German prosecutors probe VW carbon emission allegations
German prosecutors said Thursday they have launched a preliminary investigation against auto giant Volkswagen regarding new allegations it understated the carbon dioxide emissions of up to 800,000 cars.
"We have launched a preliminary investigation, but have not yet decided whether to launch a formal inquiry," a spokeswoman for the public prosecutors in Brunswick, north Germany, told AFP.
That decision would likely be made next week, she explained, adding that the aim of a preliminary probe was to gather and evaluate the available information to determine whether it was sufficient to launch a formal inquiry.
VW is currently engulfed in a massive pollution-scandal that has so far centred on so-called defeat devices, sophisticated software fitted into diesel engines to skew the results of tests for nitrogen oxide emissions.
Those allegations are the object of both regulatory and criminal investigations in a range of countries, including Germany.
But late Tuesday, the embattled auto giant said an internal probe had uncovered "inconsistencies" on carbon emissions as well, affecting not only diesel engines but petrol engines, too.
Nitrogen oxide is a pollutant associated with respiratory problems. In contrast, CO2 is a greenhouse gas which traps heat from the sun and is blamed for man-made climate change.
Tackling CO2 is becoming a rising priority in many countries, especially in Europe, where cars are often taxed according to their carbon emissions.
If the prosecutors do decide to launch a formal inquiry into the CO2 allegations, it will be completely separate from the other investigation into the diesel engine manipulation, the spokeswoman said.
© 2015 AFP