German auto giant Volkswagen said today it is halting sales of four-cylinder VW and Audi diesel cars in the United States in the wake of a scandal over manipulated emissions data.
“I can confirm that sales have been halted,” a company spokesman told AFP, responding to media reports.
The models concerned accounted for 23 percent of VW brand cars sold in the United States in August. Between January and August, the group sold nearly 240,000 cars in the US.
The scandal, which came to light on Friday, could lead to financial fines of up to USD 18 billion for VW, as well as threatening the brand’s image in the US and the rest of the world.
According to the US authorities, VW equipped 482,000 cars in the country with a sophisticated software that turns off emissions controls when driving normally and turns them on only when the car is undergoing an emissions test.
VW chief executive Martin Winterkorn issued an apology and said the group had ordered an external investigation into the matter.
The news sent VW shares into a tailspin on the Frankfurt stock exchange, where they were showing a loss of 21.8 per cent at 127 euros at 1100 GMT.