Volkswagen CEO sees no diesel in future of U.S. business

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WOLFSBURG, Germany/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Volkswagen will no longer offer diesel vehicles in the United States, its global brand chief said on Tuesday, ending speculation the company might return to the technology after its emissions scandal fades from memory.

The comments by Volkswagen brand Chief Executive Herbert Diess, first reported by European business daily Handelsblatt and confirmed to Reuters by a VW spokesman, were the strongest yet to deny the possibility that diesel - once a quarter of the brand’s U.S. sales - could be a part of Volkswagen’s future U.S. lineup.

Volkswagen reached a $14.7 billion settlement with 475,000 U.S. owners of diesel vehicles and federal and California regulators in October after admitting to installing secret software in its diesel cars to cheat emissions tests.

In September, Diess told Reuters at the Paris Auto Show the company was not yet ready to abandon diesel technology, and could continue to offer diesel models for the U.S. market.

Just last week at the Los Angeles Auto Show, the CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, Hinrich Woebcken, told reporters he did not believe diesel would ever “come back in the same magnitude as we’ve seen it up to now” in the U.S. market.

“Emissions standards in following years are getting tougher and tougher,” Woebcken said. “Why don’t you put the money and investments ... to comply with these standards, why don’t you put the money on the spot where the future is?” he asked, speaking of VW’s new focus on electric vehicles.

Luxury car brand Audi, a subsidiary of Volkswagen, still sees a diesel vehicle as possible, its Americas president said last week.

“Once we hopefully get past everything, I see an opportunity for potentially, probably to offer it on one model, and that model would probably be the Q7 SUV,” Audi of America President Scott Keogh told Reuters.

Reporting By Andreas Cremer and Alexandria Sage; Editing by Grant McCool