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US chief knew VW could be breaking emissions rules 18 months ago

US chief knew VW could be breaking emissions rules 18 months ago

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By Andreas Cremer for Reuters

Volkswagen's top U.S. executive will tell a panel of U.S. lawmakers on Thursday that he knew as long ago as the spring of 2014 that the German carmaker might be breaking rules on U.S. diesel emissions tests.

In written testimony submitted to a congressional oversight panel a day ahead of Thursday's hearing, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America Michael Horn said: "In the spring of 2014 ... I was told that there was a possible emissions non-compliance that could be remedied.

"I was also informed that the company engineers would work with the agencies to resolve the issue," he said, without identifying the people providing him with the information.

That is about 18 months before the company admitted to U.S. regulators it used software to cheat tests, and is likely to add to criticism it has not acted swiftly enough to tackle its wrongdoing.

Almost three weeks after it admitted publicly to rigging U.S. emissions tests, Europe's largest carmaker is under huge pressure to identify those responsible, fix affected vehicles and clarify exactly how and where the cheating happened.

Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported on Thursday that Volkswagen's "cheat" software was switched on in Europe.

The company has previously said that, while the software was installed in around 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide, it was not active in the majority of them.

Volkswagen was not immediately available to comment on the Sueddeutsche report.

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