Volkswagen blamed a small group of engineers for its massive emissions-test cheating scandal Thursday, telling reporters they came up with software to trick tailpipe tests after being unable to hit US standards.
Volkswagen admitted in September that the cheating software had been installed on 11 million cars, including 500,000 diesel-powered vehicles sold in the United States. The revelation has left the company facing $18 billion in fines from American regulators and prompted the resignation of CEO Martin Winterkorn.
In an update on the company's internal investigation Thursday, Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch told reporters that engineers came up with the scheme in 2005, when they were unable to hit tough US standards for nitrogen oxide emissions within their allotted budget and timetable. And when a solution to their problem became available, "It was not employed to the full extent possible," the company said in a written statement.
"It proves not to have been a one-time error, but rather a chain of errors that were allowed to happen," Poetsch said in a company statement. However, he added to reporters that "Based on what we know today, it was a very limited group which acted irresponsibly."
Poetsch said the company had suspended nine managers suspected of being involved in the scandal and promised the company would beef up its internal oversights.
"No business transaction justifies overstepping legal and ethical bounds," he said.
Follow VICE News on twitter: @vicenews