Michael Horn, president and CEO of Volkswagen of America, appeared before a congressional committee in Washington today to answer questions regarding the emissions cheating affecting 430,000 Audi and Volkswagen diesel vehicles.
Horn apologized for the transgressions and promised a full investigation.
“This was not a corporate decision,” Horn said during his testimony before members of the House Energy and Commerce investigations subcommittee, adding that the cheating was done by a couple of software engineers in Germany. “I agree it’s hard to believe,” he said when pressed by Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas), about whether senior management was aware of the “cheating” device installed on TDI powered vehicles since 2009.
Horn said that the affected cars will need more than a software update to comply with U.S. requirements. VW is researching the possibility of adding hardware , such as urea tanks or improved catalytic converters. Engineers are still working on options and will discuss with regulators when they’re ready, he said.
Volkswagen is putting a lot of effort to make things right with its customers. The company will compensate customers and address any impact on performance. The fix will continue to maintain the car’s fuel efficiency, said Horn. Additionally, losses to the company will depend on fines, how much money it takes to fix the cars and compensate customers.
This is the first public questioning in the U.S. of a VW executive since the EPA and California Resources Board announced their investigation on September 18. The “dieselgate” scandal upset the world’s second largest carmaker enough to force resignation of its CEO, Martin Winterkorn, and announce cost of repairs will be $7.3 billion. This doesn’t include a potential $18 billion fine incurred from violating the Clean Air Act, based on a maximum $38,000 penalty for each car involved.
Immediately following his testimony before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee on Capitol Hill, Michael Horn commented on the proceedings and Volkswagen of America.
Here is video of Michael Horn formally apologizing and promising a full investigation to the media and VW supporters.