The Cable

The Volkswagen Scandal Spreads to Iconic U.S. Carmakers

Ford and General Motors are accused of using a similar emissions cheat to the one used by Volkswagen.


Volkswagen, the iconic German carmaker, is reeling after admitting millions of its diesel cars and hundreds of thousands of gasoline-powered vehicles used a high-tech cheat to evade U.S. emissions tests. Two iconic American brands are now being accused of similar fraud.

According to the German auto regulator Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA), 50 diesel models from 23 carmakers are being tested under the suspicion they also used the emissions-evading software. This includes Ford and General Motors, two of America’s best-known car manufacturers.

It’s hard not to detect a touch of schadenfreude in play: American regulators go after Volkswagen, Germany’s national brand, so, in turn, German regulators go after two prominent American car builders. But KBA’s inquiry also includes Japanese companies Mitsubishi, Nissan, and Toyota, as well as French carmakers Renault and Peugeot. German companies BMW and Mercedes are also being investigated.

Neither Ford nor GM responded to requests for comment Wednesday. The cars accused of using the cheating software are GM’s Chevrolet Cruze and Ford’s Focus and C-Max.

VW’s admission in September that it knew of the cheat, in part, triggered the investigation, KBA said in a statement. But it also cited “verified indications from third parties regarding unusual pollutants emissions.”

“Since the end of September KBA has been investigating whether further manipulation of emissions, of nitrogen oxides in particular, is taking place in the market,” the KBA statement said.

Whether news of the German investigation would have any negative impact on Ford and GM stock prices remains to be seen; both are so far trading relatively flat Wednesday. VW’s stock has plummeted since the scandal broke in September, down around 70 points to $96.17 Wednesday.

Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

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