In 2005, Volkswagen was in dire straights. The company was going through a painful restructure and was looking into various ways to get itself back into shape. One of those ways was a possible deal with Daimler on possibly using their diesel technologies. But Volkswagen canceled the talks later that year and worked on their own diesel engines, which led to the cheating software and the mess it finds itself today.
Bloomberg has learned from sources about a top-secret plan known as 'Project Tabletop'. The plan, spearheaded by then VW CEO Bernd Pischetsrieder, involved Volkswagen and Daimler possibly collaborating on projects and a possible deal where Volkswagen would get access to Diamler's BlueTec technologies for cleaning up diesel emissions by using urea injection. However, the talks were called off before an important meeting in August 2005. Sources claim that Volkswagen balked at cost of adding BlueTec to their vehicles - about 1,000 euros per car. Plus, VW couldn't lower production costs to compensate for.
Instead, Volkswagen would go on its own and continue working on their TDI engines. This got strong internal support from then chairman Ferdinand Piech. But it also brought a fair amount on controversy to Volkswagen's top management. Some believed that Volkswagen wouldn't be able to meet the stringent U.S. standards for diesel vehicles without the BlueTec technologies.
Sure enough, in 2006, Volkswagen would begin developing the software cheat that would reduce emissions when it detected specific conditions to know it was being tested. It is unclear if there is a link between the deal falling through and development of the cheat.