Report: Volkswagen Lobbied for More Tax Credits for Diesels

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Volkswagen lobbied hard in 2011 to receive the same — or higher — clean vehicle credits as electric cars, the New York Times reported Wednesday. “They wanted a special deal for diesel cars that we now know weren’t even meeting the standard,” Margo Oge, a former director of the E.P.A. Office of Transportation and Air Quality, told the New York Times. The LA Times reported that roughly $51 million in credits was paid by taxpayers in 2009 for diesel cars that lied about mileage and emissions — essentially a cheap bar trick. A U.S. Senate committee is investigating possible fraud by the automaker for receiving taxpayer money for cars that spewed up to 40 times more nitrogen oxide than allowed. U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Ron Wyden sent a letter to the automaker Tuesday, according to Automotive News, asking how the automaker certified its car for a $1,300 credit based on mileage in 2008. The New York Times report said Volkswagen lobbied federal authorities for higher incentives on their diesel vehicles, claiming that they were — in some cases — better than electric vehicles. “These people had religion,” Oge told the New York Times. “And that religion was diesel. They simply did not believe in electric powertrains and thought they were a waste of time.” Oge said that now-suspended engineer Wolfgang Hatz was particularly outspoken about the tax credits going to diesel cars. The Wall Street Journal reported that investigators have focused their attention on Hatz, who was Volkswagen’s chief engineer at the time, and Ulrich Hackenberg who was on Volkswagen’s board for development. According to Oge, who is now a vice chairman at DeltaWing Technologies, representatives from Volkswagen in Germany were upset when authorities didn’t grant the same credits to those cars. “I never had a problem dealing with the Americans. The U.S. Volkswagen people would always come and apologize to us after meeting with the Germans,” she told the Times. “My sense was that things were being dictated by Germany.”