Volkswagen AG admitted Thursday to manipulating the results of emissions tests in Europe, German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said.
"We have been informed that also in Europe, vehicles with 1.6 and 2.0 liter diesel engines are affected by the manipulations that are being talked about," he said, according to Sky News. He said that it was unclear how many vehicles in Europe had been affected and said that the number would be “clarified in the coming days."
"For this reason, we will also carry on working intensively to find out exactly, together with VW, in detail which vehicles are affected so that we can further inform the public," Dobrindt added. Volkswagen said that it is “working on” a complete list of exhausted models, but “can’t yet say when it will be published,” the Local reported.
The company had previously admitted that up to 11 million cars could have been affected worldwide as part of a massive scandal where the company installed illicit “defeat device” software on Volkswagen cars that would falsify the results of emissions regulations tests.
The software was found to covertly deactivate pollutions controls when the car is being driven, and reactivate it if it detects an emissions test. The U.S. Environmental Protections Agency, which last Friday broke the revelations, found that the level of pollutant gases emitted by Volkswagen cars could be up to 40 times higher than standard limits.
At least 482,000 cars are set to be recalled and the company could face fines of over $18 billion in the U.S. alone.
CEO Martin Winterkorn stepped down Wednesday evening after the scandal. "As CEO I accept responsibility for the irregularities that have been found in diesel engines and have therefore requested the supervisory board to agree on terminating my function," Winterkorn said in a statement. "Volkswagen needs a fresh start... I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation." He denied any knowledge of the illicit practices.
Meanwhile, sources told Reuters that the company plans to begin firing people who were found to be responsible for rigging the tests and will initiate a massive management shakeup Friday, when the supervisory board of Europe’s biggest carmaker is also expected to meet.
The company has halted sales of diesel vehicles in the U.S., faces a slew of lawsuits from angry customers, and is up for possible regulatory investigations and actions in Europe and Asia.