The German automaker has asked its US dealers to cease delivery of certain 2015 diesel-powered models because the US automotive regulators found they breached regulations concerning toxic emissions.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced on Friday they had detected hidden software designed to plant false emissions data in the afflicted models, with the company announcing they started an outside-controlled probe in the matter. Chief executive officer Martin Winterkorn said in a statement published Sunday he was “sorry” for breaching the trust of consumers and the external investigation was immediately ordered to gain an insight into the mishap. The EPA said the software was used to deceive the regulators when measuring the vehicle’s toxic emissions, with the company passable for punitive measures that would reach as much as $18 billion. US media reported late last week the dealers still had certain diesel Jetta, Passat and Beetle models with the software still for sale.
Volkswagen did confirm it had ordered the cease of sale for the affected autos but refrained from delivering any details on the actual number of cars involved. Analysts commented that such a breach is not a regular recall flaw – ranging from calibration errors to even serious safety defects – and as such there is no optimistic outcome envisioned for the group. According to an enforcement officer at the EPA, the vehicles “contained software that turns off emissions controls when driving normally and turns them on when the car is undergoing an emissions test”. The system, called by the EPA a “defeat device,” would hide up to 40 times the level of pollutants allowed by the clean air rules – but only under testing conditions.