Volkswagen engineers in Germany are afraid to do business trips to the U.S. because one employee had his passport confiscated by U.S. investigators, reported Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany’s largest subscription daily newspaper, on Saturday.
The paper goes on to explain Volkswagen believes U.S. authorities want to question certain engineers and are preventing their exit from the country, and evasion of questioning, by confiscating their passports.
According to the same source who revealed to TTAC that Volkswagen will announce next week its “TDI Goodwill Program”, the automaker will also begin to roll out fixes for affected diesel emissions cars in the U.S. in February.
The fix, which was mentioned to dealers and communicated to dealer staff, will comprise of an ECU flash. The details of the ECU flash itself and the specific vehicles to which it will apply were not provided.
It was reported previously that different generations of the affected EA189 diesel engine could receive varying levels of correction, from ECU flashes to the installation of full urea-fed SCR systems. This ECU flash could be just one of two or three fixes for Volkswagen’s dirty diesels.
Volkswagen has supposedly earmarked $4 billion to fix their diesel cars and public reputation in the U.S., which includes money the automaker will use to fund the “TDI Goodwill Program”, said the source.
Update: Added background.
Volkswagen of America, in a bid to regain the trust of current diesel owners, will announce a prepaid card campaign on November 9, TTAC has learned.
The program, detailed to dealers Thursday in preparation of its public announcement, is aimed at current owners of affected TDI models regardless of whether they bought their car new or used.
Two prepaid cards will be offered to those TDI owners. The first one will be for $500 and has no restrictions on where it can be used. The second, which may be valued between $500 and $750, will be limited to use at Volkswagen dealerships.
Volkswagen dealers are scrambling to keep their customers happy amid the emissions scandal and one has decided to send a TDI eulogy to customers along with a sales pitch. According to a post on TDIClub, Beyer Volkswagen started sending out the slightly hilarious notice sometime this week.
The cover shows a SportWagen with a 2015 date of death for TDI Clean Diesel technology. Directly opposite the picture is an apology that would seem fitting if it came from from an abusive spouse telling their significant other they are kind of sorry but it’ll be different next time. Promise.
Officials from Volkswagen will meet Thursday with the Environmental Protection Agency to explain to regulators how a “temperature conditioning” mode isn’t illegal, Reuters reported ( via Automotive News).
“(Auxiliary Emission Control Device) software does not alter emissions levels, but it ensures after a cold start (of the engine) that the catalytic converters quickly reach their working temperature and emissions cleaning takes effect,” VW said, according to Reuters.
In its notification to the automaker Monday, officials from the EPA specifically outlined how a “temperature conditioning” mode, specifically timed to the length of the EPA’s initial tests, reduced emissions up to nine times in cars equipped with VW’s 3-liter diesel engine.
Ferdinand Piëch, the man who ruled Volkswagen like the king of a Teutonic fiefdom, was likely the cause of the diesel scandal that’s erased billions of dollars of value from Volkswagen as it looks down the barrel of a gun loaded with further billions of dollars worth of recall work, fines and law suits.
Or, at least, that’s the claim made by Bob Lutz.
Former auto industry executive Lutz called Piëch’s leadership style “a reign of terror” before saying “The guy was absolutely brutal,” in his latest piece for Road & Track.
Tell us what you really think, Bob.
German authorities said Wednesday that they would retest all Volkswagen cars — regardless of engine type or brand — for emissions compliance, Reuters reported.
German transportation minister Alexander Dobrindt expressed his “irritation” with the automaker that more cars were being added to the deepening scandal. On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency notified the automaker that some of its 3-liter diesel models may contain an illegal “defeat device” to fool emissions tests.
Volkswagen on Monday said that internal testing revealed 800,000 Volkswagen cars may emit more carbon dioxide than reported and could cost the company $2.1 billion more in penalties.
New CEO Matthias Müller apologized for the deception.
“The Board of Management of Volkswagen AG deeply regrets this situation and wishes to underscore its determination to systematically continue along the present path of clarification and transparency,” he said in a statement.
The EPA notified Volkswagen yesterday that certain models equipped with the 3-liter diesel engine were in violation of emissions regulations by being equipped with a defeat device. The list of affected models does not contain a range of production years as with the previous models that were found to be in violation, but only one specific year for each model.
Owners and enthusiasts are puzzled that the only year of the Touareg listed as affected is 2014 since the model did not change much from the preceding year. One theory is that the EPA has not listed all of the affected models yet and that more would be affected in the future.
Responding to the Environmental Protection Agency’s notification that it had uncovered an illegal “defeat device” in some 3-liter, diesel Audi, Volkswagen and Porsche models, Volkswagen AG said in a statement Monday that it “wishes to emphasize that no software has been installed in the 3-liter V6 diesel power units to alter emissions characteristics in a forbidden manner.”
The statement flies in the face of the EPA’s allegation that a “temperature conditioning” mode in the vehicles’ computers timed exactly to the length of the agency’s 75 initials emissions tests allowed the cars to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides by up to 9 times.
The Environmental Protection Agency notified Volkswagen on Monday that cars equipped with 3-liter diesel engines included an illegal “defeat device” designed to cheat emissions tests, broadening the already damning scanda l for the automaker.
The cars included on the notification were the 2014 Touareg, 2015 Porsche Cayenne Diesel and 2016 models of the Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L and Q5.
“Volkswagen has once again failed its obligation to comply with the law that protects clean air for all Americans,” Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the EPA said.
On her weekly podcast, German Prime Minister Angela Merkel said Volkswagen’s scandal hasn’t harmed the German automobile industry’s image, but that the automaker would need to conduct its investigation with transparency to restore faith in the country’s industry.
“A lot will depend on how Volkswagen deals with the issue,” Merkel said, according to Reuters.
Separately, sources told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung ( via Reuters) that the automaker, under pressure from investigators, is offering amnesty to employees who reveal what they knew about its cheating devices. Amnesty won’t apply to top-level managers, according to the report.
Volkswagen told dealers that it would buy back some of its unsellable, used diesel cars withering on their lots at fixed prices to help dealers cope during the automaker’s growing diesel scandal, Automotive News reported.
The cars that dealers are accepting on trade-in, but can’t sell due to their illegally polluting engines, have sat on lots while the automaker develops its plan to fix 482,000 cars sold in the U.S. with the illegal “defeat device.” Volkswagen has offered a $2,000 “loyalty discount” for any Volkswagen trade-in, including diesel cars.
I love you, unicorn.
A TTAC reader spotted this 2016 Volkswagen Passat Alltrack roaming the streets of Phoenix the other day and dutifully reported “What the hell is that?”
This Passat wagon, which is sold overseas, may be the only one in the States. It’s wearing manufacturer tags and likely just had its way with VW’s massive testing circuit in Phoenix.
Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey on Thursday sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asking the agency to re-evaluate millions of fuel economy credits awarded to the automaker by the agency for cheating diesel cars.
The letter, which was addressed to Administrator Mark Rosekind, outlined the automaker’s exceedingly fuel efficient fleet average from 2008, which now could be in jeopardy after the automaker admitted it cheated emissions tests and could impact those cars’ mileage.
Volkswagen will still invest $900 million in its Chattanooga, Tennessee plant despite company-wide cost cutting from its diesel disaster, the automaker announced Thursday.
The company had long planned on a mid-size, three-row SUV to compete in the U.S.. However, those plans were upended when the Environmental Protection Agency announced in September that Volkswagen’s diesels had been illegally polluting, and the company shed billions from its value in following days.
The three-row SUV, which may follow closely Volkswagen’s CrossBlue Concept, was announced last year for the Tennessee plant. Volkswagen said it would begin building the SUV at the end of 2016.
Speaking for the first time as Volkswagen chief, newly hired CEO Matthias Müller outlined his plan for the automaker’s future in the wake of a growing scandal for its illegally polluting cars.
Müller’s five-point plan includes a significant overhaul of the automaker’s plan to be the world’s largest automaker by 2018. According to Volkswagen, its Strategy 2025 plan — which replaces the Strategy 2018 outline — will be unveiled next year. In its earlier plan, Volkswagen had prioritized 10 million sales by 2018, 8-percent profitability and to position the automaker as “a global economic and environmental leader,” according to the automaker’s plan.
Volkswagen could significantly overhaul its U.S. operations — including not selling diesel models in the country — after it has dealt with federal and civil claims stemming from its massive diesel cheating scandal, Reuters reported.
The report, which quoted two sources familiar with the automaker’s plans, said replacing North American chief Winfried Vahland, who quit after three weeks, would happen after the automaker has reached an agreement over its illegally polluting cars.
Volkswagen will post Wednesday its first quarterly loss in 15 years after the automaker was rocked this summer with a scandal that affected 11 million vehicles and cost the company tens of billions of dollars in lost value already.
Bloomberg (via Automotive News) reported that 10 analysts estimated that the company would post a $3.6 billion loss for the quarter ending Sept. 30.
Although the company said it reserved more than $7 billion to help pay for the scandal, many agree that the loss will be far greater — from $16 billion to $86 billion.
Investigators at Volkswagen are not only looking for the culprits who installed illegal emissions cheating software into their cars, but they’re also looking for managers who didn’t immediately report the devices as well, the New York Times reported.
Up to 10 managers and engineers could be suspended by the automaker for the scandal so far, including top-level executives.
According to the New York Times, investigators have been keen to learn who knew what within the automaker, and how quickly those findings were reported.
The investigation by U.S. firm Jones Day could take months, according to the report. A person who was briefed on the inquiry told the newspaper what investigators were looking for.
Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn told congressional investigators he was made aware of a potential problem in the spring of 2014, but wasn’t aware of illegal software until Sept. 2015.
Volkswagen may discount new car purchases for diesel car owners trading in their illegally polluting cars, German news agency DPA ( via Reuters) reported.
The discount would apply to older 1.6-liter models, according to the report, which would need more significant fixes than many other cars. According to Reuters, roughly 2.4 million cars in Germany are affected by the diesel scandal that has cost the automaker billions so far.
In America, more than 350,000 diesel cars would need significant fixes, according to Volkswagen of America chief Michael Horn. In the States and Canada, Volkswagen offers a “loyalty discount” to returning Volkswagen buyers. So far, the diesel discount only applies to cars in Germany.
Thomas Sedran, former interim head of Opel and General Motors’ European chief for Cadillac and Chevrolet brands, will join embattled automaker Volkswagen as head of group strategy, according to the automaker.
Sedran was head of Opel in 2012 when that automaker shuttered a plant in Bochum, Germany. Sedran was president and managing director of Cadillac and Chevrolet brands in Europe until June, when he joined global consulting firm Accenture.
According to Volkswagen, Sedran will take over Nov. 1 and report directly to new CEO Matthias Müller.
German business magazine Manager Magazin reported Saturday (via Reuters) that managerial promotions may be frozen beginning next year as the company looks to save money wherever it can amid the diesel scandal.
The company may also re-use as many parts possible when developing the eighth-generation Volkswagen Golf in order to cut costs.
The United Auto Workers union could make its first real break into the southern U.S. by unionizing 165 “skilled trade” maintenance workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant, reported the Associated Press (via The Detroit News).
UAW Local 42 represents some workers at Volkswagen Chattanooga but does not have exclusive bargaining rights at the plant. A new election for union representation, which is being requested by maintenance workers at the plant, would give Local 42 exclusive bargaining rights for those workers.
The effort is part of a “renewed collective bargaining push” unrelated to the diesel emissions scandal, union officials told the AP.
The last election saw the UAW defeated in a 712-626 vote.
According to Kelley Blue Book, auction prices for Volkswagen’s diesels cars are dropping faster than similar models that are powered by gasoline.
According to auction data gathered before and after news broke that Volkswagen had admitted to federal investigators that their cars illegally polluted, prices for Volkswagen diesel cars dropped 16 percent. Prices for Volkswagen gasoline cars only dipped 2.9 percent over the same period.
According to the car industry site, interest on the Volkswagen diesel models has only declined 2.4 percent.
Complaints filed against Volkswagen of America are using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act to allege that the automaker knowingly committed fraud across state lines, court documents show.
The law, which was created in the 1970s to take down the U.S. mafia, could have serious ramifications for Volkswagen, who admitted that its cars illegally polluted.
Accusing the automaker of violating RICO Act would mean that lawsuits against the automaker could be more lucrative and amplify damage to the automaker.
Volkswagen is offering up to double the average amount of incentives on some of its cars to help dealers during its diesel crisis, Bloomberg reported ( via Automotive News).
Dealers, who received no-strings-attached cash from Volkswagen at the beginning of this month, are offering up to 11 percent off their cars’ stickers to help weather the storm of its diesel cheating scandal. The industry average is roughly 6.2 percent according to TrueCar.
Volkswagen said Thursday that early versions of its EA 288 engines could have been equipped with the illegal emissions software at the heart of its diesel scandal, Reuters reported (via Automotive News).
The revelation would largely affect European cars, and could potentially expand the list of 11 million cars Volkswagen will be forced to recall this year.
U.S. cars using the “Generation 3” engine, which include 2015 models of the Volkswagen Golf, Jetta, Beetle and Passat and Audi A3, were already included in the stop-sale and notification by the Environmental Protection Agency.
Volkswagen has suspended its chief of quality control for “incriminating correspondence” it found regarding its illegally polluting diesel cars, German newspaper Bild (via Automotive News) reported Wednesday. Tuch was suspended last week, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Frank Tuch is the fifth high-ranking official suspended from Volkswagen because of the scandal. According to reports, Tuch wasn’t part of the company when it developed the EA 189 engines that have become the center of the cheating scandal. The former Lotus COO and Porsche quality control officer may have known about the illegal software after he joined the company in 2010.
“What brings you to Vermont?” asked the young woman I was sitting beside on my flight to Burlington to drive the newly refreshed Passat.
“Volkswagen,” I replied simply.
After a pause, and with an eyebrow raised, she came back with the question: “Diesel?”
This is how every conversation about Volkswagen will start for years to come. And, to be fair, it’s also how we’ve talked about Volkswagen for the last 20 years — minus the eyebrow. Volkswagen is as intrinsically connected with diesel as Vermont is to small-town values that border on being Canadianesque.
Except now, conversations about Volkswagen diesels are punctuated with that eyebrow — and for all the wrong reasons.
Weeks after European Audi owners could look to see if their cars were affected by the Volkswagen cheating scandal, Volkswagen of America added a VIN lookup to its diesel scandal site (which is buried by Google) for U.S. owners, Auto Guide reported.
The service redirects to Volkswagen’s recall site, where owners can enter their vehicle’s VIN. During congressional testimony Oct. 8, VW of America chief Michael Horn admitted that the U.S. site didn’t include the VIN tool and agreed with representatives who said it would be a “good idea” to include that for American customers.
Investigators in France seized documents and office equipment from Volkswagen offices there in connection with its inquiry into the automaker’s admission that it cheated emissions tests.
The raid, which happened on Friday, wasn’t reported until Sunday, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Investigators in Germany and Italy have already seized documents from Volkswagen’s respective headquarters in those countries relating to the scandal, which affects more than 11 million cars worldwide.
Reuters reported that sources within Volkswagen and its ongoing investigation have said the automaker created multiple versions of its “defeat device” to cheat emissions tests.
The news agency said a manager within Volkswagen and an official close to the external investigation ordered by the automaker have revealed the multiple programs, which were developed for four different engine types.
If true, the multiple emissions programs could indicate a widespread cheating program — stretching nearly a decade — that could have needed funding to continue, which would be in stark contrast to the “rogue engineer” explanation offered by executives so far.
An investor and analyst argued in column that appears in the New Yorker that Volkswagen engineers may have rationalized illegal behavior by incrementally cheating up to the infamous levels uncovered by researchers last year.
Using the catastrophic failure of the space shuttle Challenger as an example, Paul Kedrosky wrote that “normalization of deviance” could have led Volkswagen engineers to systemically cheat on emissions in the same way engineers rationalized colder and colder launches for the space shuttle until it finally disintegrated in 1986 because of failed, cold o-rings.
It’s more likely that the scandal is the product of an engineering organization that evolved its technologies in a way that subtly and stealthily, even organically, subverted the rules.
Volkswagen will bring the next-generatrion Golf Cabrio to the U.S., the first time since 2002, Car and Driver reported.
The next-generation convertible will be based on the Mark VII Golf and arrive sometime in 2017, according to the report. The Golf Cabrio fill the gap left by the Eos when that ends production — eventually.
The Golf Cabrio has been on sale in other markets, but has been absent from the U.S. lineup for more than a decade. The Golf Cabrio can be equipped with four different gasoline engines and two different diesel options worldwide, although the diesel option probably won’t be making an appearance.
Volkswagen announced Friday that Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt would join the embattled automaker from a similar post at Daimler after receiving approval from that automaker’s board of directors.
The Daimler board member and former judge will join Volkswagen on its Board for Integrity and Legal Affairs to help the automaker clean up its severely tarnished image after it admitted it had cheated emissions tests on more than 11 million cars worldwide. From Daimler:
In the interests of the Good Corporate Governance of the German automotive industry, the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Daimler AG has agreed to this request after consultation with the Presidential Committee of the Supervisory Board, after Compliance is anchored firmly at Daimler and its corporate culture.
(Emphasis mine on the sick, corporate burn.)
Volkswagen Group will recall 8.5 million vehicles in the European Union’s 28 member states, including the 2.4 million vehicles it is already being forced to recall by the KBA, Germany’s transportation authority, the automaker announced Thursday.
Vehicles from the Volkswagen, Audi, Seat and Skoda brands are included in the recall. The latest EA 288 diesel engine is not part of the recall.
Volkswagen said it will begin to rollout fixes in January 2016.
The Federal Trade Commission will join the U.S. Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency in investigating claims that Volkswagen cheated consumers and regulators with bogus emissions claims of its diesel cars, Politico reported (via Bloomberg).
The FTC’s inquiry will focus on whether the German automaker lied to consumers about “clean diesel” claims in its advertisements when, in fact, the cars were engineered to deceive emissions tests.
The FTC, Justice Department and EPA’s investigations also joins an investigation by the U.S. Senate Finance committee on whether the automaker illegally obtained $50 million in federal subsidies through car buyers who purchased its cars and received the lean-burn technology motor vehicle credit.
German transportation authority KBA on Thursday ordered the mandatory recall of 2.4 million Volkswagen cars with illegally polluting diesel engines, in part, because the German automaker’s proposed timetable wasn’t fast enough, Automotive News reported.
The forced recall will mean Volkswagen would likely spend more to fix its cars faster and German officials have told the automaker to submit a proposed fix by the end of November. Volkswagen initially planned for a voluntary recall to begin next year.
Authorities in Switzerland and Austria followed Germany and announced the forced recall would apply to those cars too, Bloomberg reported.
German magazine Der Spiegel reported Wednesday that at least 30 Volkswagen insiders and managers had knowledge of the illegal “defeat device” and there may be more.
The claim would somewhat refute to what Volkswagen of America chief Michael Horn testified in front of a congressional subcommittee last week when he told representatives that “a couple of software engineers” at Volkswagen in Germany were responsible for the the scandal that has cost the company billions of dollars.
Volkswagen hired U.S. firm Jones Day to conduct an external investigation while the company inquires internally how engineers installed software on 11 million diesel cars that would cheat emissions tests.
Chairman of Škoda Prof. Dr. Winfried Vahland, who was tapped to lead a new North American Volkswagen region, will be leaving the Volkswagen Group, it was announced Wednesday.
Vahland will not be taking the N.A. role which would have given him the responsibility of overseeing the U.S., Canadian and Mexican markets.
“Differing views on the organisation of the new Group region have led to this decision,” Škoda said in a release on Wednesday, though the automaker was careful to point out that “this decision is expressly not related to current events on the issue of diesel engines.”
A replacement for Vahland in North America has not yet been announced.
According to one Chattanooga factory worker on the TDI Club forum, Volkswagen is ramping up production of the new Passat TDI despite not being certified by the Environmental Protection Agency regarding its emissions.
The new 2016 Passat, which will launch later this year, is equipped with three different engines — a 1.8-liter turbocharged and a 3.6-liter V-6 gasoline engines, and a 2-liter diesel engine. The poster said those cars already built and equipped with the TDI engine are missing significant portions of their front fascia as they come off the assembly line.
The Passats in question are missing headlights, grilles and front bumpers, said the poster.
Standard & Poor’s downgraded Volkswagen’s rating on long-term debt Monday, and said the company’s diesel scandal indicates poor management. The financial agency further warned that its debt rating could be cut further if the automaker doesn’t immediately address the deepening scandal, Bloomberg reported (via Automotive News).
“VW has demonstrated material deficiencies in its management and governance and general risk-management framework,” Alex Herbert, a London-based analyst at S&P, said according to Bloomberg. “VW’s internal controls have been shown to be inadequate in preventing or identifying alleged illegal behavior.” Further damage and other violations “represents a significant reputational and financial risk.”
A study commissioned by Bloomberg, conducted by Stout Risius Ross, revealed that Volkswagen’s rate of injury or fatal crashes reported by the automaker was significantly lower than 11 other automakers and nine times less than the industry average.
“The data demonstrates that even on a fleet-adjusted basis, the number of reported incidents by Volkswagen is significantly below what one would expect based on those reported by other automakers,” Neil Steinkamp, a Stout Risius managing director, told Bloomberg. “They are also significantly below the reporting of automakers that have already been cited for non-compliance.”
The report calls into question whether Volkswagen has been accurately reporting crashes, as required by law. Volkswagen didn’t comment on the report.
Volkswagen’s chief in the United Kingdom told representatives Monday that cars in that country likely wouldn’t need expensive urea tanks retrofitted to those cars to comply with emissions standards, AutoCar reported.
Volkswagen UK managing director Paul Willis told members of parliament that most of the 1.2 million cars in that country fitted with illegal “defeat devices” to cheat emissions tests would only need a software fix and not an additional urea tank that is widely believed to be needed in U.S. cars. About 400,000 cars would need a fuel injector replacement instead of the costly tank.
It’s likely that many of the cheating Volkswagens in the U.S. would need all or a combination of three fixes — software update, fuel injectors and a urea tank — to bring those cars into compliance.
Back in 2014, Volkswagen of America and Volkswagen Canada announced that 2015 would be the final year of the Eos. In the U.S. that meant the Final Edition trim replaced the Sport trim between the Komfort and Executive trims. In Canada, a Wolfsburg Edition was the only trim offered — effectively a Highline at the price of a Comfortline.
So, why is there now a 2016 Volkswagen Eos being offered in the U.S. for $4,000 less than before?
Update: Official statement from EPA.
During his voluntary testimony for a congressional committee Thursday, Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn announced the company would withdraw their application for emissions certification for 2016 model year Volkswagens powered by 2-liter diesel engines.
However, the reason for that withdrawal is not directly related to the “defeat device” that’s been at the center of the ongoing diesel controversy.
There has been a lot of coverage recently devoted to that scandal where Volkswagen revealed that its vehicles have been polluting like a chemical company that dumps out its waste in poor neighborhoods late at night.
But this scandal seems to have taken our eye off the Volkswagen ball. I say this because the whole “cheating on diesel” thing is not Volkswagen’s only issue. It is merely one of a myriad of problems that has launched the brand into the mediocre, also-ran position where they find themselves in America today. And right now, I’m here to remind you of the largest of these problems: that they spend their money on absolutely the wrong things.
The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change in Ontario, Canada, has launched an official investigation into Volkswagen Canada and Audi Canada regarding their roles in the ongoing diesel emissions scandal that affects some 35,000 vehicles in the province, the ministry announced Wednesday.
The investigation is related to possible violations under Ontario’s Environmental Protection Act that prohibits the sale of vehicles that do not meet emissions standards.
(But, why is there a picture of a Chevrolet Silverado painted in army green at the top? Hold on. We’ll get there.)
A former federal official and the Environmental Protection Agency said that German supplier Bosch didn’t supply Volkswagen — or other automakers — with cheating software, implying that Volkswagen engineers acted alone in deceiving emission tests, Reuters reported (via Automotive News).
According to the report, Bosch supplies the engine control management unit for most four-cylinder diesel passenger cars, including Mercedes-Benz, BMW and others. Both BMW and Mercedes have said their cars do not have software that cheats emission tests.
Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn told a congressional committee Thursday that the fixed diesel cars would achieve the fuel economy figures advertised on the cars when they were purchased as new.
“We know we can fix these vehicles to achieve emissions standards,” Horn said.
Horn said that performance such as horsepower and torque for the cars could be impacted, but by keeping those cars at or above advertised mileage, the carmaker could mitigate damage brought by forthcoming class-action and federal lawsuits.
Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn testified to a congressional committee Thursday that he wasn’t aware until last month of the illegal “defeat device” installed on nearly 500,000 cars in the U.S. — approximately 11 million worldwide — and that the car company could take several years to fix its cars.
Horn testified in front of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce’s subcommittee for oversight and investigations for more than two hours.
“I would like to offer a sincere apology for Volkswagen’s use of a software program that served to defeat the regular emissions testing regime,” Horn said in a prepared response before answering questions from representatives.
Volkswagen offices and private residences were raided Thursday morning in Wolfsburg as part of the ongoing investigation into the company’s emission scheme that saw “defeat devices” used in its 2.0-liter diesel vehicles, reports German media outlet HAZ.
A team of approximately 50 task force personnel from the Lower Saxony’s office of criminal investigation raided multiple locations to gather evidence on those involved in the scandal.
This will likely come as a bit of a surprise to those of you who get your news through glass bottles tossed into the ocean and carried by persistent currents to the remote island on which you’ve been stranded by the crash of your FedEx plane, but Volkswagen is in a little bit of trouble due to some questions about diesel emissions. I think it’s a safe bet that the fellow I saw on Route 71 the other day with “TDI LOVE” as the license plate on his Jetta isn’t feelin’ it.
While the New New Beetle — now called just Beetle — was available as a TDI prior to the current kerfuffle, the version that I rented on Monday is powered by the same turbocharged gasoline engine that I liked in the Jetta TSI earlier this year. As tested, it’s $22,615.
So, should you buy one?
In a prepared statement released ahead of congressional testimony Thursday, Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn said the automaker knew of emissions issues last spring when West Virginia University researchers published findings that the automaker’s cars were illegally polluting. (Emphasis mine.)
In the spring of 2014 when the West Virginia University study was published, I was told that there was a possible emissions non-compliance that could be remedied. I was informed that EPA regulations included various penalties for non-compliance with the emissions standards and that the agencies can conduct engineering tests which could include “defeat device” testing or analysis. I was also informed that the company engineers would work with the agencies to resolve the issue.
(Should have followed up a little more on that email, probably.)
Volkswagen lobbied hard in 2011 to receive the same — or higher — clean vehicle credits as electric cars, the New York Times reported Wednesday.
“They wanted a special deal for diesel cars that we now know weren’t even meeting the standard,” Margo Oge, a former director of the E.P.A. Office of Transportation and Air Quality, told the New York Times.
The LA Times reported that roughly $51 million in credits was paid by taxpayers in 2009 for diesel cars that lied about mileage and emissions — essentially a cheap bar trick.
Volkswagen’s supervisory board confirmed its appointment of Hans Dieter Pötsch to its top seat during a scandal rocking the 78-year-old automaker, the company announced Wednesday.
Pötsch said he would continue the investigation as chairman:
I will do my utmost to uncover the full truth of what happened. I am firmly resolved to make my contribution so that Volkswagen can win back the trust of customers, the public, investors and business partners. And I believe my central task is to play my part in guiding Volkswagen towards a successful future.
Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller told German authorities that the company would begin recalling cars in Europe in January and that fixes those cars take roughly one year to complete, Automotive News reported.
Müller told German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that the company found 9.5 million affected cars, not 11 million, that would need to be fixed. Müller didn’t specify what the fixes for cars would be, but said that the company was preparing “thousands” of solutions for its cars that cheated emission tests. Müller said the company would replace cars in certain circumstances.
It’s unclear when recalls for the 482,000 cars in the U.S. would start.
A Volkswagen of America spokesman said Tuesday that electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid cars would be a “key part” of the automaker’s research and development strategy after CEO Matthias Müller told 20,000 workers in Wolfsburg that it would postpone or cancel other projects that weren’t critical to sales.
“Electrification, whether full EV, PHEV, or HEV, is a key part of our strategy long term in order to meet worldwide (greenhouse gas) targets,” a Volkswagen spokesman told TTAC on Tuesday.
In 2014, Volkswagen spent $13.5 billion on research and development — more than any other company in all sectors. However, that budget could be severely restricted as the automaker prepares to pay billions for software that cheated emissions tests.
Volkswagen could be looking for ways to not repeat history, when a 1960s lawsuit from Tatra crippled development well into the 1980s.