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Emissions scandal, congressional hearing "exceedingly humbling" for VW

VW showed off their Gold TDI Clean Diesel at the 2010 Washington Auto Show. The company has since admitted to evading emissions standards for the last seven years.
wikimedia user Mariordo

Today Volkswagen’s top U.S. executive is facing the wrath of Congress.

The hearing before a congressional oversight panel is in response to VW’s admission that is has been cheating on U.S. diesel emissions tests for the past seven years.

Last year General Motors CEO Mary Barra was lambasted by a congressional panel over GM's ignition recall scandal, and the Detroit News’ Daniel Howes expects today will be no easier for VW U.S. chief Michael Horn.

“I think it’s going to be difficult,” Howes says. “They’ve been caught in a lie. And I think the dishonesty and the deceit is a far bigger sin in some respects than a mistake.”

And while no deaths have been directly attributed to VW as in the GM case, he expects this ordeal will be “very expensive” and “exceedingly humbling for a very proud German company.”

Howes tells us that competitive pressures of the global market combined with the difficulty of engineering around strict environmental guidelines likely contributed to VW’s decision to cheat on the EPA’s emissions tests.

So what do you do when you’re sitting in front of a congressional panel because your company’s been caught in a lie? According to Howes, your options are limited.

“Well, you apologize, and then you say a few more words, and then you apologize, and then you say a few more words, and then you apologize,” Howes says. “I don’t think it’s going to mollify anybody.”

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