Volkswagen held an internal presentation in 2006 explaining how to evade US diesel emissions testing, according to a New York Times report today. The report cites two individuals who've seen the presentation — an actual PowerPoint file — which has been uncovered in the course of the ongoing investigation into the scandal. Dieselgate, as it's been called, has already felled numerous executives and threatens to cost Volkswagen tens of billions of dollars.
The presentation was reportedly prepared in response to Volkswagen's realization that it couldn't meet the US's more stringent diesel emissions standards without wearing out filtering equipment too quickly. In lieu of fitting better, cleaner systems that would've increased sticker prices, the presentation showed how VW could use embedded software to detect when an emissions test was underway and change engine parameters in response, making the cars appear cleaner than they actually were.
If the report is accurate, it would all but cement the theory that Volkswagen's cheating was systematic and widely understood within the company — not just the work of a group of rogue engineers — which would make it more difficult to limit and deflect liability. As it stands, VW has already set aside $18.2 billion to cover its liabilities, and has agreed in principle to offer "substantial compensation" to US buyers of affected models.