Just in case you have been under a rock and haven’t heard the news about the Volkswagon Emissions Scandal allow me to break it down for you. Volkswagon installed software on it’s diesel models from issued between 2008 and 2015. This software was able to sense when emissions testing was in progress based on the position of the steering wheel, vehicle speed, the duration of the engine’s operation and barometric pressure. Once the software picked up on these inputs, it went into a type of “test mode” when the front wheels of the car were on a dynamometer. This allowed emissions controls to run full-tilt during official testing, but emitted 10 to 40 times the legal amount while on the road!
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The allegations were made by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Sept. 18, after independent researchers raised questions about emissions levels, prompting government agencies to investigate further. Once regulators demanded an explanation, the EPA said Volkswagen “admitted” their cars contained those defeat devices.
VW has had varied responses from their CEO, Martin Winterkorn, doing a mea culpa saying that they were “deeply sorry” to have broken trust with their consumers. During a launch event in Brooklyn this week, VW’s North America CEO, Michael Horn, made a starker concession, saying “our company was dishonest” and that Volkswagen “totally screwed up.” Still, a press release on Sept. 21 still referred the defeat devices as software “irregularities.”
They face up to $37,500 per vehicle, the EPA told reporters last week. With around 482,000 of its diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. since 2008, this could mean a penalty of up to $18 billion. This is not all! Some reports suggest that the U.S. Department of Justice has launched a criminal probe into whether the company deliberately cheated emissions tests. The EPA has not yet forced Volkswagen to issue a total recall but expects to do so in the near future. Volkswagen would foot the bill for any repairs, although the EPA claims affected diesel cars are still safe to drive.
This could also extend to other countries. The scandal has spread across the globe and Volkswagen now estimates 11 million vehicles worldwide are equipped with the defeat device software. European authorities are reportedly planning to call a meeting of national representatives to discuss the case, though Italy and Switzerland are among the few that have launched their own investigations. Germany, Volkswagen’s home country, is also planning to implement additional testing.
Moral of the story folks don’t mess with the EPA and emissions testing! As always, DRIVE SAFE!