Volkswagen CEO ‘deeply sorry’ for breach of US environment rules
FRANKFURT/HAMBURG (Reuters) – Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE) has ordered an external investigation after U.S. regulators found software the carmaker designed for diesel cars gave false emissions data, its CEO said on Sunday, adding he was “deeply sorry” for the violation of U.S. rules.
“I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public,” Martin Winterkorn said in a statement published by the carmaker on Sunday. “Volkswagen has ordered an external investigation of this matter.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Friday the software deceived regulators measuring toxic emissions, adding Volkswagen could face fines of up to $18 billion as a result.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency said Friday that Volkswagen intentionally skirted clean air laws by using a piece of software that enabled about 500,000 of its diesel cars to emit fewer smog-causing pollutants during testing than in real-world driving conditions.
The agency ordered VW to fix the cars at its own expense. The German automaker also faces billions of dollars in fines, although exact amounts were not determined….
…The feature, which the EPA called a “defeat device”, masks the true emissions only during testing. When the cars are on the road they emit as much as 40 times the level of pollutants allowed under clean air rules meant to ensure public health is protected, Giles said.
Volkswagen has cheated before on environmental issues. Speculation that the decision to go “diesel” instead of catalytic converters may have led Volkswagen down a slippery path it could not return from leading to fraud. ….
Volkswagen’s current crisis has its roots in decisions made almost a decade ago. In 2007, it abandoned a pollution-control technology developed by Mercedes-Benz and Bosch and instead used internal technology.
At the same time, the determination by Mr. Winterkorn, the company’s hard-charging chief executive, to surpass Toyota put enormous strain on his managers to deliver growth in America.
To capture market share, Volkswagen, which also makes such brands as Audi and Porsche, would need to build the larger cars favored by Americans. But it would also need to comply with the Obama administration’s toughening standards on mileage. All automakers developed strategies to meet the new mileage rules, and diesel was a big part of Volkswagen’s plan. But diesel engines, while offering better mileage, also emit more smog-forming pollutants than conventional engines, so Volkswagen’s strategy ran head-on into American air pollution standards, which are stricter than those in Europe.
Cheating on emissions tests solved several issues at once. Not only were drivers rewarded with better mileage and performance, but the automaker also avoided more expensive and cumbersome pollution-control systems.