Volkswagen has found itself in hot water once again over the diesel scandal. In an interview with NPR before the Detroit Auto Show, CEO Matthias Mueller said the company didn't lie to the EPA. The company just misunderstood the law.
Here is the exchange
NPR: You said this was a technical problem, but the American people feel this is not a technical problem, this is an ethical problem that's deep inside the company. How do you change that perception in the U.S.?
Matthias Mueller: Frankly spoken, it was a technical problem. We made a default, we had a ... not the right interpretation of the American law. And we had some targets for our technical engineers, and they solved this problem and reached targets with some software solutions which haven't been compatible to the American law. That is the thing. And the other question you mentioned — it was an ethical problem? I cannot understand why you say that.
NPR: Because Volkswagen, in the U.S., intentionally lied to EPA regulators when they asked them about the problem before it came to light.
Mueller: We didn't lie. We didn't understand the question first. And then we worked since 2014 to solve the problem. And we did it together and it was a default of VW that it needed such a long time.
After this interview was aired on NPR, Volkswagen asked if it would be possible to do a do-over. NPR agreed and did another interview with Muller. This time, Muller clarified some of his earlier comments, adding this was a problem that has existed in Volkswagen for ten years.
“We had the wrong reaction when we got information year by year from the EPA and from the [California Air Resources Board]. We have to apologize for that, and we’ll do our utmost to do things right for the future.”