All diesel vehicles to be checked for emissions: Minister

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New Delhi, Dec 2 (IANS): The central government on Wednesday said that it will carry out extensive checks on all diesel passenger vehicles in the country within the next six months to ascertain if any violations of emission norms have taken place.

The decision to go in for a massive drive to check all the diesel passenger vehicles across the country came a day after Volkswagen Group India admitted to have violated emission norms.

The company also announced one of the largest voluntary recalls of diesel passenger vehicles.

Citing the emission norms violation as a “well-thought-out crime”, Heavy Industries Minister Anant Geete said the government will ask the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) to check out all the diesel passenger vehicles across the country within the next six months.

“Over the next six months, we will carry out checks on emission levels of all diesel passenger vehicles in India,” Geete said here.

On Tuesday, Volkswagen Group India announced a voluntary recall for updating all cars fitted with the EA 189 engines in the Indian market. Till November end, approximately 323,700 cars of Volkswagen, Skoda and Audi in India were equipped with EA 189 diesel engines.

The company had presented its observations, findings and outlined possible solutions on the EA 189 diesel engines to the heavy industries ministry and ARAI.

“The recall will encompass cars from the Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda model range which carry the software that requires to be updated,” the company was quoted as saying in a statement.

“The Volkswagen Group India will first present the technical released solution to the ministry of heavy industries and ARAI. Once approved from the competent authorities, the respective brands of the Volkswagen Group in India will carry out necessary actions in a step-wise manner.”

According to the company, existing installed software does not affects the handling, technical safety or roadworthiness of the cars.

As per the company records from 2008 till end of November 2015, approximately 198,500 cars from Volkswagen, 88,700 cars from Škoda and 36,500 cars from Audi across various models sold in India have been equipped with the EA 189 which includes 1.2-litre, 1.5-litre, 1.6-litre and 2.0-litre diesel engines.

“All the owners of vehicles with EA 189 engines will be informed by Volkswagen Group India through the respective brands about the technical measures that will be implemented in their cars. All necessary technical measures will be implemented in the vehicles at no cost to the customers,” the statement said.

“Volkswagen Group India remains fully committed to the Indian market and will not deviate from its future planned investments, product plans and launches. All brands of Volkswagen Group in India will work strongly towards regaining the customer confidence and trust.”

The automobile manufacturer was served a notice by the government last month over the alleged charges of manipulating emission norms in India, as it has done in the US.

The company had to respond to the notice issued by the ARAI by the end of November. The ARAI has been authorised by the central government to conduct an investigation into the matter.

The ARAI is a research association formed between the automotive industry and the ministry of heavy industries.

Subsequently, a high-level team headed by the top brass of the Pune-based ARAI submitted its preliminary findings to the government on September 30.

The investigation in India was started after the automobile manufacturer was caught fudging emission data of its diesel powered cars to bypass strict emission norms in the US.

The fudging scandal began unfolding in the last week of September, when the European car giant said it had used a software in the US to provide false emission test results.

Several countries around the world and Europe had started independent inquiries to find out whether the fudging practice also took place there.

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