The fallout from Volkswagen's installation of an emissions "defeat device" on nearly 500,000 diesel-fueled models in the US is already hitting the automaker hard on the German stock exchange. At one point, the share price plummeted 23 percent to erase the equivalent of $17.6 billion in value. Things eventually bounced back slightly to a still severe 19.23 percent loss, according to Bloomberg as of this writing.

The scandal couldn't come at a worse time for chairman Martin Winterkorn. The VW supervisory board takes up the issue of renewing his contract on September 25, Bloomberg reports. If things get bad enough, the door could be open for a new boss to step in.

Dealers in the US might start feeling the pain from this, as well. Affected 2015 VWs that are still at showrooms are now under a stop sale. Until the issue is straightened out, the Environmental Protection Agency isn't certifying the company's 2016 diesel models with the 2.0 TDI, either.

The diesel emissions problem was first discovered by research from West Virginia University and the International Council on Clean Transportation. In some cases, the engines can produce 40 times more nitrogen oxides than allowed. The automaker could be on the hook for $18 billion in fines for the breach, but the actual figure is expected to be lower.

In response, Winterkorn has issued a public apology and ordered an independent investigation into what happened. The EPA and California Air Resources Board have also been looking into the situation. This could become an international problem, though. According to The Detroit News, European authorities might begin similar inquires to check the automaker's diesel emissions there.‚Äč

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