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Extent of VW emissions cheating reportedly discussed earlier than known

  • Volkswagen admitted on September 20, 2015, to installing secret software in hundreds of thousands of U.S. diesel cars to cheat exhaust emissions tests
  • The extent of emissions cheating was discussed two days before the carmaker made the 2015 public announcement, Der Spiegel reported Friday
A measuring hose for emissions inspections in diesel engines in the exhaust tube of a Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI diesel car.
Patrick Pleul | AFP | Getty Images
A measuring hose for emissions inspections in diesel engines in the exhaust tube of a Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TDI diesel car.

Volkswagen engineers told top managers that diesel emissions manipulations went far beyond issues in the United States two days before the carmaker made a public announcement to that effect in 2015, Der Spiegel reported Friday.

Volkswagen (VW) admitted on September 20, 2015, to installing secret software in hundreds of thousands of U.S. diesel cars to cheat exhaust emissions tests and make them appear cleaner than they were on the road.

The news wiped billions of euros off its market value, but its stock price took another hit when it said two days later, on September 22, 2015, that the issue affected not only vehicles in the United States but rather around 11 million cars worldwide.

German securities law requires firms to publish any market sensitive news in a timely fashion. A probe by German prosecutors includes investigating whether VW disclosed the possible financial damage to its investors promptly.

VW said in a statement it believed its management fulfilled its obligations under German disclosure rules. It declined to comment further, citing the prosecutors' ongoing investigation.

Der Spiegel said, without citing sources, that former Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn and finance chief Hans Dieter Poetsch were told by engineers in a meeting on September 20 that the emissions manipulation was a global issue. It said the participants of that meeting also discussed whether VW was obliged to inform the public under German disclosure rules.

Winterkorn, who resigned shortly after the diesel scandal broke, has told a government committee that he informed Germany's Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt on September 21, a day before the public statement, that VW's problems were global.

Der Spiegel quoted a document drawn up by VW's lawyers as saying the company did not have reliable numbers on the possible damage until the evening of September 21.