Today Volkswagen tweeted it has established a website to handle consumer concerns over its four-cylinder diesel cars embroiled in an emissions cheating scandal.
A video and letter accompany the home page, and other vital info is provided as it seeks to finally come clean, no pun intended.
In a list of frequently asked questions, the automaker’s number-one FAQ and answer is an admission that it did install a defeat device in affected models.
Question: “Are the news reports of this ‘defeat device’ true?”
Answer: “Government regulations limit the use of engine software that reduces the effectiveness of a vehicle’s emissions control systems. Those are the “defeat device” regulations, and regrettably, VW violated those regulations. We take full responsibility – and deeply regret that this happened.”
Another question asks whether the vehicles are safe to drive, and as has been repeated, Volkswagen assures consumers they are.
Unaddressed are more adventurous allegations being floated by at least a couple publications which have extrapolated a case well beyond what VW admits or the government says, by trying to put a body count on the cheating scandal.
Rough analyses accounting for 11 million vehicles worldwide emitting more NOx than permitted have come up with estimates ranging from single digits, to a few hundred, to truly staggering numbers.
According to Mother Jones, its title says it all – “Volkswagen’s Emissions Conspiracy May Have Killed at Least 4,000 People Worldwide.”
Again, the EPA has not accused Volkswagen of killing anyone, and has instead told consumers to keep driving the cars.
In its FAQs, Volkswagen also addresses potential snags such as states possibly refusing to pass affected cars in emissions testing. It also addresses people who wish to turn in their affected TDI.
VW says it does not expect a problem, but a hotline number is provided should anyone run into issues with state emissions tests. And, an answer to those wanting to get a refund asks people to be patient, without saying that option is not still under consideration.
“We are cooperating closely with the regulatory authorities to develop a remedy as quickly as possible,” says Volkswagen in response to the question. “We ask for your patience as we work to get this done right.”
Volkswagen has meanwhile gone into damage control mode. Its CEO has quit, others are being terminated, and it is agreeing with accusations that it did the wrong thing, while still affirming environmental sustainability is a corporate goal.
In other arena, the automaker is developing cars known to be environmentally friendly, and not known to have any emissions cheating device, and the problem to date is confined to the named vehicles.
Following is the letter signed by Michael Horn, president and CEO, and posted to the new website.
On September 18, 2015, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. and Volkswagen AG received notice from the US Environmental Protection Agency, US Department of Justice and the California Air Resources Board informing VW that those agencies had determined that certain of our 2.0L 4-cylinder TDI vehicles do not comply with applicable emissions standards.
The vehicles included in the notifications include:
VW Jetta TDI (Model Years 2009 – 2015)
VW Jetta SportWagen TDI (Model Years 2009-2014)
VW Golf TDI (Model Years 2010-2015)
VW Golf SportWagen TDI (Model Year 2015)
VW Beetle TDI and VW Beetle Convertible TDI (Model Years 2012-2015)
VW Passat TDI (Model Years 2012-2015)
As environmental protection and sustainability are among Volkswagen’s strategic corporate objectives, the Company takes this matter very seriously and is cooperating with the investigation.
Volkswagen is committed to finding a remedy as soon as possible. We want to assure customers and owners of these models that their automobiles are safe to drive, and we are working to develop a remedy that will meet the expectations of the government agencies.
Owners of these vehicles do not need to take any action at this time. Once we have information regarding a remedy, consumers will be notified.
We understand that owners of the cars affected by the emissions compliance issues are upset. We ask our valued customers for their patience as we address this issue as quickly as we can.
You may have noticed that we have stopped advertising our latest TDI models. We did this as an interim step while we seek the government approvals that will allow us to offer our 2.0L 4-cylinder TDI models for sale.
We are committed to making this right and preventing it from ever happening again. We will bring these TDI vehicles into compliance with the federal and state emissions regulations.
Along with our parent company, Volkswagen AG, we are committed to do what must be done, and begin to restore your trust.
We will share more information with you as it becomes available.
Thank you for your understanding.
President and CEO
Volkswagen Group of America