Volkswagen chief admits to knowledge of emissions problem in 2014

The US head of Volkswagen prepared to apologise to Congress today over the "deeply troubling" pollution scandal as it emerged he was well aware of the problem as early as spring 2014.
In testimony released ahead of his hearing with the House energy committee, Michael Horn offered a "sincere apology" for the car maker's use of a software program "that served to defeat the regular emissions testing regime."
He further admitted to being made aware of "a possible emissions non-compliance" in early 2014 after University of West Virginia researchers found that emissions from the affected cars contained up to 40 times as much nitrogen oxide than was legally permissible.
He added, he was also told by his staff at the time that US authorities could conduct tests for so-called "defeat devices".
According to him, later that year, he came to know that informed technical teams had a plan to bring the vehicles into compliance, and that they were working with the authorities on the process.
He added Volkswagen finally admitted to US regulators in September that hidden software installed in certain diesel vehicles "could recognize whether a vehicle was being operated in a test laboratory or on the road," allowed higher levels of pollution outside the lab.
Meanwhile, owners of Volkswagen cars in Australia car are threatening to sue the company after learning about the worldwide emission-rigging scandal.
Over a fortnight since the scandal came to light, Volkswagen has admitted that over 90,000 local cars had been fitted out with software that cheated pollution tests.
Law firm Maurice Blackburn will launch a class action law suit against the automobile giant under consumer law and had been contacted by around 1,000 claimants so far.
According to class actions principal Damian Scattini customer concerns ranged from the resale values of the vehicles, the impact of repairs on engines' longevity and environmental concerns.
''I would imagine that if you were a VW owner then you would join the action, why wouldn't you? It won't cost you anything and it seems like your one opportunity to get back from Volkswagen what they've done to you,'' he told AFP.