The top executive for Volkswagen in the United States reportedly knew about the company’s emissions violation as far back as 18 months before the scandal was revealed to the public. The company utilized cheating devices in 11 million of its diesel vehicles worldwide in order to trick investigators into believing that their vehicles were compliant with emission standards.
President of Volkswagen America Michael Horn is likely to make this confession publically at an upcoming hearing. With this latest revelation, more questions will be raised as to why the German car manufacturer did not act faster to stop its illicit behavior. The largest car company in Europe is under heavy pressure to identify those responsible and fix the vehicles that were involved in the scandal.
Since the scandal took place, Volkswagen has lost more than one-third of its market value, and longtime CEO Martin Winterkorn has been replaced by new CEO Matthias Mueller. Additionally, the entire automotive industry has been affected, with some believing that other car companies might be cheating emission guidelines as well. However, insiders state that the scandal does not go beyond Volkswagen.
In a statement published on the website of the United States House of Representatives, Michael Horn says, “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.”
Horn did not identify the individuals responsible for providing him with the critical information.
Volkswagen did not reveal its usage of cheating devices to regulators until early September of this year. The company has since suspended more than ten of its senior managers, including three of the company’s top engineers. The automobile manufacturer has hired law firm Jones Day to conduct an external investigation.
Some analysts have stated that Volkswagen could lose up to $40 billion in the scandal once everything is said and done. This value includes the fact that its stock price has plummeted.
Meanwhile, the scandal has been a huge embarrassment for Germany. The country has used Volkswagen as a model representing the engineering powers of the nation. The German automotive industry employs more than 750,000 people.
Now the country is trying to save face, insisting that one bad incident should not spoil the German car industry or the benefits of diesel power.
German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said, “There should not be a debate about the automotive industry or about diesel technology."
Diesel vehicles are extremely popular in Europe, as they represent roughly half of the continent’s new automobile sales. Only a small fraction of vehicles in the United States utilize diesel power.
The company recently announced that many of its diesel vehicles will not be in its 2016 lineup.