Environmental Protection Agency Accuses Volkswagen of Bypassing Emissions Standards and Harming Consumers
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has accused German automobile manufacturer Volkswagen of installing software on certain U.S.-sold cars that evades emissions testing standards, releasing harmful pollutants and violating US federal emissions standards. Environmental criminal charges could be pursued by the EPA.
The EPA referred to the trick as a “defeat device” that tricked regulators who inspected the vehicles into registering correct emissions levels, allowing the cars to pass federal emissions standards.
“This results in cars that meet emissions standards in the laboratory or testing station, but during normal operation, emit nitrogen oxides, or NOx, at up to 40 times the standard,” the EPA said in a press release.
According to the regulatory agency, 482,000 Volkswagen vehicles with diesel engines violated federal emissions standards: this includes the Volkswagen 2009-2014 Jetta, Beetle, and Golf, along with the 2014-2015 Passat, and the 2009-2015 Audi A3.
The vehicles emitted nitrogen oxides at 40 times the standard level. This pollutant can exasperate lung conditions including asthma, which means that many US citizens have been harmed by this violation of emissions standards.
“VW was concealing the facts from the EPA, the state of California and from consumers. We expected better from VW,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, in a conference call with reporters. “We thought it was important to inform the public right away of these violations.”
“Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health,” Giles added.
The EPA said that part of the environmental criminal charges will involve a recall, as the government will require Volkswagen to fix the cars for free. The vehicles are otherwise safe to drive, the EPA stated, and owners may continue to use their cars until the recall notice has been issued.
The state of California, which has strict environmental criminal laws, has launched an investigation.
“Our goal now is to ensure that the affected cars are brought into compliance, to dig more deeply into the extent and implications of Volkswagen’s efforts to cheat on clean air rules, and to take appropriate further action,” California Air Resources Board Executive Officer Richard Corey said in the statement.
“Working closely with the California Air Resources Board, the EPA is committed to making sure that all automakers play by the same rules. The EPA will continue to investigate these very serious matters,” Giles said of the California investigation.
Volkswagen adopted a “sophisticated algorithm” which turned on full emissions controls in the vehicles when they were being inspected for emissions performance, but otherwise turned the controls off.
The EPA issued an official “notice of violation” to Volkswagen , and the automaker reported that they are working closely with the EPA to correct this serious environmental crime. However, Volkswagen will not otherwise comment on potential pending federal environmental criminal charges, lawsuits, or other legal action against them.
The Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. is now investigating the potential fraud by Volkswagen to consumers who purchased their diesels cars.
If you own one of the vehicles listed below, contact our legal team now 803-252-4800.
- Jetta (2009-2015)
- Beetle (2009-2015)
- Audi A3 (2009-2015)
- Golf (2009-2015)
- Passat (2014-2015)