The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board (EPA and CARB) recently revealed their findings that while testing diesel cars of the Volkswagen Group they have detected manipulations that violate American environmental standards.
Apparently, both Volkswagen and Audi were accused of “using a defeat device on approximately 482,000 cars for cheating” during official emissions tests.
The software in question was used on the Volkswagen Beetle, Golf, Jetta and Audi A3 for the 2009-2015 model years and Volkswagen Passat 2014 model year and 2015 model year. All these vehicles are equipped with a 4-cylinder 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine and have a special software that was able to automatically detect when the car was undergoing EPA emissions testing and it turned on the car’s full emissions controls device. After that, the software switched off the device during real world driving.
This is the explanation given by EPA and they say the software allowed all those VW and Audi models to fully comply with the emissions standards during lab testing, but in real-word driving the nitrogen oxides emissions are up to 40 times above the allowable levels.
This is considered as a serious crime where under the current federal law, EPA can apply a maximum fine of $37,500 per car. This means Volkswagen and Audi could face a total fine of up to $18 billion for the alleged violations.
Following the shocking news, Prof Dr Martin Winterkorn, CEO of Volkwagen AG has released an official statement on the matter.
“The Board of Management at Volkswagen AG takes these findings very seriously. I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public. We will cooperate fully with the responsible agencies, with transparency and urgency, to clearly, openly, and completely establish all of the facts of this case. Volkswagen has ordered an external investigation of this matter.”
“We do not and will not tolerate violations of any kind of our internal rules or of the law.”
“The trust of our customers and the public is and continues to be our most important asset. We at Volkswagen will do everything that must be done in order to re-establish the trust that so many people have placed in us, and we will do everything necessary in order to reverse the damage this has caused. This matter has first priority for me, personally, and for our entire Board of Management.”
At the moment, VW has halted sales on vehicles equipped with the 2.0-litre TDI diesel engine across the market in the U.S. Apart from that, the German automaker has also been barred from selling 2016 model-year vehicles that use this engine. Last year, VW diesel vehicles made up about 22% of all VW sales, which means these restrictions will have a big impact on the brand’s sales performance until they are approved for sale again.