CEO of Volkswagen apologizes to customers, public


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

The CEO of Volkswagen apologized Sunday 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 cars.

“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 EPA said Friday that VW used software that allowed its diesel cars to release fewer smog-causing pollutants during tests than in real-world driving conditions. The cars, built in the last seven years, include the Audi A3, VW Jetta, Beetle, Golf and Passat models. The agency ordered VW to fix the cars at its own expense. VW also faces fines that could add up to billions of dollars.

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 U.S. Between 2013 and 2014, VW brand sales plummeted 10 percent even as overall industry sales rose 6 percent. U.S. buyers want SUVs, and Volkswagen doesn’t have competitive 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.

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