VW apologizes over emissions ‘cheat;’ fines could reach $18B
Volkswagen Group chief executive Martin Winterkorn has apologized for the alleged emissions ‘cheat’ outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency.
The company last week was accused of installing special software for its four-cylinder TDI diesel engine that only enabled certain emissions control systems when the vehicle was undergoing an emissions test.
“I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public,” said Winterkorn. “We do not and will not tolerate violations of any kind of our internal rules or of the law.”
The company promises to cooperate fully with any government investigations. It will also launch its own external investigation, though it has not yet announced specific details of the inquiry.
EPA tests showed that NOx emissions jumped to 10-40 times EPA-compliant levels when the ECM was running its standard ‘road calibration’ rather than the ‘dyno calibration’ activated during an emissions test.
VW has agreed to voluntarily recall affected models to fix the discrepancy. Consumer Reports has already delisted several VW models from its ‘recommended’ list, expecting that VW will likely have to reduce performance and/or fuel efficiency to meet EPA emissions guidelines. Some owners may not be able to easily dodge the recall, as California and some other sates require emissions-related recalls to be completed before passing inspection ahead of registration renewal.
Any affect on performance or fuel efficiency will likely result in a significant class-action lawsuit. VW Group also faces potential files of up to $37,500 per car, which extrapolates to $18 billion. A settlement is expected to be smaller, however it could still reach into the billions.