Senate panel probing Volkswagen’s use of tax credits

FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2015, file photo, a brand sign of the Volkswagen car company is seen at the car factory in Wolfsburg, Germany. More than a decade ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency helped develop a technology that ultimately allowed an independent laboratory to catch Volkswagen’s elaborate cheating on car emissions tests. But EPA did not apply that technology on its own tests of diesel passenger cars and instead focused on trucks,thus missing its best chance to foil the German carmaker’s deception as early as 2007. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber, File)

The Senate Finance Committee has opened an investigation into Volkswagen’s use of a federal tax credit intended for fuel-efficient cars as the company’s emissions-rigging scandal widens.

Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Ron Wyden of Oregon say in a letter to Volkswagen on Tuesday that more than $50 million in tax subsidies may have gone to VW owners under false pretenses. Hatch, a Republican, chairs the Finance Committee. Wyden is its senior Democrat.

They said in the letter that the automaker’s use of “defeat devices” in diesel passenger cars raises questions of whether officials lied to the U.S. government in certifying that the VW Jetta and other models met emissions standards needed for owners to claim the $1,300-per-vehicle tax credit.

The letter asks for a response by Oct. 30.

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