The Volkswagen Group will recall a total of approximately 8.5 million vehicles in Europe (EU28 markets), including some 2.4 million vehicles in Germany, according to KBA. Outside the EU28, each individual country will clarify in detail which emissions classes of the EA 189 engine are in fact affected.
Volkswagen will contact customers and inform them direct. In addition, every Volkswagen customer, for example, can visit the German website www.volkswagen.de/info set up on October 2, 2015 and enter the chassis number of their vehicle to find out straight away whether they are affected. Similar customer websites are active in the other EU countries and for the Audi, SEAT and ŠKODA brands.
Work on the technical solutions detailed in the plan of measures is currently proceeding at full speed. Remedial action on the vehicles will begin in January 2016 – at no cost to our customers. The technical solutions can involve software as well as hardware measures. These are currently being developed for each affected series and each affected model year. All measures will first be presented to the responsible authorities. Volkswagen will subsequently inform the owners of these vehicles over the next weeks and months.
Customers now have clarity with regard to the continued unrestricted use of the vehicles. All of the vehicles affected remain technically safe and roadworthy.
The current successor generation of EA 288 diesel engines (in use since 2012) is not affected.
Note: This text is available from www.volkswagen-media-services.com. The information contained in this press release does not refer to products and services of Volkswagen Group of America and Volkswagen Canada.
Volkswagen has admitted that yet more cars could be affected by emissions cheating software, as it investigates whether another engine type has a ‘defeat device’.
Thus far, only the type EA189 engine has been implicated, prompting a worldwide recall of 11 million vehicles. However, German news agency DPA has reported that the type EA288 engine, a derivative of the EA189 unit, is under investigation by VW engineers to establish if it, too, has the defeat device at the centre of the ‘dieselgate’ scandal.
VW reiterated that current EA288 engines meeting EU6 emissions standards are not affected, but admitted: “Other generations of the EA288 are currently being examined.”
That probably means VW is looking at EU5-standard EA288 engines, sold from 2012 onwards in 1.6- and 2.0-litre capacities. It’s not yet known how many of these vehicles are in circulation.
Earlier this, VW UK boss, Paul Willis, faced a grilling from MPs on the transport select committee and apologised for the scandal. He said: “I’d like to apologise sincerely and unreservedly that Volkswagen has significantly let down its customers and the wider public.”
“We recognise we’ve fallen short of the standards expected and we will take all the necessary steps to regain trust,” he added.
Willis also gave the first clear indication of what work will be undertaken in the recall, which affects some 1.2 million cars in the UK. 1.2- and 2.0-litre cars will only need a software patch, while 1.6-litre cars will also need new injectors, a longer and more expensive fix. He added that the fix should make no difference to fuel economy.
Meanwhile, the Department for Transport has said that it will not make the recall mandatory, contrary to German policy. A spokesman said: “This is VW’s position and VW’s problem. We will continue to put pressure on VW to make sure this [the recall] happens as quickly as possible, so that people in the UK can have these problems fixed.”
The government has also said that owners of affected vehicles will not face higher road tax if it turns out they emit more CO2 than offically stated. It’s a welcome if slightly redundant gesture, as the issue is NOx emissions, which vehicles are not taxed on.
For more information click here
By Only Motors
VW 'EA288' diesel meets EU emission standard
Nobody apart from the VW nerds knew engine codes until a few short weeks ago. Well, apart from the EA888 that's in just about every hot hatch at the moment. But post-'dieselgate', the world is checking up on all the VW diesels. Presumably with some relief then, VW has today confirmed that the EA288 diesel is legal for sale in Europe.
The official line from VW is that: "No software constituting an improper defeat device as defined in law is installed in vehicles with EA288 EU5 as well as EU6-engines in the European Union. Consequently, new vehicles of the Volkswagen Group offered within the European Union with those engines comply with legal requirements and environmental standards."
The EA288 engine is derived from the EA189 that kicked off the whole scandal, of which there is no decision on a European recall. It is sold in 1.6- and 2.0-litre forms, meaning it powers everything from a SEAT Ibiza to a VW Sharan. Pretty much every other VW diesel model you can think of used it as well, with eight Audis, five Skodas and five SEATs also using the engine. So it's probably saved quite a lot of recall hassle for VW to know it's legal...
So that's the latest for now, but you suspect this can't be the end of it. More if (when?) it's announced.
Volkswagen emissions scandal
"Dieselgate" and "Emissionsgate" redirect here. For other diesel emissions scandals, see Diesel emissions scandal.
2010s diesel emissions scandal involving Volkswagen
|1999||New US Tier 2 rules established to replace Tier 1. NO|
x limit decreasing from 1.0 g/mi to 0.07 g/mi
|2004–2009||Phase in period of diesel emissions rules|
|2007||Volkswagen suspends sales of current diesel lines awaiting technology to meet new standards. Bosch allegedly warns Volkswagen not to use its software illegally|
|2008||Volkswagen announces new Clean Diesel cars. Some cars are described in Europe as "EU4 emissions standard (EU5 compliant)". Cars with the test-rigging software are sold in the UK.|
|2009||US Tier 2 fully in effect,|
Volkswagen TDI cars go on sale in US. In Europe, some models are now being described as Euro emission class 5, a change from class 4 in 2008.
|2009–2015||Volkswagen diesel sales in the US rebound, Clean Diesels win several environmental awards, receive tax breaks|
|2014||International Council on Clean Transportation asks WVU CAFEE to help demonstrate the benefits of US diesel technology, hoping to have Europe follow suit|
|May 2014||Instead, CAFEE finds discrepancies showing poor on-road emissions. Results presented at public forum and published, getting attention of EPA|
|2014–2015||EPA repeats tests, and contacts Volkswagen for explanation of poor real world NO|
|Dec 2014||Volkswagen orders voluntary recall of TDI cars but CARB and EPA not satisfied|
|3 September 2015||EPA threatens to not certify 2016 diesels, Volkswagen responds by admitting software was programmed to cheat testing|
|18 September 2015||Public announcement by EPA of order to recall 2009–2015 cars|
|20 September 2015||Volkswagen admits deception, issues public apology|
|21 September 2015||First business day after news, Volkswagen stock down 20 percent|
|22 September 2015||Volkswagen to spend $7.3B to cover costs of scandal; stock declines another 17 percent|
|23 September 2015||CEO Martin Winterkorn resigns|
|29 September 2015||Volkswagen announces plans to refit up to 11 million vehicles affected by the emissions violations scandal|
|2 October 2015||Volkswagen sets up an online based service on which customers can check if their car is affected based on the vehicle identification number|
|8 October 2015||Volkswagen US CEO Michael Horn testifies before US Congress|
|3 November 2015||Volkswagen's investigation finds that CO|
2 emissions and fuel consumption figures are also affected by "irregularities".
|25 November 2015||The German Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) approves Volkswagen fixes for 1.2, 1.6 and 2.0 diesel engines in Europe.|
|9 December 2015||Volkswagen revises previous estimates on CO|
2 emissions irregularities, saying that only around 36,000 vehicles are affected.
|9 March 2016||Volkswagen US CEO Michael Horn resigns, citing a "mutual agreement" with the company.|
|21 April 2016||Volkswagen announces that it will offer its US customers "substantial compensation" and car buyback offers for nearly 500,000 2.0-litre vehicles.|
|6 Nov 2016||Regulators in California discover that Audi engines were rigged to produce lower CO|
|11 January 2017||Volkswagen agrees to plead guilty to the emissions scandal and to pay $4.3 billion in penalties. Six Volkswagen executives are charged.|
|3 May 2018||Ex-CEO Winterkorn is indicted on fraud and conspiracy charges in the US|
|18 June 2018||In connection with the case, AudiCEORupert Stadler is arrested in Germany.|
|16 October 2018||Audi agrees to a fine of €800 million in Germany to resolve civil claims over duty to oversight (Verletzung der Aufsichtspflicht in Unternehmen)|
|14 March 2019||US SEC alleges that Volkswagen AG, Martin Winterkorn, et al. defrauded investors and files suit in N.D. Cal.|
|15 April 2019||Winterkorn and four other executives are charged by prosecutors in Braunschweig, Germany.|
|31 July 2019||Stadler and three others are charged by prosecutors in Munich, Germany.|
|24 September 2019||Pötsch, Diess, and Winterkorn are charged with stock market manipulation by prosecutors in Germany.|
|14 January 2020||Six additional individuals are charged by prosecutors in Braunschweig, Germany.|
The Volkswagen emissions scandal, sometimes known as Dieselgate or Emissionsgate, began in September 2015, when the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to German automaker Volkswagen Group. The agency had found that Volkswagen had intentionally programmed turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel engines to activate their emissions controls only during laboratory emissions testing, which caused the vehicles' NO
x output to meet US standards during regulatory testing, while they emitted up to 40 times more NO
x in real-world driving. Volkswagen deployed this software in about 11 million cars worldwide, including 500,000 in the United States, in model years 2009 through 2015.
In 2014, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) commissioned from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) a study on emissions discrepancies between European and US models of vehicles, summing up the data on 15 vehicles from three sources. Among those recruited to this task was a group of five scientists at the West Virginia University Center for Alternative Fuels Engines and Emissions (CAFEE), who used a Japanese on-board emission testing system and detected additional emissions during live road tests on two out of three diesel cars. ICCT also purchased data from two other sources. The new road testing data and the purchased data were generated using Portable Emissions Measurement Systems (PEMS) developed by multiple individuals in the mid-late 1990s and published in May 2014.
Regulators in multiple countries began to investigate Volkswagen, and its stock price fell in value by a third in the days immediately after the news. Volkswagen Group CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned, and the head of brand development Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Audi research and development head Ulrich Hackenberg, and Porsche research and development head Wolfgang Hatz were suspended. Volkswagen announced plans in April 2016 to spend €16.2 billion (US$18.32 billion at April 2016 exchange rates) on rectifying the emissions issues, and planned to refit the affected vehicles as part of a recall campaign. In January 2017, Volkswagen pleaded guilty to criminal charges and signed an agreed Statement of Facts, which drew on the results of an investigation Volkswagen had itself commissioned from US lawyers Jones Day. The statement set out how engineers had developed the defeat devices, because diesel models could not pass US emissions tests without them, and deliberately sought to conceal their use. In April 2017, a US federal judge ordered Volkswagen to pay a $2.8 billion criminal fine for "rigging diesel-powered vehicles to cheat on government emissions tests". The "unprecedented" plea deal formalized the punishment which Volkswagen had agreed to. Winterkorn was charged in the United States with fraud and conspiracy on 3 May 2018. As of 1 June 2020[update], the scandal had cost VW $33.3 billion in fines, penalties, financial settlements and buyback costs. Various government and civil actions are currently undergoing in the U.S., as well as the European Union, where most of the affected vehicles are located; while they remain legal to drive there, consumers groups and governments seek to make sure Volkswagen has compensated these owners appropriately as they had to do in the United States.
The scandal raised awareness over the higher levels of pollution emitted by all diesel-powered vehicles from a wide range of car makers, which under real-world driving conditions exceeded legal emission limits. A study conducted by ICCT and ADAC showed the biggest deviations from Volvo, Renault, Jeep, Hyundai, Citroën and Fiat, resulting in investigations opening into other diesel emissions scandals. A discussion was sparked on the topic of software-controlled machinery being generally prone to cheating, and a way out would be to open source the software for public scrutiny.
Volkswagen Diesel anti-pollution system
In general, three-way catalytic converter technology, which has been very effective since the early 1980s at reducing nitrogen oxide (NO
x) in petrol engine exhaust, does not work well for diesel vehicles, which emit 20 times more NO
x unless somehow treated.
To deal with this fact, in 2005 some managers at Volkswagen intended to purchase the rights to Mercedes' bulky, expensive, high maintenance "Selective catalytic reduction," urea-based exhaustBlueTec treatment system for reducing diesel exhaust pollution. Other managers at Volkswagen rejected BlueTec, and preferred to develop their own inexpensive "lean NO
x trap" system.
The "lean NO
x trap" team won, but their solution did not actually work. Actual compliance is very challenging - since 2016, 38 out of 40 diesel cars of all brands tested by ADAC failed a NO
x-test based on government standards.
Nonetheless, Volkswagen promoted the technological miracle of fast, cheap, and green diesel vehicles – but the impression projected to outsiders did not reflect the reality. In reality, the system failed to combine good fuel economy with compliant NO
x emissions, and Volkswagen chose around 2006 to program the Engine Control Unit (ECU) to switch from good fuel economy and high NO
x emissions to low-emission compliant mode when it detected an emissions test, particularly for the EA 189 engine. This caused the engine to emit NO
x levels above limits in daily operation, but comply with US NO
x standards when being tested, constituting a defeat device. In 2015 the news magazine Der Spiegel reported that at least 30 people at management level in Volkswagen knew about the deceit for years, which Volkswagen denied in 2015.
Starting in the 2009 model year, Volkswagen Group began migrating its light-duty passenger vehicle's turbocharged direct injection (TDI) diesel engines to a common-rail fuel injection system. This system allows for higher-precision fuel delivery using electronically controlled fuel injectors and higher injection pressure, theoretically leading to better fuel atomization, better air/fuel ratio control, and by extension, better control of emissions.
Volkswagen described the diesel engines as being as clean as or cleaner than US and Californian requirements, while providing good fuel economy and performance. Due to the good fuel economy provided by its diesel fleet, in 2014 Volkswagen was registered with an impressive Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) of 34 mpg‑US (6.9 L/100 km; 41 mpg‑imp). The low emissions levels of Volkswagen vehicles tested with the defeat device in operation enabled the company to receive green car subsidies and tax exemptions in the US.
Early warnings 1998-
In 1998, a Swedish researcher criticized the New European Driving Cycle standard for allowing large emission differences between test and reality.The Washington Post also reported that in the late 1990s, EPA engineers at Virginia Testing Laboratory had built a system called ROVER, designed to test a car's emissions on the road. The project was shut down in 2001, despite preliminary tests indicating gaps between emissions from lab tests and real world tests of about 10 to 20 percent.
In 2011, the European Commission's Joint Research Centre published a report which found that all tested diesel vehicles emitted 0.93 ± 0.39 g/km and that the tested Euro 5 diesel vehicles emitted 0.62 ± 0.19 g/km, which substantially exceeded the respective Euro 3–5 emission limit. In 2013, the research center then warned:
Sensors and electronic components in modern light-duty vehicles are capable of 'detecting' the start of an emissions test in the laboratory (e.g., based on acceleration sensors or not-driven/not-rotating wheels). Some vehicle functions may only be operational in the laboratory, if a predefined test mode is activated. Detecting emissions tests is problematic from the perspective of emissions legislation, because it may enable the use of defeat devices that activate, modulate, delay, or deactivate emissions control systems with the purpose of either enhancing the effectiveness of these systems during emissions testing or reducing the effectiveness of these systems under normal vehicle operation and use. While the use of defeat devices is generally prohibited, exceptions exist in cases where it is necessary to protect the engine against damage and to ensure safe vehicle operation (EC, 2007). These exceptions leave room for interpretation and provide scope, together with the currently applied test procedure, for tailoring the emissions performance [...].
The European Commission and European governments could not agree upon who was responsible for taking action. In the United Kingdom, the Department for Transport received a report from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) in October 2014, which stated there was a "real world nitrogen oxides compliance issue" with diesel passenger cars. The UK's DEFRA research indicated a significant reduction in NO
x and particulate matter from 1983 to 2014. Respirable suspended particles with a diameter of 10 micrometres – also known as PM10 (including diesel particulates) – halved since 1996 despite the increased number and size of diesel cars in the UK.
European discrepancies, 2014
The independent body International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) commissioned a study in 2014 and obtained data on 15 vehicles from three sources. John German, co-lead of the US branch of ICCT, said the idea for the "very ordinary" test came from Peter Mock, managing director ICCT in Europe. Mr. German said they chose to put US vehicles through on-the-road tests because their emissions regulations are more stringent than those in the European Union. The ICCT expected the cars to pass, and thought they would be able to use the results to demonstrate to Europeans that it was possible to run diesel cars with cleaner emissions. The study found emissions discrepancies in the diesel VW Passat and VW Jetta, and no discrepancies in a BMW X5. They wanted to test a Mercedes as well, but could not obtain one.
Emission testing, US 2014
A group of scientists at West Virginia University submitted a proposal to ICCT, and John German awarded them a US$50,000 grant for a study to conduct tests on three diesel cars: a Volkswagen Passat, a Volkswagen Jetta, and a BMW X5. ICCT also purchased data from Emissions Analytics, a UK-based emissions consultancy, and from stakeholders in the Real Driving Emissions-Light Duty Vehicle working group in charge of amending Euro 6 regulations. In early 2014, two professors and two students began testing emissions from the three vehicles under road conditions, using a portable emissions measurement system, making it possible to collect real world driving emissions data, for comparison with laboratory dynamometer testing.
The three vehicles were all certified at a California Air Resources Board facility before the tests as falling below the emissions limits when using the standard laboratory testing protocols. They put 2,400 kilometres (1,500 mi) on the Jetta and X5. For their final test, they wanted to put even more mileage on the Passat and drove it from Los Angeles to Seattle and back again, virtually the entire West Coast of the United States, over 3,200 kilometres (2,000 mi). The BMW was "at or below the standard … with exception of rural-up/downhill driving conditions". But the researchers found that under real-world driving conditions the Jetta exceeded US emissions limits "by a factor of 15 to 35" while the Passat exceeded the limit "by a factor of 5 to 20".
The emissions far exceeded legal limits set by both European and US standards. One of the testers said, "... we did so much testing that we couldn't repeatedly be doing the same mistake again and again." John German said the deceit required more effort than merely adding some code to the engine software, as the code would also have to be validated. The US test results confirmed the ICCT's findings in Europe. The West Virginia scientists did not identify the defeat device, but they reported their findings in a study they presented to the EPA and CARB in May 2014. In May 2014 Colorado's RapidScreen real-world emissions test data reinforced the suspected abnormally high emissions levels. After a year-long investigation, an international team of investigators identified the defeat device as a piece of code labelled "acoustic condition" which activated emissions-curbing systems when the car's computer identified it was undergoing a test.
Underlying U.S. and EU emission standards
The Volkswagen and Audi cars identified as violators had been certified to meet either the US EPA Tier 2 / Bin 5 emissions standard or the California LEV-II ULEV standard. Either standard requires that nitrogen oxide emissions not exceed 0.043 grams per kilometre (0.07 g/mi) for engines at full useful life which is defined as either 190,000 kilometres (120,000 mi) or 240,000 kilometres (150,000 mi) depending on the vehicle and optional certification choices.
This standard for nitrogen oxide emissions is among the most stringent in the world. For comparison, the contemporary European standards known as Euro 5 (2008 "EU5 compliant", 2009–2014 models) and Euro 6 (2015 models) only limit nitrogen oxide emissions to 0.18 grams per kilometre (0.29 g/mi) and 0.08 grams per kilometre (0.13 g/mi) respectively. Defeat devices are forbidden in the EU. The use of a defeat device is subject to a penalty.
- Note: The vehicles tested were anonymous in the original study. Emissions listed on page 64–65. Limits listed on page 5. NO
x treatment listed on page 9.
20 percent of European city dwellers are exposed to unhealthy levels of nitrogen dioxide. In London, where diesel road traffic is responsible for 40 percent of NO
x emissions, air pollution causes more than 3,000 deaths a year. A Channel 4 documentary in January 2015 referred to the UK government moving to a CO
2 emission band system for road tax, which favoured diesel power, as the "great car con", with Barry Gardiner MP, former member of the Blair government, stating that the policy, which lowered CO
2 emissions yet increased NO
x pollution, was a mistake.
EPA Notice of Violation, 2015
On 18 September 2015, the US EPA served a Notice of Violation (NOV) on Volkswagen Group alleging that approximately 480,000 Volkswagen and Audi automobiles equipped with 2-litre TDI engines, and sold in the US between 2009 and 2015, had an emissions-compliance "defeat device" installed. A Notice of Violation is a notification to the recipient that the EPA believes it has committed violations and is not a final determination of liability.
Volkswagen's "defeat device" is specially-written engine-management-unitfirmware that detects "the position of the steering wheel, vehicle speed, the duration of the engine's operation, and barometric pressure" when positioned on a dynamometer using the FTP-75 test schedule. These criteria very closely match the EPA's required emissions testing protocol which allowed the vehicle to comply with emissions regulations by properly activating all emissions control during testing. The EPA's NOV alleged that under normal driving conditions, the software suppressed the emissions controls, allowing better fuel economy, at the expense of emitting up to 40 times more nitrogen oxides than allowed by law.
Intelligence agencies, 2015
In February 2017, Der Spiegel reported that in February 2015, ex Israeli diplomat Avi Primor had shown Ferdinand Piëch, then Volkswagen chairman of the board at the time, a document in which US agencies warned CEO Martin Winterkorn early about the manipulation. During this meeting at the end of February 2015, Primor introduced Piëch to his friend Yuval Diskin, who after retiring from directing the Israeli secret service of the Interior Shin Bet, had founded a cybersecurity company. Shin Bet apparently knew about the scandal early. Primor confirmed that the meeting took place, but both Primor and Diskin denied tipping off Piech. In early March 2017, Piech asked Winterkorn whether there had been a warning by US agencies, which Winterkorn denied.
Initial response August, September 2015
According to the EPA, Volkswagen had insisted for a year before the outbreak of the scandal that discrepancies were mere technical glitches. Volkswagen fully acknowledged that they had manipulated the vehicle emission tests only after being confronted with evidence regarding the "defeat device".
The first sign that Volkswagen was ready to come clean reportedly occurred on 21 August 2015 at a conference on green transportation in Pacific Grove, California, where an unnamed company representative approached Christopher Grundler, director of the EPA Office of Transportation and Air Quality, and surprised him by informally admitting that the company had been deceiving regulators. A CARB official was standing next to Grundler at the time.
Formal acknowledgement of the deception was made by Volkswagen executives in Germany and the United States to EPA and California officials during a 3 September conference call, during which Volkswagen executives discussed written materials provided to the participants demonstrating how Volkswagen's diesel engine software circumvented US emissions tests. That admission came after the EPA threatened to withhold approval for the company's 2016 Volkswagen and Audi diesel models.
I am shocked by the events of the past few days. I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group. As CEO I accept responsibility for the irregularities. I am doing this in the interests of the company even though I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part.
Martin Winterkorn, -- Former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn resignation statement, 23 September 2015.
Volkswagen's CEO Martin Winterkorn said: "I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public." Winterkorn was in charge at Volkswagen from the start of 2008 to September 2015. He attributed the admitted wrongdoing to "the terrible mistakes of a few people". Winterkorn initially resisted calls to step down from his leadership role at VW, but then resigned as CEO on 23 September 2015.
Volkswagen Group of America CEO Michael Horn was more direct, saying, "We've totally screwed up." Horn added, "Our company was dishonest with the EPA, and the California Air Resources Board and with all of you." Olaf Lies, a Volkswagen board member and economy minister of Lower Saxony, later told the BBC that the people "who allowed this to happen, or who made the decision to install this software" acted criminally, and must be held personally accountable. He also said the board found out about the problems only "shortly before the media did", and expressed concerns over "why the board wasn't informed earlier about the problems when they were known about over a year ago in the United States".
Volkswagen announced that 11 million cars were involved in the falsified emission reports, and that over seven billion dollars would be earmarked to deal with the costs of rectifying the software at the heart of the pollution statements. The newly appointed CEO of Volkswagen Mathias Müller stated that the software was activated in only a part of those 11 million cars, which has yet to be determined. The German tabloid Bild claimed that top management had been aware of the software's use to manipulate exhaust settings as early as 2007. Bosch provided the software for testing purposes and warned Volkswagen that it would be illegal to use the software to avoid emissions compliance during normal driving.Der Spiegel followed Bild with an article dated 30 September 2015 to state that some groups of people were aware of this in 2005 or 2006.Süddeutsche Zeitung had similarly reported, that Heinz-Jakob Neusser, one of Volkswagen's top executives, had ignored at least one engineer's warnings over "possibly illegal" practices in 2011.
On 28 September 2015, it was reported that Volkswagen had suspended Heinz-Jakob Neusser, head of brand development at its core Volkswagen brand, Ulrich Hackenberg, the head of research and development at its brand Audi who oversees technical development across the Volkswagen group, and Wolfgang Hatz, research and development chief at its sports-car brand Porsche who also heads engine and transmissions development of the Volkswagen group. On the same day it was reported that besides the internal investigation of the incidents, the supervisory board of Volkswagen had hired American law firm Jones Day to carry out an independent investigation.Computerworld suggested that a software audit trail and test logs were ways to investigate what took place when. In February 2016 Volkswagen also contracted three public relations firms (Kekst in the United States, Hering Schuppener in Germany, Finsbury in Britain), in addition to its usual US-retained firm Edelman. To further help deal with the scandal, Volkswagen hired ex-FBI director Louis Freeh, alongside former German constitutional judge Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt previously employed by Daimler, and as of 2016 on Volkswagen's board as its director of integrity and legal affairs.
Other irregularities, November 2015
On 3 November 2015, Volkswagen revealed that its internal investigation found that CO
2 emissions and fuel consumption figures were also affected by "irregularities". These new issues, first estimated to cost up to €2 billion to repair, involved mainly diesel, but also some petrol models, with initial estimates suggesting that approximately 800,000 vehicles equipped with 1.4, 1.6 and 2.0 litre motors from VW, Skoda, Audi and SEAT might be affected. On 9 December 2015, Volkswagen revised these estimates, saying that only around 36,000 vehicles are affected by the irregularities, while also affirming that it had found no evidence of unlawful changing of CO
2 emissions data. The news prompted a 7.3 percent increase in Volkswagen preference shares on the same day.
In November 2016, California regulators claimed to have discovered software installed on some Audi models that allowed the manufacturer to cheat CO
2 emissions during standard testing, thereby also masking the cars' contribution to global warming.
3.0 litre TDI emissions
On 20 November 2015, the EPA said Volkswagen officials told the agency that all 3.0-litre TDI diesel engines sold in the US from 2009 through 2015 were also fitted with emissions-cheating software, in the form of "alternate exhaust control devices". These are prohibited in the United States, however the software is legal in Europe. Volkswagen acknowledges these devices' existence, but maintains that they were not installed with a "forbidden purpose". On 4 January 2016, the US Department of Justice filed a complaint in a federal court against VW, alleging that the respective 3.0-litre diesel engines meet the legal emission requirements in only a "temperature conditioning" mode that is automatically switched on during testing conditions, while at "all other times, including during normal vehicle operation, the vehicles operate in a 'normal mode' that permits NO
x emissions of up to nine times the federal standard". The complaint covers around 85,000 3.0 litre diesel vehicles sold in the United States since 2009, including the Volkswagen Touareg, Porsche Cayenne, Audi A6 Quattro, Audi A7 Quattro, Audi A8, Audi A8L, Audi Q5, and Audi Q7 models.
Affected Volkswagen and Audi TDI models
Vehicle recall and consequences
On 29 September 2015, Volkswagen announced plans to refit up to 11 million affected vehicles, fitted with Volkswagen's EA 189 diesel engines, including 5 million at Volkswagen brand, 2.1 million at Audi, 1.2 million at Škoda and 1.8 million light commercial vehicles. SEAT said that 700,000 of its diesel models were affected. In Europe alone, a total of 8 million vehicles are affected. In Germany, 2.8 million vehicles will have to be recalled, followed by the UK, with 1.2 million. In France, 984,064 vehicles were affected, in Austria around 360,000, while in the Czech Republic 148,000 vehicles were involved (of which 101,000 were Škodas). In Portugal, Volkswagen said it had sold 94,400 vehicles with the software. The repair may not require a formal recall; in the UK, for example, the company will simply offer to repair the cars free of charge; a recall is required only "when a defect is identified that... could result in serious injury". As the rules violation involved enabling emission controls during testing, but turning it off under normal conditions to improve performance or fuel mileage, it has been speculated that the software update might make cars perform less efficiently and impair fuel economy; according to VW, however, its proposed solutions will be designed to achieve legal EU emissions compliance without impairing engine performance or consumption.
As of September 2015[update] it was unclear whether the repair would include hardware modifications, such as selective catalytic reduction (SCR) upgrades. The recall was scheduled to start in January 2016, with all affected cars projected to be fixed by the end of the year. The company also announced a review of all of its brands and models, including its supercar marque Bugatti.
On 8 October 2015, Volkswagen US CEO Michael Horn said in testimony before the US Congress that it could take years to repair all the cars, especially the older models, due to the required complex hardware and software changes. He said that the fixes would likely preserve fuel economy ratings but, "there might be a slight impact on performance".
On 12 October 2015, Paul Willis, Volkswagen UK managing director, told the Commons Transport Select Committee that about 400,000 Volkswagen cars in the UK will need fuel injectors altered as well as a software fix. The vehicles requiring the hardware fix are the 1.6 litre diesel models. The 1.2 litre and 2.0 litre diesel models will require only a software fix. On the same day, Volkswagen announced it would overhaul its entire diesel strategy, saying that in Europe and North America it will switch "as soon as possible" to the use of selective catalytic reduction technology to improve diesel emissions. It also announced plans to accelerate the development of electric cars and plug-in hybrids, as well as petrol, instead of diesel engines for smaller cars.
On 12–13 October 2015, Volkswagen Group vehicle drivers in the UK started receiving notification letters, to "rectify the issue". Volkswagen later announced a timeline for UK diesel recalls, citing March 2016 for 2.0-litre engines, June 2016 for 1.2-litre engines, and October 2016 for 1.6-litre engines.
At the beginning of October 2015, Volkswagen suggested to let car owners decide whether their cars would be recalled for handling. However, the German Federal Motor Transport Authority (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt, or KBA) views the software as illegal, and has ordered a full recall of all affected cars in Germany. Volkswagen then decided to recall around 8.5 million cars in Europe, about a third of all its car deliveries since 2009. KBA requires Volkswagen to send a recall plan to KBA before the end of October for 2.0-litre cars, and end of November for 1.2 and 1.6-litre cars. If KBA approves a plan, Volkswagen can then start handling the cars. The German authorities require that Volkswagen remove the software and that Volkswagen ensures that emission rules are fulfilled. Media estimates that the KBA procedure sets a precedent for how authorities in other countries handle the case.
On 18 November 2015, Autoblog reported that the KBA was reviewing a Volkswagen fix for the affected 1.6 diesel engine. On 25 November 2015, Volkswagen said the fix involved a minor hardware modification to the car's air intake system, alongside a software update. This low-cost solution contradicted earlier speculation regarding the possible fitting of new injection nozzles and catalytic converters. In December 2015, Volkswagen said that the affected 1.2-litre and 2.0-litre diesel engines needed only a software update. As of November 2015, the KBA had approved the fixes with the first recalls likely to begin in January 2016. According to VW, the measures aimed to achieve legal EU emissions compliance without impairing engine output, fuel consumption, or performance. The simple fixes with inexpensive parts and software were then possible though not available when the engines were developed, because engine technology understanding and intake flow simulation capabilities had matured in the meantime, to address the burning of diesel and air mixtures via intake flow shaping. As of December 2015, due to stricter environmental legislation, fixes for US vehicles were expected to take longer to produce and be more technically complex.
As of February 2016, there were three sizes of affected diesel engines, and more than a dozen variations to the repairs exist, prompting Volkswagen to roll out the recalls in waves for each cluster of vehicle; the first model to be repaired was the low-volume Volkswagen Amarok. Classified as a light commercial vehicle, the Amarok pickup has a higher Euro 5 NO
x emissions limit than the passenger cars that are yet to have an available approved fix. German motoring journal Auto Motor und Sport tested two Amarok TDI pickups pre and post software update and found that whilst engine power had remained the same, fuel consumption had increased by 0.5 litres/100 km. This is believed in turn to have delayed the next wave of updates to the larger volume Passat model which had been expected to start on 29 February 2016 due to the further testing of the update by the KBA. Volkswagen confirmed on 11 April 2016 that the Passat recall would be delayed as testing had revealed higher fuel consumption. In 2017 Swedish auto journal Teknikens Värld performed tests on 10 different models and most of them showed a reduction in power output and increase in fuel consumption after having the update applied.
In France, the MediaCom media agency, which buys advertising for Volkswagen, warned the French newspapers on 22 September 2015 that it would cancel planned Volkswagen and Audi campaigns in case they would cover the emission violations. Given the scale that the scandal had already taken by that time, the threat had little effect on its coverage.
On the occasion of German Unity Day, Volkswagen launched an ad campaign in German Sunday newspapers, that it wanted to express its joy about the 25th anniversary of German reunification, its pride about having shaped the country together with all people for the last 25 years, to give thanks for the confidence of the customers it had experienced during all this time and that it wanted to thank all its employees and trade partners in Germany, and that in one sentence, that "it would do everything to win back the confidence of its customers".
New orders, September 2015
In September 2015, Volkswagen's Belgian importer, D'Ieteren, announced that it would offer free engine upgrades to 800 customers who had ordered a vehicle with a diesel engine which was likely to have been fitted with illegal software.
As of October 2015, Sales of vehicles with EA 189 engines were halted in some European countries, including Spain, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK.
In the United States, Volkswagen withdrew its application for emissions certification for its 2016 diesel models, leaving thousands of vehicles stranded at ports in October 2015, which the company said contained software which should have been disclosed to and certified by the EPA. EPA quarantined some 2016-models until it would become clear that their catalysts perform the same on the road as they do in tests.
US Congressional Testimony, October 2015
On 8 October 2015, Volkswagen US CEO Michael Horn testified before the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce stating: "This was not a corporate decision, from my point of view, and to my best knowledge today. This was a couple of software engineers who put this in for whatever reason... some people have made the wrong decisions in order to get away with something that will have to be found out." The response was widely ridiculed.
Compensation, November 2015
On 9 November 2015, Volkswagen announced that, in addition to the US$2,000 it was offering current Volkswagen owners for trade-ins, 482,000 diesel Audi and Volkswagen owners in the United States would be eligible to receive US$1,000 in vouchers. On 18 November 2015, Volkswagen said that approximately one quarter of the affected vehicle owners had applied to the program, which was estimated to cost at least $120 million in benefits. Volkswagen confirmed that it is offering vouchers including to customers in Canada. Volkswagen America said that accepting the gift cards does not prevent owners from filing lawsuits. Volkswagen also created a claims fund, managed by the well-known mediation attorney Kenneth Feinberg, which will offer full compensation packages (in the form of cash, buy-backs, repairs or replacement cars) to the approximately 600,000 United States owners affected by the scandal. Despite earlier hints to the contrary, in December 2015 Volkswagen CEO Matthias Müller said that customers outside the US and Canada should also expect some type of compensation package: "we are working on an attractive package, let's call it compensation, for reduction in residual values in our cars". However, on 11 January 2016, a Volkswagen spokesman said "there won't be compensation. All the indications are that residual values are unaffected"; the company, which continued to face pressure from E.U. officials to compensate European drivers as well, blamed the confusion on "a slight mistranslation". E.U. commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska said Volkswagen was treating European consumers unfairly, and Volkswagen responded that the situation in US and Canadian markets, where confidence in diesel technology was "severely shaken" and clients needed to wait longer for an engine fix due to tougher emissions standards, was not "automatically comparable" with other markets.
On 21 April 2016, the federal district court for the Northern District of California, which was appointed in December 2015 to oversee almost all of the US litigation, including claims filed by vehicle owners and state governments, announced that Volkswagen would offer its US customers "substantial compensation" and buy back nearly 500,000 2.0-litre vehicles as part of a settlement in North America. The court appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a mediator to oversee the negotiations between claimants, regulators, and Volkswagen, to produce a final "consent decree" by late June 2016.
European actions, 2015–2020
Following its admission and recall plans in the United States, Volkswagen also started to establish similar plans in the European Union, where it was estimated that 8.5 million of the 11 million diesel vehicles affected by the scandal were located. The European Union warned Volkswagen in 2018 that it did not believe it was moving fast enough to issue repairs on the recalled cars, provide consumers with appropriate information on what steps Volkswagen was doing to resolve the problem, and what compensation they were offering affected consumers. Volkswagen agreed to a €1 billion fine imposed by Germany for failing to monitor the employees that modified the software behind the scandal in 2018.
In Germany, over 60,000 civil lawsuits of various degrees representing about 450,000 citizens were filed from 2015 through 2019 by Volkswagen owners, seeking similar compensation as Volkswagen had given to United States drivers. A case led by the Federation of German Consumer Organizations (VZBV) was brought against Volkswagen. At the Braunschweig Oberlandesgericht (Higher Regional Court) Volkswagen argued that where the United States had banned the affected cars, no EU member state had banned the affected vehicle, and thus there was no basis for any compensation. However, Judge Michael Neef rejected a summary judgement for Volkswagen in September 2019, allowing what was anticipated to be a multi-year case to go forward. Volkswagen had settled with VZBV for about €830 million - providing between €1,350 and €6,257 to approximately 260,000 Volkswagen owners through the VZBV - in February 2020. Many consumers were angered over this settlement, representing only a fraction of what Volkswagen had paid to United States' owners. One of the other civil cases, serving as a template for those not covered by the VZBV case, had reached the Federal Court of Justice, Germany's highest court, and in May 2020, ruled that the consumer was entitled to the full market value of the car, several times larger than what the settlement would have offered. It is unclear how much Volkswagen will own from a result of the remaining civil lawsuits.
A similar class-action suit against Volkswagen representing more than 91,000 owners is currently underway in the United Kingdom, seeking greater compensation for being sold vehicles known by Volkswagen to be defective. The High Court of Justice had giving preliminary findings in the case in April 2020 that there is a likelihood that Volkswagen did sell vehicles with a "defeat device" and attempted to abuse the process, allowing the trial to go forward.
xemissions summed over 2008 through 2015 (kg per km2).The median value of emissions is used for each year. Emission density peaks at 446 kg per km2
xemissions in kilotonnes (million kg). Results from 2008 through 2015 (blue) are estimates of actual excess emissions. Results from 2016 onward (red) are forecast based on the existing in-use vehicle fleet assuming no new sales of non-compliant vehicles from September 2015 and no retrofitting (used to calculate the benefit of a return to compliance).The shaded region indicates the 95 percent confidence interval. The discontinuity is due to the difference in the baseline for past (based on FTP-75 drive cycle measurements) and future (based on a return to regulatory limit) emissions.
Further information: Diesel exhaust
This section needs attention from an expert in Chemistry. See the talk page for details. WikiProject Chemistry may be able to help recruit an expert.(September 2015)
A peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Research Letters estimated that approximately 59 premature deaths will be caused by the excess pollution produced between 2008 and 2015 by vehicles equipped with the defeat device in the United States, the majority due to particulate pollution (87 percent) with the remainder due to ozone (13 percent). The study also found that making these vehicles emissions compliant by the end of 2016 would avert an additional 130 early deaths.
Earlier non peer-reviewed studies published in media sources, quoted estimates ranging from 10 to 350 excess deaths in the United States related to the defeat devices based on varying assumptions.
Non-fatal health impacts
2 is a precursor to ground-level ozone it may cause respiratory problems "including asthma, bronchitis and emphysema". Nitrogen oxides amplify the effect of fine particulate matter soot which causes heart problems, a form of air pollution estimated to kill 50,000 in the United States annually.
A peer-reviewed study published in Environmental Pollution estimated that the fraudulent emissions would be associated with 45 thousand disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and a value of life lost of at least 39 billion US dollars.
In June 2016, Axel Friedrich, formerly with the German equivalent of the E.P.A. and a co-founder of the International Council on Clean Transportation stated "It's not just fraud – it's physical assault."
x also contribute to acid rain, and visibly brown clouds or smog due to both the visible nature of NO
2, and the ground level ozone created by NO. NO and NO
2 are not greenhouse gases, whereas N
2 is a precursor to ground-level ozone.
Legal and financial repercussions
In October 2015, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced that it will not be investigating Volkswagen for possible violations of emissions standards, citing that a reasonable consumer would not be concerned about the tailpipe emissions of their vehicle and hence would not be a deciding factor in their purchase. In March 2017, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that Audi and Volkswagen issued a voluntary recall for affected cars for software updates and in some cases hardware updates had begun in December 2016. As of January 2018[update], several class action suits were dropped against Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda.
In December 2019 Volkswagen AG was fined A$125 million for making false and misleading representations about compliance with Australian diesel emissions standards.
In October 2015, the Belgian Chamber of Representatives set up a special Dieselgate committee. It finalized a consensus report in March 2016, for the government to implement recommendations, with near-unanimous approval on 28 April 2016.
In January 2016, public broadcaster VRT reported on Opel Zafira cars having lower emissions after an update compared to before receiving the update. Opel denied deploying software updates influencing emissions, and the Economic Inspection of the Federal Government started an investigation on the request of Minister of Consumer Protection Kris Peeters.
As of October 2015, Volkswagen Brazil confirmed that 17,057 units of its Amarok mid-size pickups produced between 2011 and 2012 and sold in Brazil were equipped with the emissions cheating software. The Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama) launched an investigation, warning that Volkswagen could face fines up to R$50,000,000.
In September 2017, Volkswagen Brazil was ordered to pay R$1,000,000,000 to the 17,000 owners of the Amarok pickups equipped with defeat devices, as decided by the 1st Business Court of the Court of Justice of Rio de Janeiro. The automaker may still appeal the decision. The total amount reaches R$1,092,648,000 (US$348 million at the September 2017 exchange rate) and each consumer will receive R$54,000 (US$17,000) for material damages and another R$10,000 (US$3,000) for moral damages. In addition, the magistrate ordered the automaker to pay an additional R$1,000,000 into the National Consumer Protection Fund. According to the judge, the purpose was "to compensate the Brazilian society as a collective moral damage of a pedagogical and punitive nature because of the collective fraud caused in the domestic motor vehicle market".
In September 2015, Environment Canada announced that it had begun an investigation to determine if "defeat devices" were installed in Volkswagen vehicles to bypass emission control tests in Canada. On 15 December 2016 an agreement was reached which allowed buybacks or trade-ins based on market value on 18 September 2015 or fitting an approved emissions modification. All three options also added a cash payment between CA$5,100 and CA$8,000.
Ontario provincial authorities executed a search warrant at Volkswagen Canada offices in the Toronto area on 19 September 2017 as part of its investigation into the emissions scandal that rocked the company two years ago. The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change have charged Volkswagen AG with one count under the province's Environmental Protection Act, alleging the German company did not comply with Ontario emission standards. The allegations have not been proven in court.
In July 2018, Volkswagen Group Canada announced plans for its new Electrify Canada subsidiary to launch a network of public fast-charging stations in major cities and along major highways, starting with 32 charging sites in the four most-populated provinces: Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia and Alberta.
On 9 December 2019, Volkswagen AG was charged with 60 counts of contravening the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. On 22 January 2020, Volkswagen pleaded guilty to all charges and was fined CA$196.5 million.
In October 2015, China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine announced the recall of 1,946 imported Tiguan SUVs and four imported Passat B6 sedans, in order to fix the emissions software problems.
In September 2015, Government regulatory agencies and investigators initiated proceedings in France, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Romania. Several countries[vague] called for a Europe-wide investigation. In October 2015 Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) said the bank was considering recalling Volkswagen loans, and announced their own investigation into the matter. On 27 October 2015, the European Parliament voted a resolution urging the bloc to establish a federal authority to oversee car-emissions, following reports in the press that top EU environmental officials had warned, since early 2013, that manufacturers are tweaking vehicles to perform better in the lab than on the road. The resolution urged for tougher emissions tests to be fully implemented in 2017, instead of being phased in between 2017 and 2019, as had been originally planned. However, the European Commission proceeded with passing legislation that allowed the car industry an extra year before having to comply with the newer regulation. Also, it was revealed[by whom?] that the new "realistic" EU driving emissions test will continue to allow cars to emit more than twice the legal limit of nitrogen oxides (NO
x) from 2019 and up to 50 percent more from 2021. The legislation, opposed only by the Netherlands, is considered[by whom?] a great victory for the car industry, and has drawn stern critique from other MEPs. Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout referred to the new test as "a sham", while liberal democrat MEP Catherine Bearder described the legislation as "a disgraceful stitch-up by national governments, who are once again putting the interests of carmakers ahead of public health". In December 2015, the EU Parliament voted to establish a special committee to investigate whether regulators and executive officials, including the European Commission, failed to oversee the car industry and its pollution testing regimes.
In June 2016, documents leaked to the press indicated that in 2010, European Commission officials had been warned by their in-house science team that at least one car manufacturer was possibly using a NOx-related defeat device in order to bypass emission regulation.Kathleen Van Brempt, the chair of the EU inquiry into the scandal, found the documents "shocking" and suggested that they raised serious concerns with regard to the future of commission officials: "These documents show that there has been an astonishing collective blindness to the defeat device issue in the European commission, as well as in other EU institutions".
In September 2020, European union laws changed and the European commission has the right to check car conformity to emission standards and to recall vehicles when needed. Fines can be up to €30,000 per car.
Renault and Peugeot's headquarters were raided by fraud investigators in January and April 2016, respectively. As of January 2016, Renault recalled 15,000 cars for emission testing and fixing. French authorities opened an inquiry in March 2016 into Volkswagen over the rigging of emission tests, with prosecutors investigating suspicions of "aggravated deception".
In September 2015 former Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn resigned over the scandal, saying he had no knowledge of the manipulation of emissions results. One week later German prosecutors launched an investigation against him. On 1 October a German prosecutor clarified, it was looking into allegations of fraud from unidentified individuals, but that Winterkorn was not under formal investigation. On 8 October 2015 police raided Volkswagen headquarters. As of 16 October 2015, twenty investigators worked on the case, targeting "more than two, but a lot fewer than 10" Volkswagen staff. As of November 2015 the Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt KBA tested 50 cars from different manufacturers, both in laboratory and on-road with PEMS. In May 2016, German transport minister Alexander Dobrindt said that Volkswagen, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Opel and Porsche would all adjust settings that increased emission levels such as nitrogen dioxide in some diesel cars. On 16 March 2017, German authorities raided the headquarters of Audi in Bavaria and Volkswagen in Wolfsburg.
On 15 April 2019 Winterkorn and four other executives were charged by prosecutors in Braunschweig, Germany. In August 2019, a district court ruled that updated software didn't properly address the emissions, citing a tested Tiguan turbodiesel engine that only reduced emissions in the ambient temperature range of 10–32 °C (50–90 °F).
Audi's then CEO Rupert Stadler was taken into German custody in June 2018 until being released in October 2018, when he was also removed from being CEO. In July 2019, Stadler was charged with fraud in Munich due to the scandal.
The Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department banned the Volkswagen Caddy on 16 October 2015. As of 16 October 2015 the department had also tested the Amarok and Transporter commercial diesel vehicles but found them to be free of the defeat device.
As of 25 September 2015[update], the Indian government directed the Automotive Research Association of India (ARAI) to investigate whether Volkswagen's vehicles had circumvented Indian laws and regulations on vehicle emission testing. On 22 September 2015 the Indian Foundation of Transport, Research and Training (IFTRT) demanded a probe into Volkswagen's Confirmation of Production process for vehicles sold in India. In October the Government of India later extended its deadline for the test results to the end of October 2015. On 11 January 2017, ARAI's investigation into defeat devices was published and revealed that Volkswagen India had installed a derivation of the software used in the U.S. to defeat emission testing procedures in all of the Volkswagen group's product range in India with EA 189 engine series. This included 1.2-L, 1.5-L, 1.6-L and 2.0-L diesel engine variants across three different brands - Audi, Skoda and Volkswagen. The report called the defeat device "not a product failure but a clear case of cheating".
On 6 October 2015 Italy's regulator of competition announced plans to investigate whether Volkswagen engaged in "improper commercial practices" when promoting its affected diesel vehicles. On 15 October 2015, Italian police raided Volkswagen offices in Verona, and Volkswagen's Lamborghini offices in Bologna, placing six executives under investigation.
In December 2016 the Dutch consumers authority ACM decided to investigate whether Dutch laws were broken and consumers misled, a report was due by June 2017. 5,000 Dutch Volkswagen owners have signed up for a class action lawsuit.[when?] Netherlands has spent billions of euros on subsidies in energy-efficient cars in the recent years.[vague]Jesse Klaver from the political party GroenLinks responded[when?] that the Netherlands must claim back money from the car manufacturers if it emerges that they have committed fraud in the Netherlands.
Norway's prosecutors opened a criminal investigation into possible economic crimes committed by VW.
In May 2016, Norway's sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest ($850 bn) and also one of the company's biggest investors, announced legal action against Volkswagen, to be filed in Germany as part of a class-action lawsuit being prepared there.
On 1 October 2015 the Romanian Automotive Register (RAR) stopped issuing registration documents for Volkswagen vehicles equipped with Euro 5 diesel engines.
On 28 September 2015, the departments of Environmental Affairs and Transport and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications said they still needed to determine whether local cars had been affected by the rigging of US vehicle emissions tests.
As of 19 January 2016 South Korea, the world's eighth-largest diesel-car market, planned a criminal case against Volkswagen executives. On 22 September 2015 South Korean authorities announced pollution control investigations into cars manufactured by Volkswagen and other European car-manufacturers. Park Pan-kyu, a deputy director at South Korea's environment ministry said: "If South Korean authorities find problems in the Volkswagen diesel cars, the probe could be expanded to all German diesel cars".
In November 2015, after defeat devices had been found in some Volkswagen models, the Environment Minister issued a fine of ₩14,100,000,000 and ordered the cars to be recalled. As of 20 January 2016, the country's environmental agency had filed criminal charges against VW, seeking up to $48 billion in penalties. Johannes Thammer, managing director of Audi Volkswagen Korea, was placed under investigation and faced up to five years in prison and a fine of up to ₩30,000,000. Volkswagen's recall plan for South Korea, submitted on 6 January 2016, was rejected by the authorities, as it failed to meet a number of key legal requirements. Authorities are also reported to have rejected a revised plan on 23 March 2016 for the same reasons. In May 2016, following a wider investigation of 20 diesel-powered cars, South Korean authorities accused Nissan of using a defeat device for manipulating emissions data for the British-built Nissan Qashqai, allegations which the Japanese carmaker denied.
In August 2019, the government announced a ban on 8 VW Group diesel models cars for cheating emissions regulations.
As of 28 October 2015, a Spanish court had opened a criminal probe against Volkswagen AG, to establish whether the company's actions broke any local laws.
As of 29 September 2015, Sweden's chief prosecutor was considering starting a preliminary investigation into Volkswagen's emissions violations.
On 26 September 2015 Switzerland banned sales of Volkswagen diesel cars, marking the most severe step taken so far by a government in reaction to the emissions crisis.
The Department for Transport announced on 24 September 2015 that it would begin re-testing cars from a variety of manufacturers to ensure the use of "defeat devices" was not industry wide. The UK Parliamentary Transport Select Committee opened an enquiry into Volkswagen Emissions Violations with evidence sessions on 12 October 2015 and 25 January 2016. The Select Committee published a letter from Paul Willis, Managing Director of Volkswagen Group UK Ltd of 21 December 2015 stating: "In very simple terms, the software did amend the NOx characteristics in testing. The vehicles did meet EU5 standards, so it clearly contributed to meeting the EU5 standards in testing".
A report on "real world" tests commissioned by the Government published in April 2016 showed emissions from 37 diesel engines up to 14 times higher than had been claimed, with every vehicle exceeding the legal limit of nitrogen oxide emissions. Only Volkswagen group vehicles were found to have test cycle detection software.
In January 2017, an action group announced it had 25,000 vehicle owners who were seeking compensation of £3,000-£4,000 per vehicle.
VW suspended sales of TDI-equipped cars in the US on 20 September 2015. On 21 September 2015 the EPA announced that should the allegations be proven, Volkswagen Group could face fines of up to US$37,500 per vehicle (about US$18 billion in total). In addition to possible civil fines, the United States Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division were doing a criminal probe of Volkswagen AG's conduct. 22 September 2015 The United States House Energy Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations announced that it would hold a hearing into the Volkswagen scandal while New York Attorney GeneralEric Schneiderman said that his investigation was already underway. As of 29 October 2015, over 25 other states' attorneys general, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Detroit, were involved in similar investigations. On 12 November 2015, the FBI confirmed to engineering magazine Ingeniøren that it had an ongoing investigation, after previous unconfirmed reports.
As of 6 October 2015, the EPA decided to broaden its investigations onto 28 diesel-powered models made by BMW, Chrysler, General Motors, Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz. The agency would initially focus on one used vehicle of each model, and widen the probe if it encountered suspicious data. The EPA has described[when?] the hidden Volkswagen pollution as "knowing endangerment". In May 2016, the owners of Mercedes-Benz confirmed that the US Justice Department asked Daimler AG to run an internal investigation into its diesel emissions testing, as well.
On 4 January 2016, the Justice Department, on behalf of the EPA, brought suit against Volkswagen in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit. The complaint, seeking up to $46 billion in penalties for Clean Air Act violations, alleged that Volkswagen equipped certain 2.0 and 3.0-litre diesel-engine vehicles with emissions cheating software, causing NO
x pollution to exceed EPA's standards during normal driving conditions. It further claimed that Volkswagen entities provided misleading information and that material omissions impeded and obstructed ""efforts to learn the truth about the (excess) emissions". while "so far recall discussions with the company have not produced an acceptable way forward". On 9 January 2016, US officials criticized Volkswagen for citing German law in order to withhold documents from a group of states investigating the company's actions. Schneiderman also complained over Volkswagen's slowness in producing documents from its US files, claiming the company "has sought to delay responses until it completes its 'independent investigation' several months from now".
On 12 January 2016, US regulators rejected Volkswagen's recall plans for its affected 2.0-litre diesel engines, submitted to CARB in December 2015, claiming that these "do not adequately address overall impacts on vehicle performance, emissions and safety". Volkswagen confirmed that its discussions with CARB will continue, and said that the company is working on bringing "a package together which satisfies our customers first and foremost and then also the regulators". The states of Arizona, West Virginia, New Mexico, and Texas, as well as Harris County, Texas, all filed separate lawsuits seeking restitution from VW. The company also faces investigations by 48 United States state attorneys (as of February 2016[update]).
On 29 March 2016, Volkswagen was additionally sued by the United States Federal Trade Commission for false advertising due to fraudulent claims made by the company in its promotion of the affected models, which touted the "environmental and economic advantages" of diesel engines and contained claims of low emissions output. The suit was consolidated into existing litigation over the matter in San Francisco, which would allow the FTC to participate in global settlements over the matter.
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on 1 June 2020 that Volkswagen was liable for further legal damage lawsuits brought by state and local governments in the emissions fraud. The unanimous ruling by the court paved the way for two counties in Florida and Utah to proceed with litigation against Volkswagen, as well as potential further cases brought by jurisdictions in the USA. By June 2020, VW had already expended $33.3 billion in settlements and other costs including buybacks of the excessively polluting diesel vehicles. In a statement, VW said it would ask the circuit court to review the ruling, and that the company if necessary would take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Charges against Volkswagen engineering/management
On 9 September 2016, James Robert Liang, a Volkswagen engineer working at Volkswagen's testing facility in Oxnard, California, admitted as part of a plea deal with the US Department of Justice that the defeat device had been purposely installed in US vehicles with the knowledge of his engineering team: "Liang admitted that beginning in about 2006, he and his co-conspirators started to design a new "EA 189" diesel engine for sale in the United States. ... When he and his co-conspirators realized that they could not design a diesel engine that would meet the stricter US emissions standards, they designed and implemented [the defeat device] software".
On 7 January 2017, former top emissions compliance manager for Volkswagen in the US Oliver Schmidt was arrested by the FBI on a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States. On 11 January 2017 Volkswagen pleaded guilty to weaving a vast conspiracy to defraud the US government and obstructing a federal investigation and agreed to pay a US$2.8 billion criminal fine and US$1.5 billion in civil penalties. In addition, six executives have been criminally charged.
On 3 May 2018, former Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn was indicted on fraud and conspiracy charges in the emissions scandal case. He has repeatedly denied any knowledge of the rigged emissions tests.
On 25 October 2016, a final settlement was approved by a judge. About 475,000 Volkswagen owners in the US were given the choice between a buyback or a free fix and compensation, if a repair becomes available. Volkswagen will begin administering the settlement immediately, having already devoted several hundred employees to handling the process. Buybacks range in value from $12,475 to $44,176, including restitution payments, and vary based on mileage. People who opt for a fix approved by the Environmental Protection Agency will receive payouts ranging from $5,100 to $9,852, depending on the book value of their car.
Of the buyback, 138,000 had been completed by 18 February 2017 with 150,000 more to be returned. 52,000 chose to keep their cars. 67,000 diesel cars from model year 2015 were cleared for repairs, but left uncertainty about the future of 325,000 "Generation One" diesel VWs from the 2009-2014 model years, which use the "lean NO
x trap" and would be harder to repair.
In March 2018, Reuters reported that 294,000 cars from the buyback program have been stored at 37 regional US staging sites; some of the first reported sites included: Colorado Springs, Colorado; Pontiac, Michigan; Baltimore, Maryland; San Bernardino, California; and Gary, Indiana.
Volkswagen will also pay $2.7 billion for environmental mitigation and another $2 billion for clean-emissions infrastructure. Toward that end, Volkswagen formed a U.S. subsidiary called Electrify America, LLC., based in Reston, Virginia, that will manage the $2 billion brand-neutral zero-emission vehicle infrastructure programs and marketing campaigns for the next ten years. The group will get four installments of $500 million, at 2+1⁄2-year intervals, subject to California Air Resources Board and U.S. EPA approval. Volkswagen plans to install hundreds of chargers with 50, 150 and even some ultra-fast 320 kW charge rate, beginning in California in 2017. Competing charge networks (and automakers) saw the effort as controversial. In August 2018, Electrify America launched the first national media advertising campaign to promote electric vehicles; it featured the Chevy Bolt, with other EVs in cameo roles.
Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit
On 14 March 2019, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed a complaint against Volkswagen and its former CEO Martin Winterkorn alleging that they defrauded investors by selling corporate bonds and asset-backed securities while knowingly making false and misleading statements to government regulators, underwriters, and consumers as to the quality of their automobiles.
By 27 September 2015 at least 34 class-action lawsuits had been filed in the United States and Canada on behalf of Volkswagen and Audi owners, accusing Volkswagen of breach of contract, fraudulent concealment, false advertising, and violations of federal and state laws, and positing the "diminished value" of diesels that will be fixed to conform with pollution regulations, due to possible reductions in horsepower and fuel efficiency. According to Reuters, one reason class action lawyers were able to mobilize so fast is that the company's marketing to upscale professionals, including jurists, had backfired.
As of 30 September 2015[update], at least one investor lawsuit seeking class action status for holders of Volkswagen American Depositary Receipts had been filed in the United States seeking compensation for the drop in stock value due to the emissions scandal.
On 7 October 2015, the Los Angeles Times reported that the number of class-action lawsuits filed had grown to more than 230.
On 19 November 2015, ABC News Australia reported that more than 90,000 VW, Audi and Skoda diesel vehicle owners had filed a class action lawsuit against Volkswagen in the country's Federal Court.
On 8 December 2015, the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation issued an order consolidating over 500 class actions against Volkswagen into a single multidistrict litigation, captioned In re: Volkswagen 'Clean Diesel' Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2672, and transferred the entire MDL to Judge Charles R. Breyer of the federal district court for the Northern District of California.
On 21 January 2016, Judge Breyer held a hearing on the requests by over 150 plaintiff's attorneys for some kind of leadership role in the gigantic Volkswagen MDL, of which over 50 sought to serve as lead counsel or to chair the plaintiffs' steering committee. More than 100 of those attorneys tried to squeeze into his San Francisco courtroom to argue their requests in person, and some of them had to stand in the aisles or in the outside hallway. That afternoon, Judge Breyer issued an order naming 22 attorneys to a plaintiffs' steering committee, and of those, selected Elizabeth Cabraser of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein as chair of the committee. On the other side, Volkswagen hired Robert Giuffra of Sullivan & Cromwell as its lead defense counsel in the MDL.
On 14 March 2016, Volkswagen AG was sued in Germany for allegedly failing to inform financial markets in a timely manner about defeat devices used in diesel engines. The suit on behalf of 278 institutional investors seeks €3.3 billion (US$3.7 billion at March 2016 exchange rate) in compensation.BlackRock Inc., the world's largest asset manager, joined other institutional investors in the lawsuit in September 2016.
In November 2015, Moody's Investors Service downgraded Volkswagen's bond credit rating from A2 to A3.Fitch Ratings downgraded Volkswagen's Long-term Issuer Default Rating by two notches to BBB+, with a negative outlook.
In May 2016, The Children's Investment Fund Management, run by Chris Hohn and retaining a 2 percent stake in Volkswagen preference stock, launched a campaign aiming to overhaul the company's executive pay system, arguing that "for years management has been richly rewarded with massive compensation despite presiding over a productivity and profit collapse", thereby leading to an "aggressive management behavior" and contributing to the diesel emission scandal. Later the same month, German investor group DSW called for an independent audit of Volkswagen's emissions-cheating practices, arguing that the company's internal investigation might not necessarily make everything transparent to smaller shareholders.
On 28 June 2016, Volkswagen agreed to pay $15.3 billion to settle the various public and private civil actions in the United States, the largest settlement ever of an automobile-related consumer class action in United States history. On 25 October 2016, a U.S. federal judge approved the settlement. Up to $10 billion will be paid to 475,000 Volkswagen or Audi owners whose cars are equipped with 2.0-litre diesel engines. Owners can also opt to have their car repaired free of charge or can sell it back to the company, who will pay back its estimated value from before the scandal began. Leases can also be terminated without incurring penalty charges. Independent of which options are selected, owners will still receive compensation ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 per affected car. Additionally, should they choose to decline the offer, they are free to pursue independent legal action against the firm. The settlement also includes $2.7 billion for environmental mitigation, $2 billion to promote zero-emissions vehicles and $603 million for claims by 44 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Volkswagen agreed not to resell or export any vehicles it repurchases unless an approved emission repair has been completed. As of 28 June 2016
Tdi recall ea288
UPDATE 12/4/19: German prosecutors raided Volkswagen's Wolfsburg, Germany, headquarters on December 3, as part of a fresh investigation into diesel VWs. This time, they are reportedly interested in the EA288 four-cylinder engine, successor to the EA189 diesel engine around which the Dieselgate investigation has centered. Reuters cited Volkswagen as saying the EA288 engine did not have a "defeat" device to beat emissions testing. We will update with new information as it becomes available.
General Motors and Toyota had their massive scandals. Now it’s Volkswagen’s turn. The company, which owns 70 percent of the U.S. passenger-car diesel market, is in major trouble for cheating on diesel-emissions tests. After years of promoting “Clean Diesel” as an alternative to hybrid and electric vehicles—the company even marched on Washington with a squadron of Audi TDI models—Volkswagen is stewing in its own toxic vapors. Here’s our handy guide to what’s happening.
Volkswagen installed emissions software on more than a half-million diesel cars in the U.S.—and roughly 10.5 million more worldwide—that allows them to sense the unique parameters of an emissions drive cycle set by the Environmental Protection Agency. According to the EPA and the California Air Resources Board, which were tipped off by researchers in 2014, these so-called “defeat devices” detect steering, throttle, and other inputs used in the test to switch between two distinct operating modes.
In the test mode, the cars are fully compliant with all federal emissions levels. But when driving normally, the computer switches to a separate mode—significantly changing the fuel pressure, injection timing, exhaust-gas recirculation, and, in models with AdBlue, the amount of urea fluid sprayed into the exhaust. While this mode likely delivers higher mileage and power, it also permits heavier nitrogen-oxide emissions (NOx)—a smog-forming pollutant linked to lung cancer—up to 40 times higher than the federal limit. That doesn’t mean every TDI is pumping 40 times as much NOx as it should. Some cars may emit just a few times over the limit, depending on driving style and load.
Which cars are affected? Will my car pass state inspection?
The following Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche diesel models have been cited by the EPA for emissions violations. There is no recall, and the cars pass all state inspections, at least for now. Remember, VW has admitted to violating federal emissions laws, and as such, it’s neither a state nor a safety issue. However, if Volkswagen does issue a recall, some states (particularly California and some that follow Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle standards) may prevent owners from renewing their registration if they don’t complete the fix.
- 2009–2015 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0L TDI
- 2010–2015 Volkswagen Golf 2.0L TDI
- 2010–2015 Audi A3 2.0L TDI
- 2012–2015 Volkswagen Beetle 2.0L TDI
- 2012–2015 Volkswagen Passat 2.0L TDI
- 2009–2015 Audi Q7 3.0L V-6 TDI
- 2009–2016 Volkswagen Touareg 3.0L V-6 TDI
- 2013–2016 Porsche Cayenne Diesel 3.0L V-6
- 2014–2016 Audi A6 3.0L V-6 TDI
- 2014–2016 Audi A7 3.0L V-6 TDI
- 2014–2016 Audi A8/A8L 3.0L V-6 TDI
- 2014–2016 Audi Q5 3.0L V-6 TDI
What diesels can’t I buy?
Volkswagen, Audi, and Porsche dealers can’t sell any new diesels, except for certain 2015 models sold as new. They also cannot sell most used and certified pre-owned diesels. Volkswagen has since committed to electric cars, and it’s possible the company will not sell a TDI diesel in the U.S. ever again.
What’s Volkswagen doing for customers? And when can I get my car fixed?
Buybacks and compensation for 2.0-liter Volkswagen and Audi TDI models:
U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer approved the final $14.7 billion settlement on October 25, 2016, after which Volkswagen will start mailing notifications to all current affected owners and lessees of 2.0-liter cars informing them of the $10 billion buyback program. Judge Breyer had approved the preliminary settlement for the same amount on July 26, 2016. TDI owners who purchased their cars before September 17, 2015, can sell their cars back to Volkswagen for between $12,500 and $44,000, depending on model, age, trim, and region. TDI lessees will receive a cash value between $2600 and $4900. Owners and lessees who sold their cars or quit their leases before June 28, 2016, are also eligible. The buyback process started in November 2016. Official details and a VIN lookup are here. Exact payouts for all affected models can be found here.
Through October 18, 2016, 340,000 owners and lessees have sent in registration forms indicating they want the company to buy back their cars under the government-negotiated compensation agreement. That’s nearly three-quarters of all 475,000 Volkswagen and Audi models with 2.0-liter diesel engines currently registered on U.S. roads.
Owners who do not sell their cars back to Volkswagen will receive between $5100 and $10,000 to compensate for diminished resale value, plus a free emissions fix (see full details here). All owners and lessees of 2.0-liter TDI models will have up to May 2018 to decide their options. The approximately 3500 owners and lessees who previously opted out of the settlement have until May 12, 2017, to accept the terms and collect their payments.
Owners are also eligible to receive up to $350 each as part of a separate $327.5 million settlement with Bosch, the supplier of the emissions software (lessees each receive $200). Details are available here. The eligibility dates for the VW settlement correspond to the day immediately before the EPA first announced the violations and the day the EPA announced its preliminary settlement with the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission.
What if I owned an affected Volkswagen or Audi TDI model but sold or traded it in before the diesel-emissions scandal became public?
In early October 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer ruled that consumers could join in class-action lawsuits even if they previously owned or leased a “clean diesel” product but no longer had it at the time the fraud charges came to light. The judge ruled that TDI technology increased the price of the VW and Audi vehicles and therefore added to the amount they depreciated, meaning the owners could still have been harmed.
Repairs and fixes for 2.0-liter Volkswagen and Audi TDI models:
There are three generations of the 2.0-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder, and all will require different fixes (from simple software updates to complete, and potentially performance-crippling, hardware retrofits). As of January 6, 2017, Volkswagen announced a complete fix for 2015 TDI models with the third-generation engine. This will involve installing a second NOx sensor and a new or replacement diesel-oxidation catalyst. In March 2017, VW received approval to sell these cars, of which there are approximately 12,000 new and 67,000 used.
On May 19, 2017, VW received approval to repair 2012–2014 Passat TDI models. A total of 84,391 cars are included, except those with manual transmissions; CARB said VW had not shown sufficient evidence that they will be made compliant. VW is awaiting approval to resell these vehicles as used cars.
Buybacks and compensation for 3.0-liter Volkswagen and Audi TDI and Porsche diesel models:
As of December 21, 2016, Volkswagen reached a second settlement with the roughly 78,000 owners and lessees of 3.0-liter diesel models. In late January 2017, Volkswagen announced a $1.2 billion program that differs substantially from the $10 billion program for 2.0-liter diesel models. Judge Breyer approved the final settlement amount on May 11, 2017. Currently, only owners of 2009–2012 Audi Q7 and Volkswagen Touareg models with the Generation 1 engine are eligible for buybacks between $24,755 and $57,157. This is because Volkswagen cannot repair them to be emissions compliant. Generation 1 lessees of 2012 vehicles can receive between $5001 and $6615 for terminating their leases early. Generation 1 owners who do not sell their cars back to Volkswagen can receive $7755 to $13,880.
For Generation 2 models between 2013–2016, Volkswagen will offer cash compensation ranging from $7039 to $16,114; if the recall isn’t made “timely available,” the automaker will buy them back for prices between $43,153 to $99,862 and extend any warranties that might expire until the recall is ready. Generation 2 lessees can receive between $5677 and $12,492 for terminating their leases early. If lessees decide to keep their cars and perform the fix, they each receive a flat $2000. In all cases with Generation 2 cars, owners and lessees can opt to receive half of the cash payments up front and the other half once the vehicle is repaired. Generation 2 owners and lessees are also eligible to receive up to $1500 each as part of a separate $327.5 million settlement with Bosch, the supplier of the emissions software. Details are available here.
These prices have been set using NADA Used Car Guide Clean Retail values as of November 2015 and adjusted for options, mileage, and the region the vehicle was registered in as of that month. The 2016 diesel models will be repurchased at 12.9 percent above prices for equivalent 2015 models. Owners and lessees will also be reimbursed for state and local taxes. The registration deadline is December 31, 2019. Owners and lessees will get the same payment (adjusted for mileage) regardless of when they register.
Repairs and fixes for 3.0-liter Volkswagen and Audi TDI and Porsche diesel models:
There are two versions of the 3.0-liter turbo-diesel V-6 that require different modifications. The Generation 1 engines in the 2009–2012 Audi Q7 and Volkswagen Touareg cannot be made fully compliant with EPA regulations. Generation 2 engines in 2013–2016 models will be fixed under a recall covering 38,745 vehicles. The 2013–2014 Touareg, 2013–2014 Cayenne, and 2015 Q7, all with the so-called Generation 2.1 version of the 3.0-liter TDI V-6, will receive a software upgrade and a hardware fix. The 2015–2016 Touareg and Cayenne models (with the Generation 2.2 engine) will get only software changes. Owners who opt for the fix still additionally receive roughly $8500 to $17,500. On those 58,000 models, Audi said on November 23, 2015, that it would update the software and “resubmit” its emissions applications after the EPA found undocumented “auxiliary emission control devices” that were allowing excessive levels of NOx.
Expired incentive programs:
As part of its Customer Goodwill package, Volkswagen offered $1000 cash to every owner of a 2.0-liter TDI named in the EPA’s first violation notice: a $500 prepaid Visa card to spend on anything and another $500 cash card valid only at Volkswagen dealerships (to use toward another car, service, or lots of VW hats). They also could get free 24-hour roadside assistance for the next three years. The deadline to register for that program ended April 30. The same offer was extended to owners of 3.0-liter diesel models, who had until July 31. Audi, Porsche, and VW TDI owners who took delivery after November 8 were not eligible (full rules here). Current owners of any VW model were also able to get a $2000 cash rebate toward a new car, although this incentive may continue to vary or expire as time progresses. Dealers also have “discretionary” cash they can use to sweeten deals (and they’re getting guaranteed kickbacks for some models). Basically, if Volkswagen is on your shopping list, now’s the time to haggle like a pro.
Don’t all automakers tailor their cars to ace the EPA test cycle? Why single out VW?
Automakers optimize powertrains for each second of the EPA’s dynamometer tests (Federal Test Procedure 75, the one VW’s computers detect, runs for 1370 seconds). They have to, because they’re required to self-certify every model on sale. The EPA verifies roughly 15 percent of those tests each year. In rare cases, automakers grossly overstate fuel economy (as Ford and Kia did) and can take advantage of loopholes in the certification process.
Yet these standardized tests, as flawed as they may be in comparison to real-world driving, are critical. Performed correctly, they’re at least an accurate method to assess legal compliance and provide a fair comparison for consumers. Right now, there’s no indication that automakers program their cars to run in a wildly different fashion on the road, even as the EPA and the German government attempt to prove otherwise. Volkswagen explicitly did, and that’s why it’s getting hammered.
What are selective catalytic reduction and urea injection?
Diesel fuel is carbon rich and close in composition to home heating oil. As such, it’s inherently dirty and sooty when burned. While heavy-duty diesel pickups, vans, trucks, and other commercial vehicles follow looser environmental standards, light-duty vehicles have it tough—and nowhere is it tougher to certify a diesel car or truck than in the U.S. In order to trap particulates and curb nitrogen oxide in practically all new diesel engines, selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and urea injection must be used.
A three-way catalytic converter in gasoline vehicles treats exhaust gas by both oxidizing (adding oxygen to convert carbon monoxide and other hydrocarbons to carbon dioxide and water) and reducing (removing oxygen to convert nitrogen oxide to nitrogen and water). But diesel engines burn so lean that they require separate oxidation and reduction catalysts. After diesel exhaust passes through the oxidation catalyst and a particulate filter, diesel exhaust fluid (DEF, branded by VW as AdBlue) is injected into the stream before entering the reduction catalyst. DEF is a precise mixture of one-third urea and two-thirds deionized water and must be refilled (typically at manufacturer-recommended oil-change intervals) from a separate tank.
If this sounds complex and expensive, that’s because it is. And very likely, that’s why VW chose not to install SCR and urea injection on most of its TDI models.
What’s going to happen to Volkswagen?
On January 11, 2018, the news came that VW is suing at least one of its former executives who was sentenced to federal prison for his role in the company's diesel emission scandal. According to Automotive News, the automaker wants to "recover a large part" of the legal costs it spent defending Oliver Schmidt, which amount to more than $4 million. Schmidt was formerly general manager of the company's environmental office in Michigan. In December 2017, he was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay a $400,000 fine. Five other VW executives have been charged, while a lower-ranking engineer was also sentenced to prison in January 2017.
On January 11, 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice announced $4.3 billion in criminal and civil penalties and arrested six VW executives for their alleged connection with the scandal. A total of eight current and former executives have been charged with various crimes. On August 21, 2017, VW engineer James Liang was sentenced to 40 months in prison and a $200,000 fine. He pleaded guilty in September 2016. Oliver Schmidt, former general manager of the company’s environmental office in Michigan, was sentenced on December 6 to seven years in prison and a $400,000 fine by U.S. District Court Judge Sean Cox in Detroit, who called Schmidt a “key conspirator” who “knowingly misled and lied to government officials.” A “corporate compliance monitor” will be watching VW for three years under the terms of its probation. On April 21, 2017, VW was officially sentenced in a Michigan federal court for these violations.
On January 4, 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice first sued Volkswagen on behalf of the EPA. Volkswagen will now pay $14.7 billion to settle with three federal agencies suing the automaker for its excessive diesel emissions, the highest ever paid by a company for violations under the Clean Air Act. The Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Department of Justice announced the partial settlement on June 28, 2016. Aside from the $10 billion buyback program, another $2.7 billion will fund future state-level projects that reduce nitrogen-oxide emissions under the EPA’s Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, which are federal grants marked to replace old diesel engines and for retrofit kits for alternative-fuel powertrains and other similar vehicle hardware.
Volkswagen must buy back 85 percent of all cars by June 2019, or else it must pay even more to fund such projects. The automaker also must spend $2 billion over the next 10 years to invest in green energy and electric cars, including paying for new public charging stations and public-education programs.
Under the latest settlement with 3.0-liter diesels, Volkswagen will also be required to pay an additional $225 million toward projects that reduce NOx emissions. California will receive $41 million of that, and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) wrote into the settlement some very specific requirements for the sale of electric vehicles.
A Canadian settlement, which keeps to terms that are comparable to the U.S. settlement finalized in October, will cover about 105,000 vehicles there and potentially cost the automaker the equivalent of U.S. $1.6 billion. As in the United States, Canadian owners will be eligible to sell their vehicle back at an agreed-upon price or opt to fix their vehicle and receive a payment. And under a tentative consumer settlement in Canada, Volkswagen and Audi Canada will pay out the equivalent of U.S. $11.2 million.
Additional civil penalties and further state-level fines have not been determined but could add billions more. Volkswagen had originally set aside more than $7 billion to cover recall-related costs.
Since news of the first violation broke on September 18, 2015, more than a quarter of the company’s market cap has been wiped out with its nosediving stock price through June 28, 2016, and the company has abandoned its goal of becoming the world’s largest automaker by 2018. Volkswagen is not even concerned with its U.S. sales numbers until this problem is resolved, according to chairman Herbert Diess. The company has posted consecutive U.S. monthly sales losses since November.
CEO Matthias Müller—who said the company didn’t lie but faces a “technical problem“—has now ordered a complete reorganization that will see 30 battery-electric vehicles introduced across its 12 divisions by 2025. It inevitably will lead to firings, model cuts across its 340 variants, and other corporate changes. So far, though, even seemingly frivolous divisions like Bugatti aren’t getting axed. Former CEO Martin Winterkorn, who resigned in September, reportedly received a memo regarding the diesel problem in May 2014. He has not confirmed whether he actually read it.
All right, I’d like some more free money. How can I sue?
There are already a couple hundred lawsuits alleging economic harm against VW’s now infamous “Clean Diesel” marketing campaign and the half-million cars under EPA violation. None have yet been consolidated before the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. For the time being, Hagens-Berman, a huge firm that squeezed $1.1 billion from Toyota and intends to sue General Motors for $10 billion, has a class-action lawsuit ready and waiting.
What are TDI owners actually doing?
As Greenpeace and other environmental groups lambaste VW, the obligatory news articles profiling angry TDI drivers have popped up. Granted, there are some people genuinely upset with VW for misleading them about their car’s emissions levels. But as we see it, the majority of TDI buyers are knowledgeable enthusiasts in love with sky-high fuel economy, torque, durability, and low running costs. Some really frugal types convert their TDIs to run on refined vegetable oil or biodiesel. These people are die-hards.
If any fix Volkswagen proposes ends up hampering performance—be it increased fuel consumption or a loss of power—many TDI owners may very well ignore a recall. It’s a tricky legal situation, as neither the EPA nor the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration can force individual owners to update their cars. Several bills in Congress have proposed banning registration renewals for car owners who don’t complete recalls, but they’re a long way from becoming law. For now, most TDI owners are continuing to putter about, despite a considerable drop in resale values. With more time, we’ll have a fuller picture.
This story was originally published on November 13, 2015; it is being constantly updated to reflect the latest developments in the VW diesel-emissions scandal.
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