During a hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday, Volkswagen of America CEO Michael Horn told lawmakers that the German automaker’s emissions cheating scandal was the work of a handful of rogue employees and not a high-level corporate conspiracy.
His comments drew a skeptical response from members of the House Oversight and Investigations panel looking into the discovery that Volkswagen rigged the software controlling its four-cylinder diesel engines so that they would sharply reduce emissions while being tested. In real world use, however, they were allowed to produce as much as 40 times the U.S. mandate for smog-causing oxides of nitrogen.
The Oversight panel has joined a growing list, including the U.S. Justice Department, the EPA and German federal prosecutors, trying to find out just how high up the command chain at Volkswagen the emissions rigging project was approved or, at least, known about. But some experts suggest the real question is whether VW management simply set the tone that made such subterfuge possible, even necessary.