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VW Scandal Affects Even More Cars — Millions of Them

VW Golf TDI clean diesel

Turns out Volkswagen outfitted a few more than just 500,000 diesel cars with software to "cheat" emissions tests. The German-based company revealed on Tuesday that the number is actually closer to 11 million.

While the initial half million refers specifically to cars sold in the U.S., the larger number includes cars manufactured worldwide but primarily in Europe, where Volkswagen has a reported stronghold on the car market.

As a result, VW chief Martin Winterkorn resigned from his post today, and the company has earmarked $7.3 billion — which comes out to a half year of profits for Volkswagen, according to the New York Times — to make sure those affected vehicles truly comply with emissions standards.

Earlier this week, Volkswagen came under scrutiny by the Environmental Protection Agency and subsequently admitted that roughly a half million diesel cars sold in the U.S. had been programmed with "defeat devices," which sense when emissions tests were being conducted and then turn on equipment that would decrease emissions from the car.

At other times, outside of those tests, the so-called "clean diesel" cars would perform with lower emissions standards, "producing as much as 40 times the allowed amount of nitrogen oxide, a pollutant that can contribute to respiratory problems including asthma, bronchitis and emphysema," the Times reports.

"As CEO, I accept responsibility for the irregularities that have been found in diesel engines," Winterkorn said in a resignation statement today. "I am shocked by the events of the past few days. Above all, I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group."

However, Winterkorn, who has led the company since 2007, stopped short of taking direct blame.

"I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part," he continued in the statement.

Winterkorn leaves as shares for the company have declined in the stock market this week, in addition to the severe cut in profits that will now have to go toward updating the affected cars.

The cars in question include Jettas, Beetles, the Audi A3 and Golf cars that have diesel engines and were sold in the U.S. between 2008–2015, as well as diesel-powered Passat vehicles sold in 2014–2015. For more information, go to the Volkswagen recall page.

"It is an outrage that VW would take advantage of its consumers by purposely deceiving them on their mileage on diesel vehicles," Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said Tuesday on the Senate floor.

European lawmakers also echoed the statement.

"For the sake of our consumers and the environment, we need certainty that industry scrupulously respects emissions limits," Lucia Caudet, a European Commission spokesperson, said in a statement.

Image via WikiCommons

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