SCANDAL CONTINUES IN 2016: Despite its ongoing emissions-cheating scandal, German automaker Volkswagen is still planning to push diesel sales in the US. Image: AP
Detroit - German automakers will continue to push diesel sales in the United States despite the Volkswagen pollution-cheating scandal, the head of the VDA automaker's association said at the 2015 Detroit auto show.
VDA president Matthias Wissmann said: "Despite the resistance we are naturally experiencing here in the US, the German automotive industry will stand by its diesel strategy."
Diesel engines, which are about 30% more fuel efficient than petrol engines, can help the United States and other countries meet stringent carbon-dioxide reduction targets, Wissmann told reporters.
And, despite the problems at Volkswagen, advanced exhaust technology allows diesel engines to "comply with the most stringent pollutant limit values... completely legally without any tricks."
Wissmann said: "We stand firmly behind diesel vehicles."
The remarks come hours after Volkswagen chief executive Matthias Mueller apologized for cheating diesel car emissions tests on his first official US visit since the scandal broke in September.
VW admitted it installed software in around 11 million diesel cars of its VW, Audi, SEAT and Skoda brands worldwide that helped them evade emissions standards after US regulators discovered the problem.
The so-called defeat devices turn on pollution controls when the car is undergoing testing, and off when it is back on the road, allowing it to spew out harmful levels of nitrogen oxide.
Wissmann said at a press conference on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show: "The diesel strategy that the German automotive industry has been pursuing for many years, in particular on the important US market, has suffered considerably as a results of the events.
"I am sure that Volkswagen will do the utmost to regain lost confidence in North America."
While this will not happen "overnight," Wissmann said all German automakers will "work hard to convince consumers of diesel's advantages for fuel efficiency and CO2 reduction."
German carmakers account for 95 percent of diesel sales in the United States, which comprise just three percent of overall auto sales.
Diesel became popular in Europe after governments shifted tax policies in the 1990s in order to cut carbon emissions.
It never really caught on with American consumers, who face lower fuel taxes and were unwilling to pay thousands upfront for an engine that would save them money over time.