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VW Emissions Scandal: Volkswagen Boss Apologises to US Congress

By National Practice Group Leader, Group Litigation

Michael Horn, Chief Executive of Volkswagen’s US operation, has apologised for installing devices to cheat emissions tests on diesel cars.

Car Exhaust

Speaking to US Congress, Mr Horn offered a “sincere apology” regarding the cheat devices and the deceit to the public over diesel emissions. He said that the events were “deeply troubling” and that the decision to use the devices wasn’t made at board level, but by individuals.

According to Volkswagen three software engineers have been suspended following the revelations over falsified emissions data but cannot be named for legal reasons.

The committee were understandably sceptical over the claims that the decision to install the devices in diesel vehicles was down to just a few individuals. New York Congressman Chris Collins said, "VW is trying to get us to believe this is the work of a couple of rogue engineers. I don't believe it."

Other members of congress voiced their disbelief that no one in the “well-run” company had any knowledge of the use of the cheat devices.

Mr Horn accepted that Volkswagen was fully responsible for their actions and that they would be working with all relevant authorities in a co-operative way. VW will offer a financial package to American dealers to help them through the crisis but still have no firm idea how long it will take to fix the US cars.

Volkswagen is also considering a full refund for owners of the affected vehicles. Mr Horn stated that it was “one of the areas we are looking at” when asked about the possibility.

Other Cars Affected

Many more car makers have been implicated in the diesel emissions scandal after real-world tests were carried out that showed emissions data to be incorrect. Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Renault, Nissan, Hyundai, Citroen, Fiat, Volvo, Jeep, Mazda and Mitsubishi have all been tested and their vehicles emit significantly more pollution on the road than in regulatory testing.

There is no evidence that any of these brands have used cheat devices like those used by Volkswagen, but it is interesting to see that the incorrect testing is systematic across car manufacturers.

MEPs have been fighting for many years to reform the EU rules on emissions testing so they actually reflect real world emissions. Hopefully with the VW scandal and more manufacturers implicated, changes to the way diesel emissions are tested will be implemented.

Affected Car Owners

Owners of Volkswagen vehicles, and other affected brands, will have to wait and see what the fix will be to their cars. VW announced that the UK recall will start in January 2016 but have not said what the fix will actually entail. Until we know this we can’t say if the fix will affect the vehicles’ performance, resale value or if any further expenditure will be needed.

Slater and Gordon are investigating the possibility of a group action case against Volkswagen on behalf of owners of affected vehicles and VW shareholders.

If you have been affected by the emissions scandal, please visit our Volkswagen Emission Scandal Legal Investigation page to register your information.

Jacqueline Young is Head of Group Litigation at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter for more updates.

Group Litigation, VW

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