It's not just auto industry insiders who are re-evaluating their thoughts on VW's diesel line-up following last week's bombshell accusation that the German automaker willfully installed software in almost a half-million diesel vehicles sold in the US to get around government emissions tests. Things are moving fast in what is already being called "dieselgate," but here are some of the big news items that we've learned since VW CEO Martin Winterkorn issued an apology yesterday.
- The biggest news is that both the US and German governments are looking into criminal prosecutions. Here, the US Justice Department has started a criminal investigation and Germany said that its Federal Motor Transport Authority will get involved.
- When the full history about all of this is written, two key players will be John German and Peter Mock from the International Council on Clean Transportation. They were the researchers responsible for actually calculating the emissions, and thus discovered that what was coming out of the tailpipe and what VW was telling the EPA did not match up. Once the EPA understood what was going on, it forced VW to either explain things all of its 2016 models would not receive certification. Sales of all VW diesels in the US have indeed been stopped, and the EPA says it will take a closer look at all light-duty diesel vehicles in the US.
- The re-engineered 2016 Volkswagen Passat is being launched in New York today. Two senior Volkswagen executives who were supposed to attend the event - Heinz-Jakob Neusser, VW's board member in charge of technical development and Herbert Diess, chairman of the VW brand's management board - have cancelled.
- An Audi vehicle is among the VW Group's vehicles affected by this issue, the A3 TDI. Given that VW has admitted in some fashion to installing the "defeat device" to get around the emissions tests, Audi's slogan "Truth In Engineering" now sounds less than perfect.
- Yes, there is already talk of class-action lawsuits. Nothing official is out yet, but expect to hear more about this in the near future.