Germany’s transportation minister said Thursday that software installed in millions of Volkswagen diesel cars might have been used to fool official emissions tests in Europe, not just the United States.
Alexander Dobrindt, the transportation minister, indicated that 10 million diesel cars in Europe could be affected by the manipulation. If true, the Volkswagen software used to deceive emissions tests would have been more widely used than the company has disclosed.
Volkswagen said Tuesday that 11 million cars worldwide were equipped with the software that the Environmental Protection Agency said was used to trick emissions tests in the United States. About half a million of those cars are in the U.S., and analysts say about 10 million are in Europe.
But it had been unclear whether the software was dormant in cars sold in Europe or actively used to circumvent pollution standards, as Volkswagen admitted was the case in the U.S.
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Disclosures of larger problems would add to the widespread damage to the reputation of Volkswagen, which is a leader in an industry that forms the bedrock of the German economy.
Volkswagen is also under pressure to name a replacement to Martin Winterkorn, the chief executive who resigned Wednesday. Some news reports named Matthias Mueller, head of Volkswagen’s Porsche division, as the most likely candidate. But people close to the company’s supervisory board said it was too early to confirm that a decision had been made.
Mueller, 62, might be an attractive choice because Porsche, the division he oversees, is untouched by the scandal. Porsche, along with the Audi division, account for most of the parent company’s profit.
As an indication that other European officials are growing wary, the European Commission on Thursday urged its 28 member nations to test vehicles on their roads and report the findings. France indicated its intentions to begin random testing.