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The first hearing in what is likely to be a grinding, years-long trial opens at 10 am (0800 GMT) in Brunswick, around 30 kilometres (19 miles) from VW headquarters in the northern city of Wolfsburg/FILE

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VW chief apologizes over emissions scandal on first US trip

The Wolfsburg-based group admits it installed software in around 11 million diesel cars of its VW, Audi, SEAT and Skoda brands worldwide that helped them evade emissions standards/FILE

The Wolfsburg-based group admits it installed software in around 11 million diesel cars of its VW, Audi, SEAT and Skoda brands worldwide that helped them evade emissions standards/FILE

DETROIT, United States, Jan 11 – Volkswagen chief executive Matthias Mueller on Sunday apologized for cheating diesel car emissions tests on his first official US visit since the scandal broke in September.

“We know we deeply disappointed our customers, the responsible government bodies, and the general public here in America,” the head of the German carmaker said at a media reception on the eve of the Detroit auto show.

“I apologize for what went wrong at Volkswagen,” he added, promising that the auto giant is “fully committed to making things right.”

Mueller also said Volkswagen plans to make an additional $900 million investment in the United States to build a new mid-size SUV.

The investment at VW’s Chattanooga plant will create approximately 2,000 jobs, Mueller said.

“The US is and remains a core market for the Volkswagen Group,” the CEO said, as his company battles to overcome a deep crisis over the emissions scandal.

The Wolfsburg-based group admits it installed software in around 11 million diesel cars of its VW, Audi, SEAT and Skoda brands worldwide that helped them evade emissions standards.

The so-called defeat devices turn on pollution controls when the car is undergoing testing, and off when it is back on the road, allowing it to spew out harmful levels of nitrogen oxide.

The affair severely damaged Volkswagen’s reputation and spawned a host of investigations in several countries.

VW has been tight-lipped about Mueller’s schedule during his visit, but the US Environmental Protection Agency has said he is scheduled to meet with its administrator Gina McCarthy on Wednesday.

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