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VW scandal widens as France and Italy launch deception inquiries

VW scandal widens as France and Italy launch deception inquiries

PARIS: The Volkswagen emissions-testing scandal is deepening, with authorities in France and Italy launching investigations into the embattled German carmaker.

Italy’s competition regulator is to investigate whether VW engaged in “improper commercial practices” by promoting its vehicles as meeting emissions standards which it failed to reach without a “defeat device”.

The inquiry involves Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda diesel vehicles sold between 2009 and 2015. VW has suspended the sale of affected vehicles in Italy, and has said it will recall more than 650,000 vehicles in the country.

In France, an official from the prosecutor’s office told Reuters that an inquiry had been opened. The French magazine L’Express said this had been launched at the instigation of Pierre Serne, vice-president of the region Île-de-France responsible for transport.

It also emerged on Friday that other car manufacturers – BMW, Chrysler, General Motors, Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz – are under scrutiny from the US regulator that exposed Volkswagen’s manipulation of emissions tests.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has broadened its investigation to include at least 28 diesel-powered car models made by those companies, according to the Financial Times.

VW has admitted to the US regulator that it fitted up to 11m vehicles worldwide with software that manipulates the tests. Its chief executive, Martin Winterkorn, has stepped down and is facing a criminal investigation in Germany, along with other, unnamed, employees of the carmaker.

The EPA will initially test one used vehicle of each model and then widen the enquiry if it finds anything suspicious, a senior agency official close to the investigation told the FT.