admitted that as many as 11m vehicles worldwide were fitted withsoftware to cheat emissions tests.

The Environment Department has said any manipulation of emissions data “would certainly be a matter of concern” if evidence emerges that Volkswagen practices impact on Ireland’s EU air quality obligations.

The statement came as the German car giant admitted that as many as 11m vehicles worldwide were fitted with software to cheat emissions tests.

However, the department said it was too early to say how the scandal would affect Ireland’s emissions obligations — if at all.

“This department is aware of the reports in the media on this issue and will keep the matter under review, and will liaise with other relevant departments, including transport,” a statement said.

“Any manipulation of emissions data would certainly be a matter for concern especially if there is evidence that such practices impact on Member States’ obligations under the various air quality/emissions directives.

“It is too early at this stage to say how, if at all, this current matter would affect Ireland’s targets set under the directives.”

Volkswagen was the the most popular brand of car in Ireland last year selling 11,329 out of a total of 92,361 new cars bought here.

In a statement, the Road Safety Authority (RSA) said that it would be informed by the European Commission if any emission standards had been breached.

“The RSA notes the recent disclosure by Volkswagen in relation to its testing of vehicle emissions to the appropriate American standards,” said the statement.

“It is our understanding that the European Commission is determining whether the European Emission Standard Testing has been affected by Volkswagen’s announcement and the RSA is being kept abreast of same.”

The German car maker confirmed it is to set aside a provision of €6.5bn in the third quarter to cover potential costs arising from the mounting crisis.

Shares in the company, down 19% on Monday, fell by a further 18% yesterday on the back of the statement.

The Environmental Protection Agency in the US said that cars had been fitted with sophisticated software to switch engines to a cleaner mode when they are undergoing official emissions testing.

Volkswagen now faces the cost of recalling millions of vehicles as well as a fine of up to $18bn (€11.1bn) in the US.

Volkswagen’s Martin Winterkorn promised a thorough probe into the incident.

On Monday, the company’s US chief, Michael Horn, admitted the company had “totally screwed up” on the issue, with authorities across the world launching probes, while a number of countries in Europe have called for an EU-wide investigation.

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