Volkswagen Fraud Lawsuit
EPA Accuses Volkswagen of Cheating on Diesel Emissions Test
VW CEO Winterkorn admits no knowledge of wrongdoing, but resigns
On September 18, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Volkwagen AG has been cheating on clean air rules since 2009. One week later, the CEO of Volkswagen AG, Martin Winterkorn, issued an apology and resigned as CEO, a position that he has held since 2007. During his statement, Winterkorn, a former head of VW engineering, denied personal knowledge of the cheating, but took responsibility by stepping down. These violations take on a more serious note, since this was a premeditated act which required the active knowledge and participation of large numbers, perhaps entire departments, of VW employees, which caused the affected cars to perform differently while being tested than on the road. Winterkorn’s denials become less credible with those facts in mind.
Software was installed by Volkswagen in the Electronic Control Module (ECM) of TDI diesel cars, called a “defeat device” by the EPA, which would detect the speed of the vehicle, position of the steering wheel (steering wheels are stationary on the test rack), how long the engine had been running, and the barometric pressure. When the software determined that the vehicle was on the test rack, it would turn on pollution control equipment resulting in much lower emissions, and would then turn the pollution control off when it detected the vehicle was on the road, resulting in higher engine performance, but simultaneously producing up to 40 times the legal limit of Nitrogen Oxides (NOx).
The detection of this scheme was actually the result of testing intended to tout the performance of vehicles using alternate fuels. The International Council on Clean Transportation commissioned West Virginia University (WVU) to show European regulators how well diesel cars could meet the strict emission limits set by the U.S. What the researchers found, however, was that vehicles that had passed emissions rack tests mandated by the EPA, came nowhere close to those results when road tested.
WVU reported their findings to the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) in May 2014. Volkswagen’s response was that “technical issues” were to blame, that unknown conditions during road tests skewed the results. When it became apparent to Volkswagen that their TDI diesel vehicles would not be certified for the 2016 model year, they reluctantly admitted to having rigged the vehicles.
These “defeat devices” were installed on half a million vehicles on the road in the U.S. The names of the affected models are well known, such as the Volkswagen Jetta, Beetle, Golf, and Passat, and the Audi A3, built since 2009 with Type EA189 2.0 liter diesel engines. VW later acknowledged that nearly 11 million vehicles sold worldwide had been fitted with this software. Owners of these TDI diesel vehicles paid up to $7,000 more than the equivalent gasoline powered VW, and as of the EPA’s announcement, those cars now have significantly diminished value.
The EPA has ordered that Volkswagen recall the nearly 500,000 affected vehicles in the U.S., and made to comply with EPA’s clean air standards. Fixing the cars to comply with EPA standards will negatively affect the horsepower and fuel efficiency of the vehicles. In California, these vehicles, cannot be registered, driven, or resold until they obtain a Certificate of Compliance (COC) with California’s strict emission standards.
Nevada Volkswagen Fraud Lawyers
Owners of 2009 and later Volkswagen Jettas, Beetles, Golfs, and Passats and Audi A3 with 4-cylinder 2.0 liter TDI diesel engines paid up to a $7,000 premium to have “clean diesel” cars, not knowing that the manufacturer had fitted the vehicle with software which caused different performance on the test rack than on the road. Volkswagen AG has admitted that they equipped up to 11 million vehicles worldwide with a “defeat device” which allowed these cars to pass emissions testing, but in reality the cars were spewing up to 40 times the legal limit of NOx into the atmosphere in “real life” use. These cars now have significantly diminished value. If you are the owner of one of these vehicles, we want to talk to you. Our lawyers are interested in discussing your potential case…call (702) 444-4444 today.
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