Automotive, Business

VW Executive Apologizes in Front of Congress

On Thursday, at a congressional hearing, the US Chief of Volkswagen came under fire as the investigation continues into the company’s admission that they had skirted the federal emission standards knowingly for years. The President of the automaker in the United States, Michael Horn said that they were deeply remorseful over the deception of the car manufacturer. However, lawmakers aren’t in any mood to accept an apology from the company to use a defeat device that had hoodwinked regulators via emission testing for years. The top Democrat heading the subcommittee, Colorado’s Diana DeGette said that it wasn’t revealed how the engine was affected by the device, how it could defeat testing and why it was installed.

She also said that the company hadn’t revealed when they would remove the device and fix the cars and if doing so would have any impact on the performance and fuel economy of the vehicles. She asserted that Volkswagen hadn’t disclosed the person who came up with the scheme in the first place, whether the 2014 voluntary recall motion was a ruse and what it had told regulators when the California regulators and Environmental Protection Agency demanded answers. Ms. DeGette said that they weren’t aware who was in on the scheme in the United States and Germany.

Around 480,000 cars in the US alone and about 11 million cars all over the world had been installed with engine software, also called defeat device, which could fool testers into believing that pollution standards were being met by some diesel vehicles. Mr. Horn said that he didn’t think that the Volkswagen Group could do something like this. He further added that the company had broken the trust of its employees, customers, regulators, dealerships and the public. Now, they would bear the responsibility of their mistake and cooperate with investigators. This wasn’t enough to mollify the lawmakers.

A Michigan Representative and head of the full committee on Energy and Commerce, Republican Fred Upton said that VW would have to pay a steep price for their secret as the investigation was just beginning and had a ways to go. He also said that the company could be keeping other secrets as well. A New Jersey Democrat, Frank Pallone questioned whether the auto industry could be trusted at all by the American people as he recounted recent scandals such as Toyota’s problems concerning acceleration, the exploding airbags issue with Takata and the faulty ignition switches of General Motors.

Volkswagen had admitted to messing with the emissions when testing was done. When it wasn’t messed with, the vehicles produced 40 times more emissions than was acceptable and this much nitrogen oxide could cause respiratory problems. The Congress hearing was held on the same day when the company’s headquarters in Wolfsburg and elsewhere were searched by German investigators. According to state prosecutors, they were searching for documents that could give them an idea of who was behind the scheme. An investigation has also been launched into employees based on complaints filed by various citizens on the suspicion of fraud.  

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