Congress to grill VW US CEO Michael Horn on diesel crisis

VW US CEO Michael Horn to testify before Congress

EPA and lawmakers from Energy and Commerce Committee will question CEO this week

VW U.S. CEO Michael Horn is due to testify before lawmakers this week on the diesel crisis. Horn is scheduled to appear before members of the Energy and Commerce Committee of the House of Representatives, as well as a representative of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Thursday, Oct. 8. The testimony will focus on the revelations of emissions-cheating “defeat devices” that have triggered a stop-sale order on certain diesel models in the U.S. and sparked investigations in several countries.

The hearing, titled “Volkswagen’s Emissions Cheating Allegations: Initial Questions,” will be chaired by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), and will involve a discussion on Volkswagen’s admitted efforts to circumvent emissions regulations in the U.S., including those contained in the Clean Air Act.

“There are serious issues raised by reports that Volkswagen installed so-called ‘defeat-devices’ in some of their diesel vehicles to circumvent decades old rules in place to protect public health,” said Rep. Murphy. “The American people want to know why these devices were in place, how the decision was made to install them, and how they went undetected for so long. We will get them those answers.”

The committee hearing comes on the heels of promises by Volkswagen to unveil info on a fix by the end of the week of Oct 5., after an Oct. 7 deadline was imposed by the German government.

“The very notion of a carmaker intentionally violating our environmental laws is beyond belief,”  said committee Chairman Fred Upton. “Those of us from Michigan take great pride in having a hand in many of the cars on the road today and we appreciate the challenges automakers face to meet consumer demands year after year. But reports of Volkswagen selling cars with devices aimed at skirting the law cannot, and will not be tolerated. Attempting to deceive regulators and customers is a double whammy of betrayal. We will get to the bottom of this.”

Over the weekend Volkswagen launched a website in Germany, where far more VW AG models from several brands including Audi, Skoda and Seat are thought to be affected, allowing owners to enter a VIN to find out if their model will be recalled. Varying estimates of the number of vehicles potentially affected have been offered by Volkswagen and German authorities in the past several days, with the highest estimate being 11 million vehicles worldwide.

 

Volkswagen has yet to launch a similar VIN-based recall search on the crisis site that has been created for the U.S. market, which only features a listing of vehicles and model years affected. The U.S. tally of Volkswagen and Audi cars thought to possess the emisions-cheating software so far stands at around 482,000.

Volkswagen’s diesel information site for Canada, however, does not contain a specific listing of models and model years affected, mentioning only models equipped with 2.0-liter TDI engines.

VW of Canada has similarly stopped the sale of the Golf, Jetta, Passat, and Beetle models equipped with the 2.0-liter TDI engine, in addition to pulling the TDI-engined Audi A3 from the market. Even though Volkwagen’s Canadian lineup is a little different from the U.S., the models affected appear to be only the ones that were named by VW in the U.S.

 

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