The whistleblower who tipped off U.S. regulators to Volkswagen’s emissions cheat was a company chief in the U.S., a new book about the scandal claims.
In the book Faster, Higher, Farther: The Volkswagen Scandal, author and New York Times reporter Jack Ewing names Stuart Johnson, head of VW’s Engineering and Environmental Office in the company’s Auburn Hills, Michigan, plant, as the whistleblower who exposed the diesel emissions cheat to U.S. authorities.
Automotive News, which obtained a copy of the book ahead of its May release, says Alberto Ayala, deputy executive director of the California Air Resources Board (CARB), is quoted in the book as naming Mr. Johnson as the person who told the agency about the “defeat device” VW had installed in about 600,000 U.S. cars.
Going against orders from his superiors to stay quiet about the emissions cheat, Mr. Johnson tipped off CARB on August 19, 2015, just ahead of a key meeting between the agency and VW.
According to Automotive News, “That meeting came after weeks of executive discussions concerning how to keep regulators from discovering that VW had installed a device that would make its diesels meet federal regulations only while running on the dynamometer test.”
The defeat-device programmed VW cars with 2.0-liter diesel engines to release up to 40 times the maximum allowable air pollution, but turn on emissions controls during testing.
The scandal became public weeks later on September 18, 2015.
“You get the feeling from reading the documents that Johnson always felt queasy about the whole situation,” Mr. Ewing told Automotive News.
According to Automotive News, a round of indictments handed down to VW executives implicated in the scheme, including Mr. Johnson’s immediate predecessor, indicate Mr. Johnson (Cooperating Witness 1 or CW1) “has agreed to cooperate with the government’s investigation in exchange for an agreement that the government will not prosecute CW1 in the United States.”
Last week, a federal judge in Michigan ordered Volkswagen to pay a $2.8 billion criminal penalty weeks after the automaker pleaded guilty to conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The company is also paying $1.5 billion to settle federal civil charges and $11 billion to buy back the affected cars and provide other compensation.