Officials from Volkswagen and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency met Wednesday for the first time to discuss the growing rift between the automaker and regulators on how to fix the automaker’s illegally polluting cars. An EPA spokeswoman issued the following statement:
“We appreciated the conversation with Volkswagen. We will continue to work toward a solution.”
Which, I know: It’s technically longer than a haiku, but 14 words still doesn’t say a lot — and yet it says so much.
Just 14 words to sum up whatever was said by Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy at Wednesday’s meeting leaves open a lot of room for interpretation, and the EPA’s short statement underlines a curiously developing relationship between regulators and automaker.
Müller has publicly apologized several times — for misunderstanding the law, apparently — but he’s has been famously unflinching in fessing up too much, which was evident in November when they initially disagreed that their 3-liter cars were cheating. On the other end, the EPA has issued increasingly unfriendly statements since announcing in September that hundreds of thousands of cars were illegally polluting.
(Just listening to the September call when the EPA said Volkswagen admitted cheating in its 2-liter cars, to the November call when it said the 3-liter cars were cheating, to December’s deadline extension, to January’s lawsuit filing, to Wednesday’s 14-word statement, a souring relationship looks likely.)
On Monday, Volkswagen affirmed that it would right its wrong and that it would work with the EPA and CARB:
“We know we deeply disappointed our customers, the responsible government bodies, and the general public here in the US. I apologize for what went wrong at Volkswagen,” Müller said in a statement: “We are totally committed to making things right.”
An official from the EPA didn’t comment on the agency’s relationship with the automaker. Volkswagen didn’t immediately comment on the EPA’s statement.
Which says a lot.