VW `Clean Diesel' Scheme Exposed as Criminal Charges Weighed
VW admitted systematically cheating on U.S. air pollution tests for years, theEnvironmental Protection Agency announced Friday in citing violations that could add up to $18 billion in fines. The company said it has also heard from the Justice Department, which the EPA said could pursue criminal prosecution.
The German automaker has struggled to gain a foothold in the world’s
second-biggest car market with a strategy built in part on touting the efficiency of fun-to-drive “clean diesel” vehicles now shown to be anything but.
“It’s a huge black eye for Volkswagen,” said Matt DeLorenzo, managing editor for news at Kelley Blue Book in Irvine, California. Consumer Reports magazine reacted by suspending its “recommended” rating of two diesel models.
Diesel versions of the popular Beetle, Golf, Jetta and Passat comprise more than a quarter of the brand’s sales in the U.S. and are a vital part of the company’s strategy for meeting tougher U.S. fuel economy standards going into effect in coming years. More than other carmakers, VW has chosen to focus on diesel technology instead of electrics or hybrids.