NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Volkswagen's CEO says he's "endlessly sorry" for the company's diesel emissions scandal.
"Let's be clear about this, our company was dishonest," Michael Horn said.
The world's top-selling car maker disclosed a shocking secret: About 11 million of its diesel vehicles were fitted with software programmed to switch engines to a cleaner mode during official emissions tests.
"The fact that Volkswagen had to write very specific per-controlled parameters to pass this, is the same as pre-meditated murder. They knew exactly what to test for, what control parameters were needed and then they wrote specific software to pass that," auto technician Thomas Alexander said.
Alexander, who has 25 years of experience, said he's never seen such a cover-up. According to the EPA, the software enabled cars to drive more powerfully on the road while emitting as much as 40 times the legal pollution limit.
"That would be like an 18-wheeler fully loaded, driving down the highway," Alexander said.
"EPA is talking about a fine of potentially as much as $18 billion, which would be the highest ever levied against an automaker for, well, for any reason," Dam Abuelsamid said.
Alexander said replacing the software will not be easy, and he fears some vehicle owners won't have it fixed.
"If you love the environment, please go in and have it done; however, you will notice a loss in engine power and a loss in performance as a result of whatever they have to do to fix this. It's going to have an impact on driver ability and power," Alexander said.
The White House is also weighing in, saying the Obama Administration takes violations of the Clean Act very seriously.
"In German word, we totally screwed up," Horn said.
According to the Washington Post, sources indicate the Justice Department launched a criminal investigation into whether Volkswagen cheated on emissions standards.