Reports: Volkswagen received warning on illegal software years ago

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Berlin (dpa) – Volkswagen officials were warned four years ago about illegal software installed in diesel-powered cars that allows emissions to be masked, according to a German media report Sunday.

A Volkswagen technician alerted the company in 2011 about the software, which enables vehicles to pump out more pollutants than allowed by regulators, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung reported.

The newspaper said the disclosure was included in a VW internal report that was given to the company’s supervisory board on Friday, the day the automaker appointed Porsche head Matthias Mueller to take over for Martin Winterkorn as chief executive.

According to the inquiry, it was unclear why the information was not acted upon by VW leaders in 2011, the newspaper reported.

In a separate report on the same inquiry, German tabloid Bild am Sonntag said that automotive parts supplier Bosch cautioned VW in 2007 not to use its emissions software illegally.

A Volkswagen spokesman declined to comment on the reports.

In a letter to the company’s 600,000 employees on Sunday, a copy of which was obtained by the Handelsblatt newspaper, Mueller said VW was facing “unprecedented challenges” and promised a full investigation into the scandal.

“We will develop and implement the most stringent compliance and governance standards in the industry,” he wrote.

The crisis at the German automaker erupted a little more than a week ago, when the US Environmental Protection Agency accused the company of circumventing air pollutant standards.

Volkswagen later admitted to manipulating its US emissions test results with the use of software and said 11 million vehicles are affected.

VW’s stock has plunged in the wake of the scandal, with regulators in several countries launching their own investigations as the company braces for a wave of potential litigation.

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