Germany's transport ministry said Friday that nearly 3.6 million 1.6-liter engine cars of Volkswagen AG in Europe will require hardware changes in the wake of the emissions scandal. The news comes just a day after police and prosecutors raided the carmaker’s factories and employees’ homes in Wolfsburg, which houses Volkswagen's headquarters, and elsewhere.
The German carmaker’s Australia unit also reportedly announced Friday that it will conduct a voluntary recall of vehicles equipped with software to cheat on emissions tests, as the estimated number of affected cars neared 100,000. The company’s head office identified another 6,444 cars fitted with the emissions-rigging software in the country, just two days after it put the number at 90,000.
Volkswagen was found to have installed so-called "defeat devices" on its cars that would reduce emission levels during tests. The automaker revealed that as many as 11 million vehicles carry the cheating software.
Michael Horn, head of Volkswagen Americas, blamed "individuals" for using software to cheat on diesel emissions at a hearing before a House of Representatives Thursday.
"This was a couple of software engineers who put this in for whatever reason," Horn said, about the software inserted into diesel cars since 2009, according to reports, adding that “this was not a corporate decision.”
"Some people have made the wrong decisions in order to get away with something," Horn said, as lawmakers attacked federal environmental regulators for failing to catch the scandal for years.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said Thursday that Volkswagen is expected to provide U.S. and California regulators with a preliminary attempt to fix the “defeat devices” by next week.
Volkswagen would deliver the software to the EPA and the California Air Resources Board, following which the two regulators will “begin evaluating the proposed software,” the EPA said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
Volkswagen said that it will begin installing fixes in January in the first of nearly 500,000 of its 2009-2015 vehicles.
On Friday, Volkswagen shares were up nearly 10 percent during afternoon trade in Frankfurt.