EPA says Volkswagen intentionally violates clean air standards

19 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

US accuses Volkswagen of ‘cheating’ on pollution controls.

New York: US regulators charged Volkswagen on Friday with manufacturing vehicles designed to evade government pollution controls and said the German auto giant should urgently fix nearly 500,000 cars. Volkswagen has been ordered to recall almost 500,000 diesel cars by the United States government after it emerged that it had used computer software to cheat clean-air laws.Washington: The US Environmental Protection Agency said Friday that Volkswagen intentionally skirted clean air laws by using a piece of software that enabled about 500,000 of its diesel cars to emit fewer smog-causing pollutants during testing than in real-world driving conditions.

The cars employed a sophisticated software algorithm to detect when the car was undergoing official emissions testing and turn on full emissions controls only on that time. When EPA and California demanded an explanation this month, Volkswagen admitted that cars contained “defeat devices” meant to trick official tests, the EPA said. “Our goal now is to ensure that the affected cars are brought into compliance, to dig more deeply into the extent and implications of Volkswagen’s efforts to cheat on clean air rules, and to take appropriate further action,” said Richard Corey, executive officer at the California Air Resources Board.

The origin of the case was a report last year by the International Council for Clean Transportation and West Virginia University that documented elevated emissions from some Volkswagen cars. Volkswagen said it had received notice of an investigation “related to certain emissions compliance matters” from the EPA, the California board and the Justice Department.

When regulators initially raised the issue with Volkswagen, the automaker blamed the elevated pollution on “various technical issues and unexpected in-use conditions,” EPA said in the violation order. The potential fine for the offense is $37,500 (€33,160) per vehicle under the Clean Air Act, yielding a potential fine of as much as $18b (over €15b) according to US media reports. Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch, an evrionmental campaign group, said: “The charges here are truly appalling: that Volkswagen knowingly installed software that produced much higher smog-forming emissions from diesel vehicles in the real world than in pre-sale tests.” Mr O’Donnell accused VW of “cheating not just car buyers but the breathing public.” He said the charges undercut industry rhetoric about “clean diesel” cars. Affected models include: Jetta (model years 2009-15); Beetle (model years 2009-15); Audi A3 (model years 2009-15); Golf (model years 2009-15); Passat (model years 2014-15).

The Volkswagens likely perform better with the emissions controls defeated than they do with them on, said Aaron Bragman, Detroit bureau chief for the Cars.com automotive shopping and research site. Otherwise, he said, there would be no reason to have a setting that turns on the controls for tests and turns them off for regular driving. “Obviously it’s changing the way the engine operates somehow that may not be pleasing to consumers,” he said. “It would follow that it would put it into a very different feel in terms of operation of the vehicle.”

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