Volkswagen Chief Apologizes for Breach of Trust After Recall

20 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Cars recall: Volkswagen to probe emissions allegations.

Volkswagen admitted to intentionally cheating the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act standards in over 500,000 of their diesel-powered cars. Volkswagen chief, Martin Winterkorn, promised on Sunday a full investigation into allegations that the vehicle company manipulated emissions testing on its cars in the United States. “I personally deeply regret that we have let down the trust of our customers and the public and I am addressing the issue as an utmost priority,” Winterkorn said.

Environmental Protection Agency that the German car maker deliberately manipulated nearly half a million cars sold since 2008 to get around U.S. air-pollution rules. The cars in question “contained software that turns off emissions controls when driving normally and turns them on when the car is undergoing an emissions test,” Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, explained to Reuters. “Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health,” Giles said in a press release by the EPA. “…EPA is committed to making sure that all automakers play by the same rules. The diesel-powered models from 2009-2015 are the VW Jetta, Beetle and Golf, the Passat model from 2014-15, and the Audi A3 from 2009 to 2015. “We do not and will not tolerate violations of any kind of our internal rules or of the law,” Winterkorn said, adding the company was fully co-operating with the relevant agencies. EPA will continue to investigate these very serious matters.” California has issued a separate violation to Volkswagen and plans to work alongside the EPA and Justice Department for further investigation. The probe should not take long, investigators say, because the company has already admitted that this isn’t simply an oversight. “We have admitted to it…It is true,” a spokesman for Volkswagen said Sunday.

The 2.0 liter TDI—turbo direct injection—is Volkswagen’s “clean diesel” engine and is commonly used in models such as VW’s Golf, Jetta, Passat, Beetle and the A3 luxury compact made by VW’s Audi AG NSU -1.05 % . VW must recall all the cars, remove the defeat device and improve the cars’ NOx emissions, which creates smog and has been linked to increased asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses. The EPA’s move is a further step in an Obama administration crackdown on auto makers suspected of flouting regulations intended to reduce tailpipe emissions, and comes at a critical time for Volkswagen, which is struggling to reinvigorate its flagging U.S. business. The feature, which the EPA called a “defeat device”, masks the true emissions only during testing and therefore 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. In Europe, new laws have forced manufacturers to test their cars under real world conditions and not in laboratories, helping to reduce unrealistic claims about emissions.

We would see criminal prosecution,” Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program at Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, told the New York Times. By 2017 all new cars will have to be more stringently tested, effectively ending an era when car makers could exaggerate the performance of their machines.

UK car industry group the SMMT claims that, because of European legislation to cut tailpipe pollution, Britain’s air quality is better now than it has been for centurie In an effort to improve US sales, the German automaker continuously bragged of their cars as a “clean, fuel efficient and powerful” diesel option. HYMLY -0.01 % and Kia Motors Corp. 000270 -0.57 % with a record $100 million penalty for overstating fuel-economy claims and forced the companies to cough up another $200 million in regulatory credits.

An EPA spokeswoman said it would be “premature to speculate on why VW did this.” A Volkswagen spokesman in Wolfsburg, Germany, said “We are now in the investigation phase and have no comment beyond what is in the statement that we published today.” The cars include so-called clean-diesel vehicles marketed for impressive fuel economy without sacrificing driving performance. The International Council on Clean Transportation, a nonprofit research organization that works with governments to cut air pollution from mobile sources, and West Virginia University researchers uncovered Volkswagen’s alleged use of defeat devices in research and testing over the last couple of years. Matt DeLorenzo, a managing editor at automotive information supplier Kelley Blue Book’s, said the EPA’s allegations could hinder auto makers’ efforts to meet the fuel-economy regulations, since diesels deliver mileage gains without the expense of electric motors and battery packs found on hybrids.

Auto makers are seizing on a coming 2017 review of the standards with regulators, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in the hopes of relaxing some requirements. Consumer Reports, an influential magazine when it comes to car reviews, last week suspended its “recommended” ratings on the auto maker’s Jetta and Passat diesel-engine models after the EPA disclosed its allegations.

Falling gasoline prices have buyers flocking to gas-guzzling pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles, and are calling into question whether car makers can meet the emissions and fuel-economy targets. GM -2.56 % admitted to criminal wrongdoing and agreed to pay a $900 million penalty in the mishandling of a defective ignition switch linked to more than 100 deaths in a settlement with the Justice Department unveiled Thursday.

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