U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal says Volkswagen should face a maximum federal fine of $18 billion after the German automaker admitted it installed software designed to manipulate diesel engine exhaust emissions.
The Connecticut Democrat said Monday that Volkswagen "needs to come clean with consumers." He mentioned the case of Drew Mizak, a Plainfield teacher who bought a 2014 Passat believing it was an environmentally friendly and fuel-efficient car.
"The fact is VW needs to clean up its mess and come clean with consumers like Drew who bought this VW thinking they were going to get an environmentally friendly car and what they received was a fraud on wheels," Blumenthal said.
Volkswagon said repairs could take up to two years and they could impact fuel efficiency and performance. Blumenthal said he believes car owners should have the option to get money back or have their vehicle bought back by Volkswagon.
"That is completely unacceptable. It mocks the buyers who in good faith bought these cars," Blumenthal said.
Recent reports said between 2009 and 2015, Volkswagon lied to regulators and the public to artificially lower emissions of the Volkswagon and Audi diesel vehicles.
Mizak is one of an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 owners of affected diesel Volkswagens in Connecticut. Mizak has sued the automaker.
"I honestly thought it was a joke. I didn't think it could be real because VW had earned our trust," Mizak said. "VW built a brand that was based on trust and reliability and talking to my friends who own VW's, we honestly feel betrayed in this."
Blumenthal said Volkswagen should offer customers who bought an affected vehicle the option to sell the car to the auto company for the full value. He added the company's offer to fix the cars within two or three years is "completely unacceptable."
Copyright 2015 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.