Volkswagen Jetta Clean DieselVolkswagen and Audi diesel cars built between 2009-2015 have violated US air pollution regulations, alleges the Environmental Protection Agency – through the use of a ‘defeat device’ that turns on full emissions controls only during official testing.

It means cars in normal use are emitting nitrogen oxides – NOx – at up to 40 times the mandatory standard.

Volkswagen may now face civil penalties and other fines for the use of the defeat device, which is said to have been used on almost 500,000 Volkswagens and Audis since 2008.

Cars affected include:

  • Volkswagen Beetle (2009-2015)
  • Volkswagen Golf (2009-2005)
  • Volkswagen Jetta (2009-2015)
  • Volkswagen Passat (2014-2015)
  • Audi A3 (2009-2015)

CEO Winterkorn ‘deeply sorry’

In an unusual move, Volkswagen AG CEO Dr. Martin Winterkorn has already responded, saying over the weekend that “I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public.

“We will cooperate fully with the responsible agencies, with transparency and urgency, to clearly, openly and completely establish all of the facts of this case.

“We do not and will not tolerate violations of any kind of our internal rules or of the law.”

The firm has now ordered an external investigation and Winterkorn says it is now his and his Board of Management’s top priority.

If found guilty, Volkswagen could face breathtaking fines of up to $18 billion (£11.5 billion): that’s because of possible fines of $37,500 for every one of the 482,000 diesels sold with the emissions defeat device fitted.

Volkswagen share price drops 13%

As the world woke up to the news this week, shares in Volkswagen went into free-fall, suffering their most dramatic plunge in almost six years. Reuters is reporting that Volkswagen shares fell 13% to 140.95 euros by 0207 EDT, ‘the biggest one-day drop since November 2009.’ This follows a 4.5% fall in New York, immediately after the announcement by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Following the unexpected departure of Ferdinand Piëch, 2015 is shaping up to be a year to forget for Volkswagen. This latest allegation catapults the company from the business and automotive press, to the consumer news headlines. A story to watch.