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Car and Driver: VW CEO Characterizes Diesel Scandal as a “Technical Problem,” Says Company Didn’t Lie

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Volkswagen Leadership ConvenesIn a bizarre turn immediately following Volkswagen’s press conference at the 2016 Detroit auto show, the company’s CEO went from full apology mode to defiantly puzzling. In a post-conference interview with NPR, Matthias Müller claimed the whole diesel-emissions scandal could be attributed to a “technical problem,” not an intentional circumventing of the law. He added that the company never lied to the EPA or anyone else before, during, or after it was discovered that certain diesel VWs came with software that turned on the emissions controls during government emissions testing and turned them off at other times, allowing the cars to greatly exceed allowable vehicle emissions.


If you’ve been following the scandal at all, Müller’s comments might seem at odds with the overwhelming evidence that VW cheated on emissions tests and then seemingly lied about doing so to cover it up. Hence inquiries into and lawsuits over VW’s behavior by the Department of Justice, the EPA, California’s Air Resources Board, and several state attorneys general. Answering an NPR question regarding the scandal’s roots within Volkswagen, and whether those were the result of shabby ethics or a technical challenge, Müller claimed it wasn’t an ethical issue, stating “we had . . . not the right interpretation of the American law.”


Müller also expressed a lack of understanding as to how anyone could think that VW suffers ethical issues even as the automaker continues to make staff changes at its highest levels. When NPR pointed out to the CEO the lies EPA says it was told before the emissions problem was fully brought to light, Müller claimed: “We didn’t lie. We didn’t understand the question.”


The NPR/Müller exchange is only the latest development in Volkswagen’s diesel-emissions saga, and it’s certainly among the stranger ones.


2016 Detroit Auto Show Full Coverage


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