It seems a week can't go by without another automaker being embroiled in either a fuel economy or emission mess. This week, the German Government has requested Opel to provide more information on a piece of software that turns off the emission controls in the Zafira. The issue at hand is whether or not this software violates regulations.
"Shut-off devices are fundamentally illegal, unless it is truly necessary to safeguard the engine," said Alexander Dobrindt, Germany's transport minister after a meeting with Opel to discuss this issue.
"Therefore it's clear that in this situation, we have our doubts."
This meeting comes after a joint investigation between Spiegel magazine, ARD television's Monitor program and the Deutsche Umwelthilfe environmentalist group. The investigation found software used in the Insignia and Zafira that would turn off emission controls under various conditions such as going above 90 mph. Opel went on the defensive, saying the conclusion was wrong.
"We at Opel don't have any illegal software," said Opel president Karl-Thomas Neumann in a statement on Tuesday.
Opel explained they do have software that can turn off the emission controls at high speeds, but this was only done to protect the engine. The automaker says this software is legal.
But the committee who is looking into this issue has their doubts.
"The investigating committee has doubts about whether this practice is completely justified by the protection of the engine," said Dobrindt.
Opel has promised to cooperate with the investigation. The committee gave the automaker 14 days to provide technical information on the software.
Dobrindt said he would ask other automakers if they use something similar to Opel's software.