WASHINGTON — The bipartisan U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday told Volkswagen it wants to see documents and a detailed timeline about its diesel-emissions cheating scandal by October 13.
"It seems Volkswagen had a dirty little secret and it's not just consumers who are feeling betrayed," said Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) in a statement. "There are many unanswered questions and we will get the facts and the answers that the American people deserve."
Volkswagen admitted to manipulating the software in its diesel vehicles to skirt U.S. and California emissions standards. Approximately 482,000 of the cars, including the 2012-'15 Volkswagen Passat TDI and 2009-'15 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, have been sold in the U.S.
Volkswagen AG on Tuesday said it has an "action plan to refit diesel vehicles" affected by the rigged software. The German automaker said in a statement, "Technical solutions are being developed and will be presented to responsible authorities before end of October."
No further details were provided.
The committee wants to see any communications with Volkswagen suppliers involved in software development and any information about recalls or possible technical solutions to address the problem.
The affected vehicles use a so-called "defeat device" or software that "sensed" when the vehicles were undergoing emissions testing and ensured emissions control systems were operating to pass the tests. During normal use, the software would switch to a different mode that produced emissions up to 40 times above EPA standards and in violation of the U.S. Clean Air Act.
"The Clean Air Act has been put in place for a very good reason — to protect the public health and keep Americans safe," said Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) in a statement. "We will continue to investigate this deceptive activity on the part of Volkswagen to ensure that these blatant violations do not happen again and consumers can trust the products that they buy."
The House committee also wants more details from the EPA about its investigation before a planned hearing on the VW scandal.
A Volkswagen spokesman late Tuesday told Edmunds, "The cars are perfectly safe to drive."
Edmunds says: Consumers may get some answers soon as legislators put VW on the hot seat.