Volkswagen said on Sunday that it has begun an investigation related to the revelation that the company sold diesel-powered vehicles in the United States that were designed to alter engine emissions when the vehicle emissions were being tested. The company also said that it would stop selling some diesel vehicles in the United States.
The sales suspension covers the models that were found by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to have cheated on the emissions tests. These include the VW Jetta, Jetta Sportwagen, Beetle, Beetle convertible, Golf, Golf Sportwagen, Passat and the Audi A3, according to a report from Consumer Reports.
Diesel vehicles are not particularly big sellers in the United States. The best-selling diesel vehicle is the Ram pickup, which has sold 38,648 units for the year through August. Volkswagen claims the next four spots in the rankings, with sales of the Passat diesel (16,109 units), the Jetta diesel (15,511 units), the Golf Sportwagen diesel (8,091 units) and the Golf diesel (6,846 units), according to HybridCars.com. Including all VW, Audi and Porsche models, Volkswagen has sold about 62,400 diesel units in the United States this year.
The German carmaker has sold a total of just over 403,000 units, so diesel units account for just over 15% of the company’s total U.S. sales. As a percentage of all diesel vehicles sold in the United States so far this year, Volkswagen accounts for nearly 52% of the total of almost 120,700 units. And of 11.56 million vehicles sold in the country through August, diesel vehicles account for just over 1% of the total.
Volkswagen stock dropped nearly 20% in Frankfort Monday morning, and it is fair to think that group CEO Martin Winterkorn may soon be looking for a new job. The company faces a potential fine totaling around $18 billion, if EPA were to impose the maximum allowed.