Germany opens Opel probe in 'dieselgate' scandal

German authorities are investigating car manufacturer Opel.
German authorities are investigating car manufacturer Opel.
Image: FILE

German authorities are investigating carmaker Opel as part of an inquiry into the "dieselgate" scandal that saw major manufacturers such as Volkswagen fined billions of euros for cheating emissions tests, the transport ministry said Saturday.

A ministry spokesman told AFP it was looking into Opel's Euro 6 diesel models but stressed "nothing definitive" could be concluded until the probe was complete.

According to the mass-selling tabloid Bild, Opel's Cascada, Insignia and Zarifa models are under investigation, totalling 60,000 vehicles.

Without citing its sources, the paper said Germany's Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) had "strong evidence" to suggest exhaust management systems in some models had been totally deactivated during normal driving.

If that were the case, it suggested Opel's diesel models would exceed emission limits "by more than 10 times".

Bild quoted an Opel source as saying that models currently in production were not part of the investigation.

Opel, a subsidiary of France's PSA group of carmakers, said in 2016 that it has never installed devices used to cheat emission tests in its vehicles.

"Our cars comply with legal norms," Bild quoted the firm as saying.

The dieselgate crisis started when the Volkswagen group admitted in 2015 to installing so-called "defeat devices" in some 11 million diesels worldwide that made them seem less polluting in lab tests than they actually were on the road.

It has so far cost the VW group more than 25 billion euros ($29 billion) in buybacks, fines and compensation, mainly in the United States where the cheating scam was first uncovered.

Last month, Audi chief executive Rupert Stadler was arrested over parent company Volkswagen's role in the scandal.