Volkswagen accused of cheating emissions tests
Company designed device to deceive tests
The US Government has ordered Volkswagen to recall almost 500,000 cars after discovering that the company had deployed sophisticated software to cheat emission tests allowing its cars to produce up to 40 times more pollution than allowed.
The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) accused VW of installing an illegal “defeat device” software that dramatically reduced nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions readings – but only when the cars were undergoing strict emission tests.
Ethical Consumer reported on the issue earlier in the year, publishing data on the variance between independent tests and the official results of a number of auto makers including VW, BMW and Ford.
The EPA accused Volkswagen of using the device in 482,000 four-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars in the US since 2008. VW had been ordered to recall all the cars, remove the defeat device and improve the cars’ NOx emissions, which create smog and has been linked to increased asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses.
The EPA said Volkswagen could face other action and fines for the alleged breach of the Clean Air Act. The maximum fine for violations of the Act is $37,500 per vehicle, which works out to a maximum possible fine as high as $18bn.
The “defeat device” software was discovered following independent analysis by researchers at West Virginia University, who were promoted into action by the International Council on Clean Technology, an NGO. When confronted with the evidence, VW admitted that its cars were fitted with the “defeat device”.
Shares in Volkswagen fell by another 5% on today after losing almost a fifth of their value on Monday.
The US chief executive of Volkswagen, Michael Horn, said the company “totally screwed up”.
Adding “Our company was dishonest with the EPA, and the California air resources board and with all of you. We must fix the cars to prevent this from ever happening again and we have to make this right."
See where Volkswagen ranks in Ethical Consumer's Buyers Car guide >