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Volkswagen Acknowledges CO2 Emissions Cheating

William Boston, The Wall Street Journal

Volkswagen AG said it understated the level of carbon dioxide emissions in its past certifications for about 800,000 cars, an admission that broadens the scope of the German auto maker’s emissions-cheating scandal.

VW Epic Fail

For the first time, Volkswagen admitted to providing regulators with inaccurate information about its cars’ CO2 emissions, a key greenhouse gas, and drew its gasoline-powered cars into likely recalls that previously had been limited to its diesel-fueled vehicles.

Europe’s largest auto maker estimated the financial risk to the company from the new admission was about €2 billion ($2.19 billion), but didn’t explain how it reached that figure. Last week, the company recorded a charge to earnings of €6.7 billion to pay for the costs of fixing diesel cars affected by software that could lower emissions during laboratory testing.

The Wolfsburg, Germany, company’s supervisory board said in a statement it was “deeply concerned” about the latest revelations that the company misstated CO2 emissions in addition to cheating on nitrogen-oxide tests. The board said it intended to meet soon “to consult on further measures and consequences.”

The company disclosed the error on Tuesday after conducting its own emissions tests. The report that some gasoline- and diesel-powered vehicles exceed CO2 levels is a fresh blow after its admission in September that 11 million diesel-powered vehicles world-wide could have defeat devices that lowered tailpipe emissions of nitrogen oxides during testing.

Volkswagen initiated an internal investigation after admitting some diesel-powered cars with model years between 2009 and 2014 used software that allowed vehicles to cut NOX emissions during laboratory tests. U.S. and European authorities have begun regulatory and criminal probes.

The auto maker said it was in contact with regulatory agencies to determine steps needed to clarify the situation and to establish accurate values for the CO2 emissions of the affected vehicles.

“From the very beginning I set out to ensure that we mercilessly and completely clear up this situation,” said Volkswagen Chief Executive Matthias Müller in a statement, “This is a painful process but there is no alternative.”

Volkswagen gave no details about which vehicles or engines are affected by the misstated CO2 levels. Industry analysts said cars sold in Europe are likely most affected.

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