By on September 22, 2015

Michael Horn 51nbsp President und CEO der Volkswagen Group of America ab 1 Januar 2014Michael Horn, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, didn’t mince words last night during Volkswagen’s launch of the 2016 Passat midsize sedan, according to Automotive News.

At the vehicle launch in Brooklyn on Monday night, the executive said, “Our company was dishonest with the EPA, and the California Air Resources Board and with all of you. And in my German words: We have totally screwed up. We must fix the cars to prevent this from ever happening again and we have to make this right. This kind of behavior is totally inconsistent with our qualities.”

Volkswagen has opened themselves up to $18 billion in fines in the United States alone. Additional fines could be levied if the group’s 3.0-liter V-6 diesel engine is also found not to comply with EPA emissions regulations.

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58 Comments on “VW US Chief: “We Have Totally Screwed Up”...”


  • avatar
    210delray

    And so goes VW’s plan for world domination. I wouldn’t be surprised if Akio Toyoda is savoring this moment.

    You never know when karma will strike.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Possibly.

      The schadenfreude must be tempting, what with VW’s crowing about how they were so brilliant as to a) utterly failed in America, and thusly not had any sales to speak of to lose in 2008, and b) not have any presence in Japan to be washed away by a tsunami.

      VW was very lucky. What was galling was to see their executives trumpeting luck as brilliance. Personally, I’m enjoying watching this crow-eating contest.

    • 0 avatar
      LeeK

      One wonders why a company would want to hold the #1 title. All of the past three (GM, Toyota, now VW) have experienced almost instant scandals that brings shame and market share decline upon them. Maybe being Subaru or BMW is a good place to be in these cutthroat business.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    If they are going to replace Winterkorn, this is the sort of guy they should tap for the job. VW Corporate could use some people talking plainly, instead of continuing to dance around this issue. (Not to mention VW seems to persistently have zero clue whatsoever about the US market.)

    When VW Corporate is still talking about “clarifying irregularities in the software”, this guy is simply stating “Yep; we screwed up, we are in big trouble, and we deserve it.”

  • avatar

    OK, as a TDi owner, I’ll accept
    a) a bumper to bumper warranty for 150k, or
    b) a transferable (sellable) voucher for ANY VAG group product anywhere in the world for $5,000.00.

    what we’ll get is:

    Software that will gut the engine (I have learned too much about NOx in the last 48 hours), and…
    VW will be fined, and a few execs sent from Wolfsburg HQ to a brake parts factory in Hungary for a while.

    This makes me so upset I need to take my two stroke jetski out for a blast :)

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    TheTruthaboutVAG.com

  • avatar
    slavuta

    One would have image of Germans – punctual, well organized, black-and-white sort of people. Yea, right. Just as corrupt as everyone else. Even though, punctual. German engineering, Das Auto, yawol…

    • 0 avatar
      mazdaman007

      I originally posted this in one of the other VAG threads (are there any other kind these days) but I thought it was worth repeating.
      ___________________________________________________

      September 14, 2015

      http://motrolix.com/2015/09/volkswagen-group-ranked-most-sutainable-automotive-company-in-recent-study/

      “Sustainability investing group RobecoSAM AG has found Volkswagen Group to be the most sustainable automaker in the world in this year’s review of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI). This year’s review analyzed the performance of 33 different automotive companies, with VW topping all of them with a total of 91 of 100 possible ratings points.
      “This distinction is a great success for the entire team. It confirms that the Volkswagen Group is well on the way to establishing itself long term as the world’s most sustainable automaker,” said VW Group chairman Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn.
      VW was awarded 93 points in the sector of economic sustainability, 91 for social sustainability and 89 for ecological sustainability. It also received full marks in the areas of codes of conduct, compliance and anti-corruption as well as innovation management, climate strategy and life cycle assessment. RobecoSAM also found VW to be the industry benchmark for supplier management and environmental reporting.”

      Wow. What a difference a week makes.

  • avatar
    MrGrieves

    The only way to (potentially) fix the cars with NOx traps is to crank up the EGR system to absolute max via a software update, which will result in all the cars having their EGR systems plugged up with carbon / soot within 10,000 miles. But even that might not bring down NOx levels to acceptable, it might take a much larger NOx trap being installed, which will further sap performance. Or maybe an adBlue retrofit… what a headache.

    If they decide to go the EGR “to the max” route, I can see owners taking their cars in for annual EGR reaming-outs.

    • 0 avatar
      brettc

      I see an increasing market for Rawtek exhaust systems and DPF delete tunes. Which would totally go against what the EPA is trying to fix. But I can see it happening if the performance and economy take enough of a hit and people decide to keep their TDIs instead of trading them for a Honda. Nice that the VWoA guy admitted what we all know.

    • 0 avatar
      DeeDub

      Who would voluntarily bring their car in for such a “fix”? The TDIs already out there are going to stay just the way they are. This will only affect future VW diesel sales, and by “affect” I mean “obliterate”.

      • 0 avatar
        Maymar

        Odds are, any state that follows CARB will expect this recall to be performed to meet their ongoing emissions testing, right?

        On the other hand, if you live in a non-CARB state, you’ll probably be able to get a hell of a deal on a used TDI soon.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Good question, DeeDub, but given that these cars have to pass emissions and everyone’s wise to the game now, owners may not have a choice.

        And they’re going to be SERIOUSLY pissed.

  • avatar
    johnharris

    This is one for the books. I wonder how many thousands of graduate dissertations will be written on this example of VW’s corporate malfeasance.

    Most of the time this sort of scandal is simply tedious. Fines, executive wrist-slaps, a fresh challenge for the marketing department. But the scale of this deception will make the who-knew-what-and-when game worthy of a Michael Lewis book. A LOT of people had to be in on this.

    I’m an interested party. I bought a new 2015 GTI a month ago. Not affected by this particular calumny, but doesn’t do much for my confidence in the brand!

    Institutional mendacity seems to extend down to the level of the VW sales force: I remarked on the Soundaktor, “a device which pushes synthetic engine noise into the cabin by vibrating the front windshield” according to one online description. (The noises it creates are almost as stupid as the word “Soundaktor.”) The salesman assured me that such a thing did not exist and that the engine noise was authentic. He needs to note the 46,800 hits that “Soundaktor” gets on Google.

    The car is a pip to drive, though it was the first new car for which I’ve purchased an extended warranty. We’ll see how that gamble pays off. Based on the first 1600 miles I’m nevertheless delighted with my GTI.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      I’m four months into a lease on a 2015 GTI, and feel like a dodged a couple of bullets. I’d be worried about resale value across the VW brand, frankly.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        My first thought is just turn it in and thank your lucky stars its a lease not a buy, but if you like it offer them say 5K below the buyout because the brand is going to be radioactive for awhile (says the guy who is now slightly radioactive, quite a pun!).

        • 0 avatar
          Astigmatism

          I was thinking exactly the same thing. We’ll see how things look a couple of years hence. I’d offer them a buyout now, but given both the current news cycle and VW history, I’m planning on spending the entire three-year lease term making sure that my car actually runs the way it’s supposed to.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Offering them 5K below buyout isn’t going to work. If you want it, your residual figure is the price. During the lease, the buyout is whatever is left on your lease plus the residual (plus tax). I’ve had three different buyout transactions with VW Credit. All worked pretty much the same. They’ll just send it to auction or put it on their used lot instead of giving you a discount.

          • 0 avatar
            Astigmatism

            Well aware that that’s the business deal. But that doesn’t mean I can’t hope that VW residuals will be so torched that I can buy out my GTI lease at a huge discount.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I would hope for that too. Just remember that VW Credit isn’t the easiest bunch of folks to work with. That’s who you’d have to buy the car from.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            There a very good chance VW’s financial arm is going to take a bath on those leases. I don’t know sane dealers who touch VW, although I do know one insane one who does.

  • avatar
    Der_Kommissar

    So disappointing. So glad I bought a Mazda instead. Next car will be a BMW instead of VW.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Maybe that’s the real problem with Mazda’s diesel engine that they haven’t brought to North America. Mazda couldn’t figure out how to properly cheat on the test.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Well Mazda has had problems with their diesel engine all on their own. However, you are right, it wasn’t going to meet emissions here without being a dog of epic proportions.

  • avatar
    elimgarak

    I interviewed for a job at VWofA corp hq in VA in 2010 before declining to continue in the process. I didn’t like the feel I got for the place – seems like I was vindicated.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Michael Horn: “We have totally screwed up.”

    Says the man who’s almost certainly looking to jump ship.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Like, totally.

  • avatar
    Driver8

    Wow. What an about face from the previous boilerplate corporate non-apology of ‘mistakes were made’ and ‘were sorry that this happened’, et.al.

  • avatar
    John

    Micheal Horn is dissembling. A “screw up” implies a mistake. This was not a mistake. It was a deliberate crime.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I’m with John…this wasn’t a mistake, it was a massive fraud.

    I think they’re going to end up having to reimburse owners on this, in addition to whatever other legal penalties they’ll have to pay. The customers who bought these paid thousands of dollars extra for the diesel version, and they all got completely ripped off.

    What a disaster.

  • avatar
    210delray

    This is going to be like Watergate. Remember Richard “I am not a crook” Nixon?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      Ironically, he’s the one who gave us the EPA.

      Possibly he was the last truly progressive president in the US. Or at least the last president for whom progressivism was worth being concerned about.

  • avatar
    hachee

    I know that European and US market cars differ, but am I understanding this right in that it’s just US market cars in which this software is installed? Do European market cars spew 40 TIMES more NOx???

  • avatar
    dantes_inferno

    The Diesel automobile in the U.S. is now dead.

    I actually thought about buying one years ago, but the added complexity of Diesel engines in general effectively talked me out of a potential mistake.

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