VW admits 11 mln cars have pollution cheating device

People arrive for work through the main gate of the headquarters of German car maker Volkswagen in Wolfsburg, central Germany, on September 23, 2015. AFP Photo

Volkswagen's pollution cheating scandal escalated dramatically when the automaker revealed 11 million of its cars worldwide could be affected, wiping a third off the company's market value and threatening to topple its chief executive.     

As the United States opened a criminal investigation into Volkswagen, chief executive Martin Winterkorn offered his "deepest apologies" for the scandal which threatens to tarnish Germany's pristine industrial reputation.     

"I am infinitely sorry that we have disappointed people's trust. I offer my deepest apologies to our customers, the authorities and to the public at large for our misconduct," the 68-year-old executive said in a video statement and promised to be "ruthless" in getting to the bottom of the scandal.

The "irregularities... contradict everything that our company stands for," Winterkorn said. "Manipulation must never again occur at Volkswagen."   

The German firm has halted all diesel vehicles sales in the United States during the US probe, which could lead to fines amounting to a maximum of more than $18 billion.

Authorities from France to South Korea also said they would investigate the affair, prompting Volkswagen to announce that it was setting aside 6.5 billion euros ($7.3 billion) in provisions for the third quarter to cover the potential costs of the scandal.             

When U.S. authorities announced last week that special software on VW diesel vehicles drastically reduced output of pollutants when they were undergoing emissions tests they said it concerned nearly half a million vehicles sold in the United States.

"Further internal investigations have shown that the software concerned is also installed in other diesel vehicles," VW said in a...

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