Shares of Volkswagen (VW) fell more than 20 per cent on the German stock market on Monday, wiping €15 billion (Dh62bn) off its market value, as investigations spread into revelations that hundreds of thousands of its diesel cars have software that secretly thwarts US emissions tests.
VW, the world’s largest car maker by sales in the first half of this year, said it had halted all diesel vehicle sales in the United States during an investigation into the scandal, which could lead to fines of more than US$18bn.
It is not known how far the manipulation extended.
In Germany, which is hosting the Frankfurt motor show to showcase the industry’s strengths and environmental credentials, the government launched an investigation into whether Volkswagen or other car producers are doing anything similar in Germany or Europe.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said the authorities there, too, would conduct emissions tests on three Volkswagen car models next month to check for similar deception.
According to the US authorities, VW equipped 482,000 cars in the US with sophisticated software that discreetly switches off emissions controls when driving normally and secretly turns them on only when it detects that the car is undergoing an emissions test.
This allows the car to pass the emissions test, earning a certificate of good environmental performance.
Once the test is over, the mechanism deactivates itself, releasing pollutant gases into the air.
“Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health,” said the US Environment Protection Agency (EPA).
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