Volkswagen issues sales halt, CEO apologizes on emissions cheating

September 21 00:17 2015

Volkswagen’s CEO said he is “deeply sorry” for violating U.S. emissions standards and ordered an external investigation on Sunday, two days after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accused the automaker of purposefully manipulating emissions tests for some 500,000 vehicles. The German automaker also ordered its U.S. dealerships to stop selling cars impacted by the probe until its engineers can deliver a

The EPA has accused Volkswagen of installing software on 482,000 diesel cars in the U.S. that allowed it to cheat emissions tests, potentially exposing people to harmful pollutants at levels of 40 times the acceptable standard and respiratory conditions such as asthma. “I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public,” Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagon’s CEO said in a statement. “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,” said Winterkorn, who pledged to regain the public’s trust.

The violations could expose Volkswagon — the world’s largest vehicle manufacturer through the first six months of 2015 — to up to $18 billion in federal fines if the EPA assesses the maximum possible penalty of $37,500 per vehicle. The violations could also invite charges of false marketing by regulators, a vehicle recall and payment to car owners, either voluntarily or through lawsuits. Volkswagen advertised the cars under the “Clean Diesel” moniker. The state of California is also investigating the emissions violations.

The EPA has accused the German automaker of adopting what it gas called a “defeat device” to trick U.S. regulators into believing that its cars met Clean Air Act standards for nitrogen oxides. Volkswagen admitted to investigators that it had installed the defeat device, the EPA said. The EPA said impacted cars include the 2009 to 2014 Volkswagen Jetta, Beetle and Golf, the 2014 and 2015 Volkswagen Passat, and the 2009 to 2015 Audi A3.