VW Cheated on U.S. Diesel Emission Tests
Volkswagen AG has admitted to using special software since 2009 to rig emissions tests and allow its diesel-powered vehicles to comply with U.S. regulations.
The bogus software hiked emissions of smog-forming oxides of nitrogen by as much as 40 times the allowable limit under real-world driving conditions, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Analysts say the ruse probably raised engine fuel economy and performance while helping VW pass U.S. emission standards with cheaper technologies than those used by its rivals.
Affected models to date include the Audi A3 sedan and VW Beetle, Golf, Jetta and Passat cars equipped with 2.0-liter turbocharged engines. VW reportedly also has halted sales of all 2015 U.S. models that use the 4-cylinder powerplant. Worldwide, as many as 11 million vehicles could be affected.
VW faces criminal charges and a maximum federal fine of $18 billion: $37,500 for each of the 482,000 diesels it sold in the U.S. between 2009 and 2015. It also is likely to face multiple lawsuits at the state level demanding compensation for deceiving consumers.
CEO Martin Winterkorn says the company has ordered an independent probe and will "do everything necessary in order to reverse the damage this has caused."
The EPA and the California Air Resources Board launched an investigation into the deception earlier this year after an independent analysis by researchers at West Virginia University raised questions about VW's diesel emissions. That investigation continues. In the meantime, the EPA has refused to certify all 2016 cars equipped with VW's 2.0-liter diesel engine and banned their sale pending an explanation from VW.
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