Volkswagen has instructed U.S. dealers to halt sales of 2015 diesel cars after regulators discovered software it designed for the affected vehicles gave false emissions data. The company now faces financial and criminal penalties.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Friday the company had installed illegal “defeat device” software to cheat emission tests. The software allowed its cars to produce up to 40 times more pollution than permitted. The EPA added that Volkswagen could face fines of up to $18 billion as a result.
In response Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkswagen said: “The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board revealed their findings that while testing diesel cars of the Volkswagen Group they have detected manipulations that violate American environmental standards.
“The Board of Management at Volkswagen AG takes these findings very seriously. I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public. We will cooperate fully with the responsible agencies, with transparency and urgency, to clearly, openly, and completely establish all of the facts of this case. Volkswagen has ordered an external investigation of this matter.
“We do not and will not tolerate violations of any kind of our internal rules or of the law.
“The trust of our customers and the public is and continues to be our most important asset. We at Volkswagen will do everything that must be done in order to re-establish the trust that so many people have placed in us, and we will do everything necessary in order to reverse the damage this has caused. This matter has first priority for me, personally, and for our entire Board of Management.”
The German economy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, called the scandal “a bad case” for the country’s car industry saying: “You will understand that we are worried that the justifiably excellent reputation of the German car industry and in particular that of Volkswagen suffers,” Gabriel said.