Hero to zero……
Just one week ago Volkswagen was a company oozing confidence, the world’s best-selling automaker with a global brand that appealed to car buyers seeking trustworthy German engineering at an affordable price.
Since then, the company’s fortunes — and its share price — have crashed amid a scandal over rigged emissions tests. Here’s what’s known about the Volkswagen affair so far:
HOW DID IT START?
Researchers at West Virginia University, tipped off by an environmental group, conducted tests on several diesel vehicles and discovered that two Volkswagen models, a 2012 VW Jetta and a 2013 VW Passat, had much higher emissions than permitted. They reported their findings to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board in May 2014, but VW stalled by blaming the problem on technical issues. Then EPA announced Sept. 18 that Volkswagen had skirted clean air rules by cheating on tests of its diesel cars. Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn issued an apology, stating that he was “deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public.”
WHAT DID VW DO?
Diesel vehicles are more efficient than those powered by regular gas but emit higher levels of nitrogen oxides, or NOx, which can contribute to ozone buildup and respiratory illnesses. In Europe, where rules emphasize fuel economy, diesel vehicles are common but until recently they struggled to meet U.S. emissions limits on NOx. VW has admitting using software that allowed its diesel cars to fool U.S. emissions tests, releasing fewer smog-causing NOx during the tests than in real-world driving conditions.