BERLIN • Several engineers at scandal-hit German carmaker Volkswagen (VW) have admitted to installing the device in the company's cars aimed at cheating pollution tests, a newspaper reported yesterday.
Bild Am Sonntag said the employees told an internal investigation that they had been involved in the affair, which came to light last month. "Several engineers stated that they installed the deception software in 2008," the newspaper said.
Bild did not reveal their identities or say how many had made the admission. But it said their statements had so far failed to unmask those who masterminded the scam.
The engineers said the EA 189 engine, developed by VW in 2005, could not have complied with pollution caps and cost targets without the deception.
Volkswagen has admitted that up to 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide are fitted with the so-called defeat device. The gadget detects when the car is undergoing testing and switches the engine to a low-emissions mode. It then switches off this mode when the car is on the road. Under real conditions, the car spews out far higher emissions than is permitted.
The global scam has wiped more than 40 per cent off Volkswagen's market capitalisation and led chief executive Martin Winterkorn to resign.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a German radio station that the emissions scandal was "drastic" but the damage was not so great that Germany was no longer deemed a good place to do business.
"I believe the reputation of the German economy and the trust in the German economy have not been shaken by this to the extent that we are no longer considered a good business location," she told Deutschlandfunk in an interview broadcast yesterday. She said she hoped Volkswagen would quickly create transparency and sort things out.
Meanwhile, the head of the European Parliament told a group of German regional newspapers that the scandal would hit the German economy hard, but Europe's biggest carmaker was likely to survive the crisis.
"It's a heavy blow for the German economy as a whole," Mr Martin Schulz, a German Social Democrat, was quoted as saying by the newspapers.
"It's hard to believe what was done there negligently and possibly even with criminal energy. But I believe that Volkswagen is a strong company that has every chance of surviving the crisis," he said.
VW has set aside €6.5 billion (S$9.3 billion) to help cover the cost of the scandal, but some analysts think the final bill could be much higher.
AGENCE FRANCE- PRESSE, REUTERS, BLOOMBERG