Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 21st 2015 Contents A18
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, September 21, 2015
WASHINGTON---The CEO of Volkswagen apologised
yesterday and VW customers said they felt duped
after the Environmental Protection Agency revealed
that the German automaker skirted clean air rules
by rigging emissions tests for about 500,000 diesel
"I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken
the trust of our customers and the public," Volkswagen
chief Martin Winterkorn said in a statement. He said
VW has ordered an investigation and promised that
the company would cooperate with regulators.
The US Environmental Protection Agency said Friday
that Volkswagen intentionally skirted clean air laws by
using a piece of software that enabled about 500,000
of its diesel cars to emit fewer smog-causing pollutants
during testing than in real-world driving conditions.
The agency ordered VW to fix the cars at its own
expense. The German automaker also faces billions of
dollars in fines, although exact amounts were not deter-
The cars, all built in the last seven years, include the
VW Jetta, Beetle, Golf and Passat models, as well as
the Audi A3. The vehicles all contain a device pro-
grammed to detect when they are undergoing official
emissions testing, the EPA said. The cars only turn on
full emissions control systems during that testing. The
controls are turned off during normal driving situations,
the EPA said, allowing the cars to emit more than the
legal limit of pollutants.
The EPA called the company s use of the so-called
"defeat device" illegal and a threat to public health.
"EPA is committed to making sure that all automakers
play by the same rules," said Cynthia Giles, assistant
EPA administrator for enforcement and compliance
VW edged out Toyota to become the world s top-
selling automaker the first half of 2015. But a hit to its
reputation from the emissions revelations could hamper
its efforts at a sales rebound in the US Between 2013
and 2014, VW brand sales plummeted ten per cent
even as overall industry sales rose six per cent. US
buyers want SUVs, and Volkswagen doesn t have com-
petitive vehicles to offer them.
The influential magazine Consumer Reports almost
immediately suspended its "recommended" rating from
the Jetta and Passat diesels until it can get a recall repair
and re-test the cars.
Volkswagen marketed the diesel-powered cars, which
account for about 25 per cent of sales, as being better
for the environment. After the EPA announcement,
the automaker withdrew ads for its diesel cars from
youtube.com and asked dealers to stop selling 2015
diesel cars with 2.0-liter engines, according to a person
familiar with the matter who requested anonymity.
Some VW customers were furious.
Zeeshan Shah, 39, of Fulton, Maryland, said that he
bought a Volkswagen Diesel Passat 2015 model in July
after he totalled his Jetta two years ago.
"The selling point," for the Diesel Passat was that
the technology was so good, he said. Now, Shah said
he plans to bring the car back to the local dealer to
have it examined and doesn t want to buy another
Volkswagen. "Once they cheat you on this issue, what
other issues can they cheat you on?" he said. "You
don t trust them."
San Francisco resident Marsha Riggs, who owns a
2009 Jetta SportWagen, said she was shocked. "I bought
this car because I thought it was clean," she said. "And
it s not clean." She had been happy with the car but
now doubts she d buy another Volkswagen. "They sort
of compromised that trust," she said.
John German, senior fellow with the International
Council on Clean Transportation, the group that blew
the whistle on VW, said the council didn t expect to
find any violators when it contracted with West Virginia
University to test cars with diesel engines in the US.
The council, a research group that helps governments
form regulations, did the US tests in an effort to show
that automakers were complying with US nitrogen
oxide emissions standards, which are stricter than in
other countries, he said.
The EPA and California authorities acted quickly
after being told of the violation, German said.
The EPA called on VW to fix the cars emissions
systems, but said car owners do not need to take any
immediate action. The violations pose no safety hazard.
The cars remain legal to drive and sell while Volkswagen
comes up with a plan to recall and repair them, the
The EPA said VW faces fines of up to $37,500 per
vehicle for the violations---a total of more than US$18
billion. The California Air Resources Board is also inves-
VW might need up to a year to identify corrective
actions, develop a recall plan and issue recall notices,
the EPA said.
Environmental groups hailed the EPA and California
for moving aggressively to enforce clean air laws.
"The charges here are truly appalling: that Volkswagen
knowingly installed software that produced much higher
smog-forming emissions from diesel vehicles in the
real world than in pre-sale tests," said Frank O Donnell,
president of Clean Air Watch, a Washington-based
• Continues on Page A20
VW chief 'sorry' after EPA
says firm skirted clean air law
Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn addresses the
shareholders during the annual shareholder meeting
of the car manufacturer Volkswagen in Hannover,
Germany in May. Winterkorn apologised yesterday,
after the Environmental Protection Agency said the
German automaker skirted clean air rules by rigging
emissions tests for about 500,000 diesel cars.
Links Archive September 20th 2015 September 22nd 2015 Navigation Previous Page Next Page