The company is accused of circumventing emissions control systems since 2008.
According to the EPA, Volkswagen diesel engines polluted at up to 40 times the emissions limits for nitrogen oxides when measured under maximum vehicle load and throttle. Under normal operating conditions, the emissions were more in the range of 10 to 20 times over the federal limit.
It also appears that testing vehicles in “cheat” mode also allowed for better fuel economy and performance. Volkswagen was able to enhance its claims about fuel efficiency and other features by cheating the system.
As a result of Volkswagen’s deception, the company agreed to a settlement of $14.7 billion to compensate vehicle owners and address environmental concerns.
It’s one of the largest settlements of its kind to date.
Volkswagen Fails to Comply with Clean Air Act Regulations
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of violation to Volkswagen in September 2015. Two months later, the EPA notified the company of an additional violation found in its 3.0-liter V6 diesel engines.
According to the EPA’s investigation, Audi, Porsche, and Volkswagen were emitting higher levels of pollution than acceptable, threatening human health and the environment.
As a result of the deception, the EPA has begun looking at its system of measuring pollution and has begun to examine whether other manufacturers might be cheating the system. The agency will conduct sample tests on all diesel passenger vehicles sold for the new model year and is adding new tests to detect so-called “defeat devices.”
At Volkswagen, a number of executives were terminated and moved to other positions. The scandal has also affected the company’s stock value. Investigations turned up a number of unethical practices and a concerted effort on the part of the company to violate government regulations and cheat customers.
What Vehicles Were Affected by the Emissions Scandal?
- Volkswagen Beetle and Beetle Convertible (2013-2015)
- Volkswagen Golf (2010-2015)
- Volkswagen Golf SportWagen (2015)
- Volkswagen Jetta, Jetta SportWagen (2009-2014)
- Volkswagen Passat (2012-2015)
- Volkswagen Touareg (2009-2016)
Several Porsche and Audi models were also affected.
Why are Regulators Concerned about Emissions from Volkswagen Vehicles?
The release of nitrogen oxides is dangerous to human health and the environment, especially at the high levels Volkswagen engines are emitting them.
According to the EPA, exposure can result in serious health problems, including an increased risk for asthma attacks and other respiratory illness. In some cases, these health issues are serious enough to require a trip to the hospital.
The goal of the emissions standards is to protect humans and the environment from long-term damage. VW and other vehicle manufacturers who try to cheat the standards are showing a lack of concern for the health of consumers and for the environment.
What Should I Do If I Own an Affected Volkswagen Vehicle?
For the moment, the cars are considered safe and are legal to operate.
The October settlement provides an option for owners who wish to sell their vehicles back to Volkswagen to do so and to receive extra compensation.
Owners will receive restitution and NADA clean trade-in value. It’s estimated that most vehicle owners will receive the car’s former book value, as well as an addition $5000 to $9900 depending on the condition of the vehicle.
The goal of the buy-back arrangement was to compensate vehicle owners who were misled and allow them to purchase a new replacement vehicle and to punish Volkswagen for its deception.
Owners who wish to keep their vehicles will have the option of doing so and participating in a recall that will bring their engines up to current emissions standards.
Volkswagen is expected to make a number of additional “goodwill” efforts in an attempt to make up for its actions. The government has required 85 percent of the affected vehicles be removed from the road or fixed by mid-2019.