NEW YORK - The chief executive of Volkswagen America, Michael Horn, used unusually candid language to apologize and admit wrongdoing after the German car giant was caught cheating in US pollution measuring tests.
"Our company was dishonest, with the EPA and the California Air Resources board, and with all of you and - in my German words - we have totally screwed up," Horn said at an event in New York late Monday, according to video posted by CNBC.
Horn pledged to "make things right with the government, the public, our customers, our employees and also very important, our dealers."
Volkswagen, the world's largest automaker by sales, has revealed that 11 million diesel cars worldwide are equipped with devices that can cheat pollution tests.
The scandal went public Friday when US regulators ordered the company to fix the defect and said they were launching a probe.
The US Department of Justice has reportedly launched a criminal investigation and the scandal has also led to France calling for a Europe-wide probe into the revelations and South Korea summoning Volkswagen officials.
The German firm halted all diesel vehicle sales in the United States during the US probe, which could lead to fines of more than US$18 billion.
Volkswagen has said it was setting aside US$7.3 billion (S$10.3 billion) in provisions for the third quarter to cover the potential costs of the fallout.
VW shares dived 17 percent on Monday and plunged by another 23 percent Tuesday to a low of 101.30 euros (S$160.23)during trade on the Frankfurt stock exchange.