Volkswagen will propose to U.S. authorities a new catalytic converter system that could be fitted to about 430,000 cars capable of cheating diesel emissions tests. Grace Pascoe reports.
Can a catalytic converter fix VW's problems in the U.S.? CEO Matthias Mueller certainly hopes so. He's announced plans to fit the new equipment in 430,000 U.S. cars which had been rigged to pass emission tests. It's the first time Mueller has visited the States since the scandal emerged. Mike Ingram is from BGC Partners (SOUNDBITE) (English) BGC PARTNERS, MARKET ANALYST, MIKE INGRAM, SAYING: "I find it absolutely incredible that Matthias Mueller has taken over three months to get over there. There are still no signs of any kinds of agreement with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). We saw last week the Department of Justice is moving ahead with an investigation. And as VW management has itself pointed out, the potential liabilities incurred just from the U.S. are potentially life threatening for the company." Satisfying regulators is a priority for the beleaguered German car maker. With the U.S. Justice Department suing them for a sum that could reach 46 billion dollars. In Europe Volkswagen may have less of a fight on its hands - with no penalties ordered so far. That's partly because there's no EU-wide authority overseeing car testing, instead 28 national agencies do it with varying standards. And while the bloc outlawed "defeat devices" in 2007, There's no defined penalties for masking emissions in Europe. EU states also reportedly have an unwritten rule that some national interests are sacred Germany's car industry has traditionally been one of them.