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High-speed shut-off device used by Opel: Report

Emission admission: Opel has installed software on its Zafira minivan that shuts off exhaust treatment systems at high speeds.

Opel admits to using emissions software on Zafira minivan, denies wrongdoing

20 May 2016

GENERAL Motors' German brand Opel has conceded that it has installed software on its Zafira minivan that turns off exhaust treatment systems at certain speeds.

Automotive News Europe has reported that the German government is investigating Opel for its alleged breach of emissions regulations, however Opel has denied any illegality in its practicesOpel claims that it has not circumvented any laws, as the shut-off software only kicks in at exceptional speeds and is designed solely to protect the engine.

The software was also identified as being present in the diesel versions of its Insignia mid-sized sedan.

The revelation comes as a result of a joint investigation between German magazine Spiegel, TV broadcaster ARD and environmentalist group Deutsche Umwelthilfe, that found that the cheat software activates under conditions such as driving at speeds in excess of 90 miles per hour (145 km/h).

According to Automotive News Europe, German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt said that in a meeting held mid-week, Opel confirmed that the exhaust treatment systems shut down under certain speed and air pressure conditions.

“Shut-off devices are fundamentally illegal unless it is truly necessary to safeguard the engine,” Mr Dobrindt said.

“The investigating committee has doubts about whether this practice is completely justified by the protection of the engine.”

This case is different to the Volkswagen Group emissions cheating scandal, as the German giant installed software that rigged emissions tests as opposed to shutting down exhaust treatment systems under particular conditions.

The committee overseeing the investigation has given Opel 14 days to provide them with necessary technical information, and the car-maker has promised full cooperation.

Opel CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann has reportedly claimed that the software does not break any existing laws, stating, “I reiterate that our engines conform to the law and do not use illegal software.”

Earlier in the week, Dr Neumann described the allegations leveled against Opel as “misleading oversimplifications and misinterpretations of the complicated interrelationships of a modern emissions control system of a diesel engine,” adding that Opel does “not believe that these results are objective or scientifically founded”.

The belief of legality stems from the fact that while some sections of the German autobahn are unrestricted in terms of speed limit, roughly 50 per cent of autobahns and regular freeways have a recommended limit of 81 mph or 130 km/h, slightly under the level that disengages the software.

The investigation will continue once Opel has provided the investigative committee with additional information.

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