Volkswagen says auto emissions issue is an “administrative” error

GM, Ford and Chrysler plan to build more compact cars in Mexico (Photo:

German automaker Volkswagen’s Mexican unit said an administrative error resulted in the company’s vehicles lacking a necessary environmental certificate and being fined nearly $9 million, but it said it now had all of the required permits, EFE news agency reports.

Mexico’s Profepa environmental protection agency imposed the 168-million-peso (USD$8.9-million) fine on Volkswagen Mexico for importing and selling 2016 model vehicles in the country that lacked an environmental certificate showing compliance with emissions standards.

“This was due to an administrative process that was unintentionally not carried out on time within Volkswagen Mexico,” the company said in a statement Tuesday Feb. 16.

“Currently all 2016 model vehicles of the group’s brands” have the required permits in compliance with current environmental regulations, Volkswagen said, adding that all of its vehicles “are safe from a technical standpoint and can be used without restriction.”

The NOM environmental compliance certificate establishes, among other things, the maximum allowable level of total hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide and particles from new cars’ exhaust pipes and also sets the maximum allowable level of noise and the measurement methodology.

Volkswagen Mexico was fined for importing and selling 45,494 Audi, Bentley, Porsche, Seat and Volkswagen vehicles in Mexico that lacked that environmental permit, Profepa said in a statement.

Passat sedans are lined up to be tested at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Photo: CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Erik Schelzig 2013)
Passat sedans are lined up to be tested at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Photo: CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Erik Schelzig)

Profepa said the fine was separate from an investigation being conducted in Mexico over the Volkswagen defeat device scandal.

In September of last year, Environment Secretary Rafael Pacchiano said Mexico would review Volkswagen’s emissions certificates for diesel engine vehicles the automaker had sold in Mexico since 2009 to verify if they were in compliance with national standards.

That probe came after Volkswagen acknowledged that the defeat devices had been installed on nearly 500,000 2.0-liter diesel-powered Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen vehicles sold in the United States since 2008.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accused the automaker last September of using the devices to dupe regulators.

The software on those engines detected when emissions testing was taking place and activated the cars’ emissions controls.

When those same vehicles were being driven under normal conditions, the controls were turned off and they spewed up to 40 times the United States’ legally allowable amount of nitrogen oxide, which contributes to the formation of smog and acid rain.

The automaker said last September, after the scandal broke, that 11 million of its vehicles worldwide had been equipped with the defeat devices.


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