Contact an Auto Product Liability Attorney for Help
Volkswagen, which also owns the Audi and Porsche brands, passed Toyota earlier this year to become the world’s biggest auto company. But, VW is currently in big trouble because of its attempt to make millions of diesel cars appear cleaner than they are. The company has just announced that it’s recalling nearly half a million cars in the U.S. because they’ve been found to have software that helped them beat emissions testing.
The software, called a “defeat device” by auto regulators, let the cars emit pollutants above legal limits while on the road, but reduced the pollution during emissions tests. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) alleged on Friday that the automaker had used software to trick regulators measuring toxic emissions on its diesel vehicles between 2008 and 2015. The software was designed to recognize when cars were being tested on a dynamometer, one of those large treadmills you see in some car commercials. The cars would pass emissions tests, but would switch to a different mode while driving normally, allowing emission levels to increase as much as 40 times.
Volkswagen announced that it was setting aside half a year’s worth of profits (about $7.3 billion) to cover the cost of fixing the cars to meet pollution standards and for the civil lawsuits the company expects. VW said it hopes that money will help it “win back the trust of our customers.” A total of 488,000 VW and Audi brand vehicles equipped with four-cylinder diesel engines have been recalled in the U.S., with the automaker asking dealers to stop selling diesel engine cars. According to EPA rules, VW could be fined up to $37,500 for each vehicle not in compliance with emissions regulations, leading to a maximum total of $18 billion. The U.S. Justice Department has started a criminal investigation.
The recalled vehicles use a Type EA 189 engine, which are 2-liter engines. The EPA says that the VW automobiles produce a dangerous amount of nitrogen oxide, a pollutant that can contribute to seriously respiratory problems including asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. The models affected include the VW Jetta, Beetle and Golf from 2009 through 2015, the Passat from 2014-2015, and the 2009-2015 model Audi A3.
Volkswagen has not announced what its plans are for how to fix the emissions problem on the cars on the road now. The company could alter the engines so that cars could actually meet their required emissions standards. Doing this would probably lower vehicle fuel economy and performance, causing engines to wear out sooner. For the past several years, VW has been airing commercials that bragged about its “clean diesel” cars. Michael Horn, the president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, said the company, “Totally screwed up.”
Automakers now have an obligation to build cars that are not only safe for passengers, but also the environment. When a large auto company fails to follow the rules, it doesn’t just put people in danger, but the planet itself. If you own a Volkswagen manufactured after 2008, you could be driving a harmful and environmentally dangerous car. Contact the automobile product liability attorneys at Farah & Farah to discuss your next steps. We can be reached at 855-797-9899.