The Latest: Following prank, VW concedes it's a target

AP News
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Posted: Mar 01, 2016 6:24 AM
The Latest: Following prank, VW concedes it's a target

GENEVA (AP) — The Latest on the auto show taking place in the Swiss city of Geneva (all times local):

12:15 a.m.

The new normal at Volkswagen?

The VW executive who kept his calm as a protester mocked its emissions scandal during a glitzy media presentation at the Geneva Auto show says such stunts are "something that you just have to live with."

A wrench-wielding prankster dressed up as a VW mechanic crawled up under a display car to feign a repair on a car that marketing chief Juergen Stackmann had just ridden up in at the show Tuesday.

After being interrupted by the protester, Stackmann quipped: "It doesn't need repairs: It's a perfect car." Security guards then whisked away the protester.

Afterward, Stackmann told The Associated Press: "Obviously we know at the moment that we are the brand that attracts a lot of attention — and we have to live with that."

Volkswagen has admitted that up to 11 million vehicles worldwide may be affected by a diesel emissions-rigging scandal after revelations last fall from the U.S. Justice Department.

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11:50 a.m.

Ford predicts demand for small SUVs "is here to stay" in Europe, and says lower oil prices won't translate into a significant drop in fuel costs in the region.

Ford Europe chief Jim Farley spoke Tuesday to The Associated Press at the Geneva auto show, where the Detroit automaker is launching the Edge as its flagship for the SUV market in Europe.

At just over 4 meters (13 feet) long, the Edge is small enough to fit many urban parking spaces in Europe, but also sits high up for a sense of safety for drivers.

Farley said plunging oil prices aren't leading to as sharp a drop in costs at the pump because much of the fuel price is made up of taxes in Europe.

Ford is also among automakers working on "full autonomy" self-driving cars, which he predicted will hit markets within four years, though Ford will wait until it can make the vehicles affordable for a broad customer base.

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10:25 a.m.

A cheeky protester dressed as a Volkswagen mechanic disrupted the automaker's media presentation at the Geneva auto show on Tuesday, exemplifying the German company's nagging image problem following an emissions scandal.

The protester alluded to Volkswagen's cheating on U.S. emissions tests revealed last year. Holding a wrench and a prop labeled "cheat box," the protester walked on stage and looked under a display car as a Volkswagen executive spoke.

In German-accented English, he said CEO Matthias Mueller "said it was OK as long as no one finds out about it." Security guards then escorted the man away.

Volkswagen admitted to U.S. regulators in September it had used illegal software in its so-called "Clean Diesel" engines, allowing the cars to pass laboratory emissions tests while spewing high levels of harmful nitrogen oxide when operating.

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9:35 a.m.

BMW's CEO introduced new versions of the company's big luxury sedan at the Geneva International Motor Show and cautioned that sales growth in Europe and China will only be modest this year.

Harald Krueger showed off a new plug-in hybrid of the 7-Series, saying customers who wanted to set an example were asking for a low-emissions vehicle. For those wanting top performance, the company is rolling out a version with a 12-cylinder, 610 horsepower engine that can accelerate to 100 kph (62 mph) in just 3.9 seconds.

Krueger said Tuesday the company expected "moderate sales growth" this year after a record year in which the company sold 2.2 million cars. He said he expected sales growth in Europe and China only in the lower single digit percent range.