Volkswagen Group has “broken the trust” of its customers in the USA by selling diesel cars fitted with software which allowed them to cut emissions specifically when being tested.
The German automotive giant has been accused by America’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of a deliberate attempt to evade rules on emissions.
The EPA has ordered Volkswagen Group to recall and fix 482,000 diesel cars at its own expense. It may also issue huge fines.
The EPA says Volkswagen Group sold diesel Volkswagens and Audis for the past seven years that were equipped with software that could detect when periodic state government emissions testing was taking place.
Only during such tests were the cars’ full emissions control systems turned on. During normal driving conditions, the controls were off, allowing the cars to produce emissions up to 40 times the permitted levels, the EPA said.
Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn has ordered an investigation and said the company will cooperate with regulators.
In a statement he added: “I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public.”
Sales halted in USA
Volkswagen has now stopped sales of 2015 and 2016 Audi and Volkswagen models fitted with four-cylinder turbodiesel engines which it has marked under the ‘clean diesel’ label, and said it will also prevent its dealers from selling used vehicles which have the engines.
EPA officials issued the car company with a notice of violation and said it had admitted to the use of a so-called defeat device.
It reduced the cars’ emission of nitrogen oxide during testing.