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VW Apologizes, Promises Imminent Diesel Fix

November 19, 2015, by Paul Clinton - Also by this author

Photo of Michael Horn speaking at the L.A. Auto Show by Paul Clinton.
Photo of Michael Horn speaking at the L.A. Auto Show by Paul Clinton.

The CEO of Volkswagen's North American automotive business offered a rare public apology at the Los Angeles Auto Show on a press day that's usually filled with glossy vehicle reveals, and said the company is on the verge of revealing its plan to fix the nearly 500,000 diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. with an emissions software cheat.

During the Volkswagen press conference, Michael Horn said the company would "announce something soon," as it works to retain goodwill with its dealers and customers. Volkswagen must submit a plan to the California Air Resources Board by Friday about how it plans to fix diesel vehicles with four-cylinder engines that release as much as 40 times the permitted amount of nitrogen oxide.

"Nothing is more important to me than the satisfaction of our customers and to make things right," Horn said. "We understand that apologies are not enough."

Horn said about 120,000 retail customers have taken advantage of a goodwill package that included two $500 gift cards and 24-hour roadside assistance for three years. The company is working separately with its commercial fleet customers.

The EPA has claimed its 3.0L six-cylinder engines included the software cheat. Horn said that issue needs "to be clarified" between the automaker and regulators.

Horn said the company remains committed to the North American market and showed the redesigned 2016 Passat mid-size sedan and the Golf GTE plug-in hybrid concept. Volkswagen AG has indicated earlier that it plans to shift toward electrified powertrains to meet national fuel economy standards.

Audi executives also addressed the diesel emissions scandal that has affected less than 20,000 Audi vehicles in the U.S. It's "a challenge we intent to meet," said Scott Keogh, president of Audi of America.

"Trust is what cements us to our dealers, and we are going to work to restore that trust," Keogh added.

Keogh alluded to a possible shift from diesel to electrified powertrains. The company sees an opportunity and "now is the time to mainstream it." Keogh expects electrified powertrains to make up 25% of Audi sales in the U.S. in 2025.

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