The German carmaker Volkswagen is facing investigations and fines for a computer software problem in millions of its vehicles. The head of the Volkswagen Group, Martin Winterkorn, resigned over the issue this week.
In a statement, Mr. Winterkorn took responsibility for what he called “irregularities” found in diesel engines. He added that he was “not aware of any wrongdoing.”
Earlier, the United States said Volkswagen secretly equipped eight popular models of vehicles with the software. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the software could recognize when emissions tests were being performed. The software turned on pollution controls during the tests, but disabled the controls when the car was being driven.
In a statement, the EPA said that 482,000 diesel-fueled passenger cars sold in the United States since 2008 were affected. Volkswagen had advertised the affected models as being better for the environment. The Justice Department announced on Monday that it plans a criminal investigation of the case.
Volkswagen says 11 million vehicles worldwide had the software. On Tuesday, a French official called for a European investigation into vehicle emissions, after the company admitted to cheating on U.S. emissions tests. Finance Minister Michel Sapin said on French radio that French-made cars should also be tested. But he said he had no reason to suspect French carmakers of wrongdoing.
South Korea also said it will investigate Volkswagen’s actions. South Korean officials called company representatives to Seoul to discuss the issue.
Volkswagen announced on Tuesday that it is putting aside about $7.3 billion to pay for changing the software and other costs. The company said in hopes to win "back the trust of our customers." Volkswagen said it is working intensely to solve the problem.
The Volkswagen Group is based in Wolfsburg, Germany. The company produces a number of car brands, including Audi and Porsche.
Earlier this year, Volkswagen surpassed Toyota as the world’s biggest carmaker. Shares of Volkswagen stock dropped sharply on Monday on news of the company’s problems.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the issue “difficult.” She urged the company to explain its action fully.
I’m Mario Ritter.
Mario Ritter adapted this story from VOA news reports and additional material from Reuters. George Grow was the editor.
Words in This Story
Irregularities –n. the quality or state of being irregular; not usual or proper
Equip –v. to provide with a particular feature or ability
Emissions –n. something sent out or given off