On Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, Volkswagen shares plummeted to 18 percent, wiping out a third of the value of the group in just two days, according to CNN Money. It is an apparent fallout, resulting from the company’s stunning announcement to investors, that the problem is bigger than originally reported. The world’s largest automaker is being scrutinized for manufacturing vehicles with diesel engines and causing them to appear to run cleaner than they actually do, not only on vehicles sold in the U.S. but around the world. As a result, authorities in Germany have ordered Volkswagen to come clean on the recent emissions scandal.
The scandal first broke on Friday when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that the German company intentionally programmed its diesel vehicles to vent lower levels of harmful emissions during official tests. The vehicles are equipped with software designed to recognize when the vehicle is being tested on a dynamometer, causing the emissions control system to run at maximum, thereby bringing the vehicles into compliance of the tough U.S. standards. However, once the tests are completed, the vehicles change to a different mode that will allow emissions levels to increase to 40 times higher than the test results. The company admitted there are 11 million vehicles worldwide equipped with the code set-up to trick the emissions test. Consequently, Volkswagen is being ordered to come clean on the emissions scandal as it faces a tough review. According to NBC News, the automaker is setting aside $7.2 billion to cover the anticipated costs to resolve the cheating disgrace.
At the launch of the 2015 Volkswagen Passat, the chief executive of the Volkswagen Group in America, Michael Horn, issued an apology on Monday saying, “Our company was dishonest, with the EPA and the California Air Resources Board, and with all of you and in my German words, we have totally screwed up.” Horn also added that the company’s actions have not been consistent with their core values.
Authorities have ordered Volkswagen to recall over 450,000 vehicles, and the company has stopped the sale of some cars in the United States. The models affected include the Golf and Beetle models from 2009-2015, VW Jetta, Audi A3 (model years 2009-2015), in addition to the 2014-2015 Passat models. Moreover, the company is prohibited from selling 2016 models until they are fixed, according to the Hannibal Courier-Post.
A development such as this raises several questions, particularly for owners of the vehicles affected by the cover-up and subsequent recall. First of all, Volkswagen intends to fix the cars for no cost, however, as of this report, a remedy has not been developed or suggested. Owners can expect to be notified with further instructions when there is a solution. In the meantime, the cars are safe to drive. Experts believe Volkswagen took the huge risk to deceive the EPA and public in order to avoid the additional costs required to meet the tough U.S. emissions standards. However, when the emissions control system is turned off, it helps the car’s economy numbers because the vehicles are then capable of obtaining a higher miles-per-gallon rating.
The total fines for the vehicles involved in the violations could reach an estimated $18 billion dollars. Although CEO Martin Winterkorn has issued an apology, experts say, “They’re going to be swimming in this soup for a while.” In other words, the damage is done and the company that used their influence to create a resurgence in consumer demand for diesel-powered passenger vehicles has traded their credibility for a real crisis of confidence, according to the International Business Times.
German officials, the California Air Resources Board, and the U.S. Justice Department are all taking part in the investigation that may result in massive fines for the German automaker, as well as higher standards for the automotive industry. Volkswagen has been ordered to come clean on the emissions cover up after allegations made by the U.S. EPA, declaring that the automaker has been deceptive regarding emissions tests in their diesel-powered vehicles for the past several years.
By Jireh Gibson
Edited By Leigh Haugh
Hannibal Courier-Post: Questions About Volkswagen’s Emissions Crisis
NBC News: Volkswagen Sets Aside $7.2 Billion to Pay for Emissions Cheating Scandal
CNN Money: Volkswagen Scandal Widens
International Business Times: Volkswagen Recall: Repairing the Carmaker’s Reputation Will Take Years and Won’t Be Fixed by Firing the CEO
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