The inquiry is focused on the same EA 189 diesel engines, dating back to 2009, that put VW in the hot seat last month when the EPA first announced non-compliance with federal emissions guidelines. The company later admitted to using a software algorithm to detect when a vehicle was being tested, at which point the engine would run in a special mode to bring emissions down to compliant levels.
The agency is now looking into a second software program that may be implicated in the scandal, but was not disclosed by VW as the non-compliance first came to light, according to Bloomberg.
“VW did very recently provide EPA with very preliminary information on an auxiliary emissions control device that VW said was included in one or more model years,” EPA spokesman Nick Conger said.
The company has suggested the offending software was installed by a few ‘rogue’ engineers, without knowledge of or approval from the corporation or top executives. The programming was implemented as the engine’s development was behind schedule due to emissions problems. Investigators will be attempting to determine how VW’s leadership remained allegedly unaware that engineers had resorted to an illegal defeat device to resolve the emissions hurdle without adding a costly urea-injection system or other hardware changes.
The second software program was reportedly behind VW’s decision to withdraw its certification application for 2016-model-year diesel vehicles. Its primary purpose is said to be related to engine warmup, however VW would have been required to disclose the software to the EPA if it could have an effect on emissions. The alleged disclosure failure could expose the company to additional fines or enforcement actions.
VW has claimed as many as 11 million vehicles could be affected by the scandal globally, likely requiring billions in repair costs. Refit programs are expected to begin next year and could extend into 2017 or 2018 before the offending cars are all compliant.