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Energy and Commerce Democrats Demand Answers from Volkswagen CEO

Oct 8, 2015
Press Release
Lawmakers Seek Solutions for Consumers, Point to Auto Industry’s Pervasive ‘Culture of Deception’

Watch the full hearing here

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee, led by full Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), demanded answers from Volkswagen regarding the company’s intentional efforts to circumvent the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) emissions requirements for certain models of diesel engine passenger vehicles.  Volkswagen, one of the world’s largest automakers, violated the Clean Air Act, misled consumers, and put public health at risk by knowingly installing manipulative software in their vehicles that effectively tricked emissions tests and released up to 40 times the allowable amount of pollutants into the air.

“We know Volkswagen purposefully deceived millions of their customers and sold them cars designed to cheat emissions testing,” said Rep. DeGette. “Now those customers are left with cars belching much higher levels of pollution. Those customers don’t have any answers about when or how their car will be fixed or what kind of car they will be left with. Volkswagen owes its drivers a solution to this deception, it owes answers to my committee about who knew what and when, and finally it owes an apology to its customers.”

Volkswagen has admitted that the “defeat devices,” designed to circumvent EPA emission standards for certain air pollutants, were installed in their diesel cars.  According to Volkswagen, 11 million vehicles worldwide and about 500,000 vehicles in the United States contain this defeat device.

“We are here today because Volkswagen lied—they lied to regulators, their consumers, and the American public,” said Ranking Member Frank Pallone.  “Over the past five years, the world’s three largest automakers have come before this Committee to admit that they have cheated the system and lied to American consumers.  There seems to be a pervasive culture of deception in this industry, and it is has to stop now.”

At today’s Oversight and Investigations hearing, lawmakers questioned Michael Horn, President and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., about who at Volkswagen knew about or authorized this fraudulent activity, what will be done to address the unresolved emissions issue, and how the company intends to make right by their customers and rebuild public trust.

Last month, Ranking Members Pallone and DeGette, along with Chairmen Upton and Murphy, as part of the Committee’s ongoing investigation, requested information from Volkswagen and EPA in order to more fully review the facts and circumstances regarding Volkswagen’s reported Clean Air Act violations.  The letters request that the information and documents be provided to Committee leaders by Tuesday, October 13, 2015.