Volkswagen emissions scandal – Five questions for the Department for Transport

As the Volkswagen emissions scandal continued to billow out across the media, the National Audit Office asked some interesting questions to the Department for Transport.

In summary, what did the department know about ‘defeat devices’ in vehicles?

And what action did the department take after concerns about real-world emissions data were raised in a report by the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) in 2014?

The questions were contained in an email from the NAO to the DfT, namely from Matt Kay to Fiona Walshe, copying in Rebecca Sheeran and John Parkinson.

The email, released under the Freedom of Information Act, is published below. So here are the questions:

  1. What action did the DfT/VCA take before the scandal broke this month in relation to the concerns expressed by the ICCT in October 2014, including briefing senior officials / ministers?
  2. What action has DfT/VCA taken or is DfT/VCA currently taking to review how the use of ‘defeat devices’ was missed?
  3. What action is DfT/VCA taking now to establish whether similar devices have affected the testing results of models already approved by the VCA?
  4. What action is DfT/VCA taking now to prevent a recurrence on new approvals, e.g. are changes to the testing regime under substantive consideration?

A fifth question followed:

5. Did DfT/VCA have any indication other than the ICCT report referred to in the press of the potential malpractice prior to the scandal breaking this month?

It would be nice to know what answers were given to Mr Kay, who wanted them “before we rule out further investigation”. He was showing some commitment to find out, sending his last question shortly before 10pm.

VW emissions defeat devices email

Sadly, the DfT have so far refused to hand over their full communication, as the documents “comprise of working drafts and email exchanges”, and “until the changes proposed to the text of such documents has been considered and concluded it would not be appropriate to release copies of these as they may not form part of the final document”.

These emails were sent back in September, while the FOI response was sent to me on 30 December 2015.

You can download the DfT FOI response here, and the email from the NAO to the DfT here.

Get in touch if you have any more information.


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