VW apologise for emissions error

Volkswagen has apologised after US regulators found some of its cars disguised pollution levels.

VW chief executive, Martin Winterkorn said, ‘I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public.’

An investigation has now been launched into the device that allowed VW cars to emit less during tests than they would while driving normally.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found the ‘defeat device’ in diesel cars including the Audi A3, VW Jetta, Beetle, Golf and Passat models.

The German carmaker was ordered to recall half a million cars on Friday and the company’s shares were down 18% in early trading.

In addition to paying for the recall, VW faces fines that could add up to billions of dollars. There may also be criminal charges for VW executives.

The EPA said that the fine for each vehicle that did not comply with federal clean air rules would be up to $37,500 (£24,000). With 482,000 cars sold since 2008 involved in the allegations, meaning the fines could reach $18bn.

VW’s current stock market value is about €66bn ($75bn; £48bn), so this would be a substantial fine for the carmaker.

The company has stopped selling the relevant diesel models in the US, where diesel cars account for about a quarter of sales.