Volkswagen diesel scandal: 10 key dates

The fallout stemming from Volkswagen admitting cheating on diesel emissions tests became global news just a few short months ago, but the scandal has roots dating back several years. Read on for a timeline of what happened. 

1. 2006-2007

Ralf Hirschberger/AP/File
In this Oct. 23, 2015 file photo a worker touches the logo of Volkswagen AG on a Phaeton in Dresden, Germany. Volkswagen has admitted to installing defeat devices in some diesel vehicles.

2006-2007: In the spring of 2006, facing stricter emissions standards in the United States, Volkswagen is forced to cancel production of many of its small diesel cars for the 2007 model year. Soon after, in 2007, the automaker first purchases the diesel engine management software from Bosch, a German engineering giant, that would eventually used in devices that enabled Volkswagen to cheat on emissions tests. 

This past September, Volkswagen admitted to installing such software on millions of cars in Europe and the United States over a period of several years. 

The defeat devices are present in 4-cylinder diesel Volkswagen and Audi vehicles from 2009-2015 model years. They circumvent emissions regulations by turning on full emissions controls during testing, then shutting them down once the vehicle is back on the road.

The defeat device was designed to conceal emissions of nitrogen oxide. During road driving, when the emissions controls were turned off, the vehicles produced as much as 40 times the legal limit of nitrogen oxide pollution, according to the EPA.

Other car companies, including Honda and Ford in 1998, have been caught using similar defeat devices in the past. However, the scale of the Volkswagen scandal has not previously been seen. In the US, nearly 500,000 vehicles are thought to have defeat devices installed. In Europe Volkswagen has recalled a staggering 8.5 million diesel vehicles so far.

Volkswagen faces potentially staggering fines. The maximum fines from the EPA are the United States for 500,000 cars is around $18 billion, although it is unlikely to reach that point. The fines in Europe could be even higher.

Who within Volkswagen ordered the installation of the software, as well as who installed them, is still unknown. The timing of the installation of the first defeat devices suggests that the raised standards by the US EPA Tier 2 program, which was transitioning into effect from 2004-2009, may have spurred Volkswagen to explore alternative methods to appear to meet emissions standards.

1 of 10

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.