It appears that la merde hit the fan on Friday when police raided not one, but two Volkswagen offices near Paris. (News of the events didn't reach the media until Sunday.) The raids affected the automaker's French HQ in Villers-Cotterets northeast of the capital, as well as another office near the main metro airport in Roissy.
As with the German raid, computers were confiscated. Volkswagen officials have confirmed the raids and said that they are cooperating with French officials to uncover the truth behind the worsening scandal surrounding emissions-test-cheating software installed on a range of Volkswagen's diesel vehicles.
MORE TO COME?
The Volkswagen investigation isn't likely to wrap up anytime soon. The scandal affects a variety of models from VW, Audi, Porsche, Seat, and potentially other Volkswagen brands, and it includes vehicles from as far back as 2008. That breadth and depth suggests that quite a few people knew about the illegal software, meaning that the probe could widen considerably over the next few months, ensnaring dozens of designers, engineers, and executives.
In fact, we've already seen a hint what may be to come. In testimony before Congress, Volkswagen's head honcho in the U.S., Michael Horn, said that only three people at Volkswagen were aware of the deceptive diesel software. Elected officials were incredulous -- and rightly so: within days, the media reported that Horn's "three" had grown to "at least 30". Volkswagen has denied those allegations, but who knows what the probe will uncover? After all, we're only one month into it.
In other words, the scandal could be much bigger than many think. By the time the dust settles, it may involve far more employees, far more brands, and far more than the already-staggering 11 million vehicles it currently does.
Sadly, the news doesn't stop with 2015 models. As we learned last week, Volkswagen's 2016 diesel models included more potentially illegal software. Thankfully, Volkswagen told the Environmental Protection Agency about the code before 2016 models were approved for sale. The approval process has now completely stalled, and there's no indication when it will reboot.
The French have quite a bit at stake in this investigation. All told, 946,092 French vehicles are believed to be equipped with Volkswagen's illegal software. That's a significant portion of the 11 million vehicle total and more than twice the 482,000 illegal diesel vehicles registered in America.