The latest in the Volkswagen emissions scandal comes after many auto industry experts are accusing VW’s top executives of being involved in the tampered emissions software.
Volkswagen’s new CEO, Matthias Mueller, was quoted Wednesday as telling a German newspaper that a few software developers tampered with the pollution controls on some of VW’s diesel engines. He said top executives would not have gotten involved in the software.
Still, industry experts and analysts say it’s hard to believe a few designers acted on their own to blatantly circumvent U.S. emissions. On Thursday, V.W.’s top U.S. executive, Michael Horn apologized at a congressional hearing.
VW’s U.S. Executive, “Personally Deceived”
On Thursday, Michael Horn visited congress, stating that he first learned of the fraudulent software or “defeat devices” on September third, though he said he had known of possible noncompliance issues in Spring of 2014.
“I did not think something like this was possible at the Volkswagen Group,” Horn said in his statement, adding later that he felt “personally deceived”
In response to questioning of the involvement of higher management, Volkswagen’s U.S. executive blamed unnamed engineers at the company for the deceptive software that cheated emissions testing, and denied that anyone in senior management made a decision to break the law.
“This was not a corporate decision,” said Horn. “To my best knowledge today, this was a couple of software engineers who put this in for whatever reason.”
Rep. Joe Barton said that he found it difficult to believe that no one in management would have been aware of the engineers’ decision to use the devices.
“I agree, it’s very hard to believe,” Horn said.
Congressman Chris Collins said later, “it goes way, way higher than that.”
“Over the past five years, the world’s three largest automakers have come before this committee to admit that they have cheated the system and lied to american consumers.” Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. said of the Volkswagen scandal. “There seems to be a pervasive culture of deception in this industry and it has to stop now.”
Volkswagen Emissions Software
VW has admitted that 11 million of its diesel cars worldwide have software that turns pollution controls on when the vehicles are being tested on a treadmill-like device and shuts them off when the automobiles are on the road. The trick enables the cars to get better fuel mileage while spewing illegal levels of smog-causing exhaust.
Former employees, who chose to remain anonymous in their Associated Press interview, said engineers were under pressure from management at the time to fix a problem that prevented VW from selling certain diesels in the U.S. “They don’t take no for an answer.”
The automaker has suspended four people responsible for engine development and hired a law firm to investigate. Mueller, who became CEO less than two weeks ago when Martin Winterkorn resigned over the scandal, said the cars have different transmissions and country-specific designs. “So we don’t need three solutions, but thousands,” he said.
He said many of the cars being recalled won’t need much fixing, merely an adjustment to the software. He also said not all 11 million cars will need to be recalled.
“All the cars should be in order by the end of 2016,” he added.