Two models may be hit in latest VW scandal

Company says it will bear extra taxes if Golf GTI, Golf R cars here are found to be affected

A man walking near a Volkswagen AG Golf GTI vehicle at the 16th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition in April 2015.
A man walking near a Volkswagen AG Golf GTI vehicle at the 16th Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition in April 2015.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

Two popular high-powered Volkswagen models here may be affected by a new scandal involving understated carbon dioxide (CO2) emission levels.

The iconic Golf GTI and sportier Golf R are on a list of affected models released by the German manufacturer. However, the company said yesterday it has yet to confirm that cars here are among the estimated 800,000 affected worldwide.

"Volkswagen AG needs some time to confirm exactly which vehicles are affected," said a spokesman. "There are specification differences in the various markets."

The latest development in a widening emission-cheating scandal that is rocking the German giant involves "vehicles with implausible CO2 figures", a VW statement read.

While most of the cars - including VW-owned brands Audi, Skoda and Seat - are diesel-powered, such as the 11 million identified to have higher-than-declared nitrogen oxide levels, petrol models are also implicated in the latest development.

These include the Golf GTI and Golf R, of which several hundred are on the road here. It is unknown how much more carbon dioxide these two models actually emit, but the additional amount may render the cars liable for tax surcharges under Singapore's Carbon Emissions-based Vehicle Scheme.

Volkswagen has assured owners that any taxes arising from the latest carbon conundrum will be borne by the company.

"All taxes arising in direct relation to the CO2 issue are charged straight to the Volkswagen Group and not to the customers," its spokesman said.

Neither the Land Transport Authority nor the National Environment Agency was available for comment on this yesterday.

Meanwhile, experts reckon it will be tough for VW to rectify the CO2 issue. Mr Brinal Chua, managing director of engine-tuning company Autovox, which specialises in Volkswagen Group cars, said: "It's not going to be simple. One way would be to detune the engine electronic control unit, but that will mean a drop in performance."

He added that people who buy GTIs and Golf Rs buy them for their performance, and will kick up a fuss if the engine power is diminished.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2015, with the headline 'Two models may be hit in latest VW scandal'. Print Edition | Subscribe