India on Thursday ordered a probe into whether Volkswagen (VW) has flouted emission norms in the country. The order comes after the car maker admitted to cheating on emissions tests in the US.
The central government on Thursday has asked Automotive Research Association (ARA) to inquire if Volkswagen had manipulated emission tests data in India as in the US, where it faces a massive fine of $18 billion.
The auto firm has admitted it used a software in some of its diesel engines during emissions tests in the US which enabled manipulation of results. Besides, according to reports, the German government said Volkswagen had manipulated emissions in Europe as well.
"We have requested the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) to check up with Volkswagen and find out if this issue is applicable over here. They are inquiring into the matter," Heavy Industries Secretary Rajan Katoch said.
Asked whether the government had taken note of the charges against Volkswagen, Katoch replied: "Yes. This is, in fact, topmost on my mind right now. Obviously, we need to make sure these kinds of things don't happen here".
"We are studying the matter...if there are any regulatory issues here, they are looked at and plugged".
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The Heavy Industries Ministry is the nodal authority for implementation of the National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRIP), under which testing and R&D centres including ARAI have been set up across the country for vehicles.
Road Transport and Highways Secretary Vijay Chhibber also said the department is working in tandem with the Heavy Industries Ministry over the matter.
Chhibber said steps like sending advisories to all states and the auto sector highlighting the government's concerns over the matter are being taken.
When contacted, a Volkswagen India spokesperson said: "Please understand that we cannot comment on your questions at the moment as the investigations are still running." In the wake of the scandal in the US, the embattled CEO of Volkswagen, Martin Winterkorn, stepped down yesterday.
The German auto major had admitted to the irregularities concerning a particular software used in diesel engines in "some 11 million vehicles worldwide".
The allegations against Germany's largest car maker were initially raised by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which last week ordered it to recall nearly half a million diesel cars fitted with a device that allowed cars to pass emission control tests by showing much lower levels of pollution than in ordinary use.
A special software enabled the cars to detect when they were on emission control test and lower their pollution levels.
It could hide the fact that the emission levels of diesel cars were 40 times higher than the level of pollutants allowed in the US.