In late 2015, Volkswagen (VW) admitted to cheating on US tests to make its diesel cars seem more green than they actually were. Volkswagen has announced that nearly 1.2 million of its vehicles sold in the UK alone are fitted with the software that allows them to cheat. Now, US authorities are asking the German car producer to produce electric vehicles in the United States as a way to partially make up for their past wrongdoings.
German newspaper Welt am Sonntag claims the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is currently in talks with Volkswagen to produce electric vehicles at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and to help build a network of charging stations for electric vehicles in the United States. Some of VW's cars are already fitted with electric or hybrid motors so it wouldn't be that big of a jump. However, right now there aren't many details as to how this deal would work, nor has this been officially confirmed.
"Talks with the EPA are ongoing and we are not commenting on the contents and state of the negotiations," a VW spokesman said. EPA also declined to comment.
VW will present its final report on the crisis to law firm Jones Day in April, Bild am Sonntag said, and until then all we can do is speculate. However, I feel like this would be an interesting and potentially very efficient way of making amends. Of course, it seems safe to assume that VW will have to pay massive fines, but turning a punishment into something productive seems like the right way to go about it.
VW has admitted that about 11 million cars worldwide, including eight million in Europe, are fitted with the so-called "defeat device".
"We've totally screwed up," said VW America boss Michael Horn at the time, while the group's chief executive at the time, Martin Winterkorn, said his company had "broken the trust of our customers and the public". Mr Winterkorn resigned as a direct result of the scandal and was replaced by Matthias Mueller, the former boss of Porsche. "My most urgent task is to win back trust for the Volkswagen Group - by leaving no stone unturned," Mr Mueller said on taking up his new post.