Volkswagen’s shares have plummeted more than 18% in Germany as the company suffers the fallout from its diesel emissions scandal in the United States.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency Volkswagen and Audi are in breach of California’s Clean Air Act after the manufacturers created software to deliberately cheat emissions testing. As a result, the EPA claims four-cylinder diesel powered models built between 2009â€“15 emit as much as 40 times more nitrogen oxides (NOx) than tests showed.
Over 480,000 vehicles are affected and Volkswagen could face penalties of up to US$18 billion, with fines of US$37,500 per vehicle in breach of the relevant laws.
“Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Working closely with the California Air Resources Board, EPA is committed to making sure that all automakers play by the same rules. EPA will continue to investigate these very serious matters.”
For its part Volkswagen is preparing to take its medicine with Martin Winterkorn, Volkswagen AG CEO, issuing a statement apologising for the breaches.
“I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public,” Winterkorn said. “We will cooperate fully with the responsible agencies, with transparency and urgency, to clearly, openly, and completely establish all of the facts of this case.
“We do not and will not tolerate violations of any kind of our internal rules or of the law,” Winterkorn added. “The trust of our customers and the public is and continues to be our most important asset.”
Affected diesel-powered models include:
- Audi A3 (Model Years 2009â€“2015)
- Beetle (Model Years 2009â€“2015)
- Golf (Model Years 2009â€“2015)
- Jetta (Model Years 2009â€“2015)
- Passat (Model Years 2009â€“2015)