Volkswagen has confessed to manipulating emissions tests of its diesel vehicles in the US, just days after the US Environmental Protection Agency accused the German firm of using software to circumvent standards for certain air pollutants.
“The manipulation of the installed software did occur,” a VW spokesman said Sunday in the northern city of Wolfsburg.
The automaker, Europe’s largest, could face penalties exceeding 18 billion dollars and unforseeable damage to its brand and reputation for its actions.
VW chief Martin Winterkorn in a statement expressed his personal regret at having betrayed the trust of consumers and the public but stopped short of directly accepting the truth of the allegations.
“The proceedings have the highest priority for us in managenment and for myself personally,” Winterkorn said.
“We are working openly and thoroughly with the proper authorities in order to clarify the issue quickly and completely.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Friday issued a “notice of violation” of the US Clean Air Act to the entire Volkswagen group in the US, which includes the upmarket marque Audi.
The notice alleged that “four-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars from model years 2009-2015 include software that circumvents EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants.”
VW has commissioned an external investigation.
“It is clear that Volkswagen will not tolerate any violations of law or regulation of any kind,” Winterkorn said.