Industry > Green

German government orders Porsche to recall 60,000 SUVs

Consisting of diesel-powered Macans and Cayennes

One has to wonder how extensive the diesel emissions cheating is within the VW Group. PHOTO FROM PORSCHE

It seems the vehicle emissions scandal in Germany is rearing its ugly head again. The Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt, the federal motor vehicle authority in the country, has just ordered the recall of almost 60,000 diesel vehicles, and this time it’s hitting Porsche. The company has to return 53,000 current-generation 3.0-liter V6 Macans and 6,800 4.1-liter V8 Cayennes to the factory due to the cars having been fitted with up to five different defeat devices that enable them to pass emissions tests that they would otherwise fail. The cheat software recognizes when a car is undergoing an emissions test, and switches the engine into a special mode that makes it look cleaner than it would ever really be in everyday use. Does this remind you of Volkswagen sound familiar?

What’s especially bad about this recall is the fact that the cars in question were sold as being compliant with the stringent Euro 6 emission standard, the very same standard that the government and the car industry are continuously pushing as a cleaner alternative to older diesel cars. The federal agency is also said to be seriously dismayed about this latest revelation as Porsche had already carried out a software update on the Macan last year (to rectify a similar cheating attempt) but hadn’t informed the regulator about this latest issue at the time (despite probably knowing that it existed).

What looks like a serious display of disrespect toward the government regulator is only a glimpse into the complex economical and political world of the German car industry

What looks like a serious display of disrespect toward the government regulator by Porsche is, in reality, only a small glimpse into the complex economical and political world of the German car industry. Manufacturers are extremely powerful, and the lines between private companies and government are often blurred. For example, Porsche is a member of the Volkswagen family, and VW in turn is partly owned by the government, which makes these situations tricky to resolve.

The whole situation isn’t made any better by a serious disconnect between the higher levels of power in Germany and the automakers themselves. Almost at the same time that Porsche was ordered to yet again recall cars due to emission discrepancies, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was defending the industry in a speech in parliament. In it, she said that it wasn’t in the interest of the government to weaken the car industry “to such an extent that it no longer has the strength to invest in its own future,” and she was appealing to the bosses at VW to rebuild the trust that has been lost since the scandal first broke. Looking at this latest revelation, it seems there is still a long way to go in this respect.

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.