(Australian Associated Press)
Volkswagen Group Australia is checking with its German head office to see if cars sold locally have the same emissions-cheating software discovered in the United States.
The car maker has stopped all sales of its diesel vehicles in the US amid an investigation into software that has enabled thousands of cars to cheat emissions tests.
The federal Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, which regulates vehicle emissions standards in Australia, told AAP that it was awaiting clarification from Volkswagen Australia about whether its cars here featured the same software.
A spokesman for Volkswagen Australia told AAP it was seeking more information from head office.
“We are seeking clarification on this topic from our head office in Germany, and we will be providing further information once we have more details,” he said.
The world’s largest carmaker by sales in the first half of this year, Volkswagen faces fines of more than $US18 billion ($A25.23 billion), while US authorities have reportedly launched a criminal investigation into the company.
According to US authorities, the car maker admitted it equipped about 482,000 cars in the US with sophisticated software that covertly turns off pollution controls when the car is being driven, and turns them on only when it detects that the car is undergoing an emissions test.
With the so-called “defeat device” de-activated, the car’s fuel efficiency can be improved, while greater pollutant gases are emitted into the air, as much as 40 per cent higher than emissions standards, the US Environmental Protection Agency said.
The vehicles affected are four-cylinder VW and Audi diesel cars in the US built since 2008.
Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn has apologised and vowed the group will co-operate with authorities.
“I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public,” he said.
Germany’s government has launched an investigation into whether Volkswagen or other carmakers are doing anything similar in Germany or Europe.