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Internal communication documents indicate VW misled regulators

Posted on Tuesday, February 23rd, 2016   

Though former Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn publically admitted that around 11 million of his company’s vehicles had been equipped with emissions-cheating software last September, it seems as though Winterkorn may have known of the problem much earlier than he said. The New York Times reports that the authenticity of documents have been verified by two people who held senior positions with VW, though they wished to remain anonymous.

Newly released internal memos and emails indicate that top managers with the German carmaker knew that affected diesel models could not be brought into compliance with emissions standards. In fact, The New York Times reports that Wintekorn was warned that regulators may eventually accuse the company of using emissions-cheating software in May of 2014, almost a full year and a half before his admission last September.

Should U.S. officials find that Volkswagen intentionally misled regulators, thereby breaking laws based on public disclosure of problems like these, the penalties levied against VW may increase. As part of that, VW may have to pay larger settlements to owners of affected diesel vehicles. The German automaker has not yet found a technical solution that is suitable for U.S. regulators and VW may have to buy back affected vehicles from owners instead.

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