Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 22nd 2015 Contents A17
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BERLIN---Pressure piled on the head of
Volkswagen yesterday in the wake of an
emissions-testing scandal that s seen
around €15 billion (US$16.9 billion) wiped
off the company s market value.
Following revelations that the German
carmaker had rigged US emissions tests for
about 500,000 diesel cars, VW CEO Martin
Winterkorn apologised Sunday for the fact
that his company had "broken the trust of
our customers and the public."
But saying sorry wasn t enough for
investors as they digested the financial and
reputational implications of the scandal on
the world s biggest carmaker by sales---in
mid-afternoon trading in Frankfurt, Volk-
swagen s share price was down a stunning
17.8 per cent at a near three-year low of
€132.15. Earlier it had tumbled by more than
20 per cent.
In the wake of Friday s revelations from
the US s Environmental Protection Agency,
VW has already halted sales of some vehicles
in the US and pledged to co-operate with
regulators in an investigation that could, in
theory, see the company fined up to US$18
Industry analysts said the VW CEO faces
difficult questions in the coming days, par-
ticularly when the company s board is sched-
uled to meet Friday.
"At the moment, I d be surprised if Win-
terkorn can ride this out, but in Germany
there s often a slightly slower process in
these matters," said Christian Stadler, a pro-
fessor of strategic management at Warwick
Business School who researches the car
industry. Stadler said that if VW were a US
company, then the CEO would have gone
more or less immediately.
In essence, Volkswagen stands accused
of skirting the US s clean air rules. The EPA
said VW used a device programmed to detect when
the cars are undergoing official emissions testing.
The software device then turns off the emissions
controls during normal driving situations, allowing
the cars to emit more than the legal limit of pollu-
Guido Reinking, a German auto expert, said that
for a company to engage in such blatant trickery the
company s top executives would have to be informed.
Winterkorn, an engineer by training, led research
and development across the VW group from 2007.
He became chairman of the management board the
"It s almost impossible to imagine that he didn t
know about this special way of programming the
engine," Reinking told German television station n-
tv.Volkswagen marketed the diesel-powered cars,
which account for about 25 per cent of sales, as being
better for the environment.
The cars, which were built in the past seven years,
include the Audi A3, VW Jetta, Beetle, Golf and
The EPA has ordered VW to fix the cars at its own
expense but said car owners do not need to take any
The EPA insisted that the violations do not pose
any safety hazard and said the cars remain legal to
drive and sell while Volkswagen comes up with a
plan to recall and repair them. However, it said the
cars pose a threat to public health.
The EPA also indicated the scale of the fines that
could be imposed on VW. It said the carmaker could
be hit with up to US$37,500 per vehicle for the vio-
lations---a total of more than UD$18 billion. The Cal-
ifornia Air Resources Board is also investigating.
Volkswagen, which recently edged out Japan s Toy-
ota to become the world s top-selling automaker, has
had a difficult year, its share price having fallen from
more than €250 amid signs of faltering sales in the
US and China. (AP)
VW chief under fire after emissions scandal
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