The manufacturer Opel is in turn swept away by the scandal of the ” dieselgate “. Spared until now, the German brand, owned by the PSA group, has been the subject of a police raid, Monday, October 15. In the morning, seven attorneys and thirty-three police officers have arrived at the headquarters in Rüsselsheim (Hesse) and on the website of Kaiserslautern (Rhineland-Palatinate). They suspect Opel have installed illegal software on the diesel engines of the three models (Insignia, Zafira and Cascada) Euro 6 standard. Several tens of thousands of vehicles are affected in Europe.
Opel has confirmed the investigation and said “cooperate fully” with the justice. He denied strongly the presence of such software in its engines. “The company claims that its vehicles meet the applicable standards,” said the group. However, the authority of control of motor vehicles (KBA) has apparently strong reasons to believe the reverse : it believes it has identified the presence of such software in the incriminating models. The department of transport, for its part, does not intend to prolong the suspense : it has decided the mandatory recall of 95 000 vehicles of suspects.
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Such a celerity surprising in a country where the authorities are typically more accommodating with the builders. But the tide has turned. The department does not want to give the impression of being hesitant, three years after the outbreak of the ” dieselgate “. To the extent that, in the case of Opel, the suspicions are the former. As early as 2016, an investigation was initiated against the manufacturer in this case.
“At the end of 2015, the KBA has found in Opel software disabling of the control systems, on which the department harbored doubts from the start,” said the ministry. The manufacturer has been asked to remove these programs from deactivation during the upgrading of the software, which has not been done fully. “At Opel, the execution of these measures has long been delayed,” stressed the ministry.
Software disabling of the control systems are warranted by the manufacturers to “protect” the engine when the temperature is too low or in certain driving situations. The engine emits more nitrogen oxides (NOx) toxic. But doubts remain as to the actual necessity of these measures.
The topic is highly sensitive. Because of the high levels of pollution in NOX of German cities, several administrative law judges, including Berlin, have ordered driving bans for diesel vehicles, causing the concern of many motorists potentially prevented from reporting to work. However, the CEO of Opel, Michael Lohscheller, was keen to reassure its customers : “buy today an Opel can be sure not to be concerned by the traffic bans “, he repeated last week.
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The raids on Monday and the mandatory recall suggest that the old diesel models of the brand are far less blameless than that. The effect on Opel, whose sales do not recover, it could be disastrous. Despite an operating profit of 502 million euros in the first half, Opel still suffers from serious structural weaknesses. Its development center in Rüsselsheim, which employed almost half of the group’s employees in Germany, is in sharp overcapacity.