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Thursday, October 18, 2018
Volkswagen’s U.S. Boss Knew About Emissions Problem in 2014

Volkswagen’s U.S. Boss Knew About Emissions Problem in 2014

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WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 08: Volkswagen Group of America President and CEO Michael Horn testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill October 8, 2015 in Washington, DC. Horn was questioned by members of Congress about the origins and details behind Volkswagen's emissions scandal, which the company said involved the rigging of engines in 11 million diesel cars around the world to beat emissions tests. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla—2015 Getty Images Volkswagen Group of America President and CEO Michael Horn testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill October 8, 2015 in Washington, D.C.

The company tried to find a fix in 2014 before telling EPA about its defeat devices

The head of Volkswagen’s U.S. operations learned that his company’s cars might not be in compliance with federal standards in the spring of 2014, he said Thursday.

In prepared testimony, CEO Michael Horn admitted to a congressional committee that he was informed of “possible emissions non-compliance” at that time and told that the situation could be remedied.

Horn’s knowledge likely came from a West Virginia University study that found discrepancies between VW cars’ stated emissions rates and on-road testing. Horn said in 2014 he was also told that the EPA could test for the presence of a “defeat device,” the software Volkswagen used to have its cars emit fewer pollutants during emissions testing than when they are on the road.

Horn didn’t specifically say that he knew Volkswagen had installed defeat devices on millions of cars over the course of several years. However, he said that later in 2014 he was told that Volkswagen’s technical teams had a plan to bring the company’s cars in line with emissions standards.

The plan to solve the issue quietly apparently didn’t work, as VW is now embroiled in a massive corporate scandal. According to Horn’s testimony, Volkswagen informed the EPA about its defeat devices on Sept. 3. It’s not clear why it took so long for the company to acknowledge its use of those devices.

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