Just when U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials thought they had a handle on Volkswagen's emissions cheating, new information has shown that even more vehicles were illegally sidestepping clean air testing than they had originally thought.
The EPA in November issued the German automaker a second notice of violation of the Clean Air Act because more VW-made cars than the EPA first thought contained a "defeat device" that illegally concealed air pollution violations during emissions testing. Now we know that 3.0 liter engines, not solely 2.0 liter models, evaded an accurate emissions measurement.
"The NOV alleges," EPA wrote, "that VW developed and installed a defeat device in certain VW, Audi and Porsche light duty diesel vehicles equipped with 3.0 liter engines for model years (MY) 2014 through 2016 that increases emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) up to nine times EPA's standard. The vehicles covered by today's NOV are the diesel versions of: the 2014 VW Touareg, the 2015 Porsche Cayenne, and the 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L, and Q5. EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) have both initiated investigations based on Volkswagen's alleged actions. The NOV covers approximately 10,000 diesel passenger cars already sold in the United States since MY 2014. In addition, the NOV covers an unknown volume of 2016 vehicles. These alleged violations are in addition to the NOV issued on September 18th and the ongoing investigation by EPA alleging a defeat device on certain 2.0 liter engines for MY 2009-2015 vehicles."
The vehicles and model years in question from the first round of violations in September include:
· Jetta (MY 2009 - 2015)
· Jetta Sportwagen (MY 2009-2014)
· Beetle (MY 2012 - 2015)
· Beetle Convertible (MY 2012-2015)
· Audi A3 (MY 2010 - 2015)
· Golf (MY 2010 - 2015)
· Golf Sportwagen (MY 2015)
· Passat (MY 2012-2015)
Volkswagen's activities even have members of Congress shaking their heads as they launch their own probes. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, Ranking Member Frank Pallone Jr., Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy, and Ranking Member Diana DeGette commented Nov. 20 on the inclusion of additional 3.0 liter diesel engines in the EPA's violation notice.
"Today's announcement," they wrote in a joint statement, "adds to the growing list of troubling questions for Volkswagen, and we need answers. Our investigation continues."
The members' statement further explained, "The Energy and Commerce Committee is investigating the facts and circumstances around Volkswagen's emissions cheating and how it went undetected for so long."
EPA officials didn't make any "gotcha" remarks. They simply stated the sorry truth.
"VW has once again failed its obligation to comply with the law that protects clean air for all Americans," said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for the Office for EPA's Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "All companies should be playing by the same rules. EPA - with our state and federal partners - will continue to investigate these serious matters, to secure the benefits of the Clean Air Act, ensure a level playing field for responsible businesses, and to ensure consumers get the environmental performance they expect."
The bottom line from a legal standpoint is that the owners of even more models may be entitled to compensation from VW. Anyone who purchased one of the defective models may call 1-866-LAW-2400 for a free consultation as to what legal options are available.
Many Volkswagen lawsuits filed this fall request that the court force VW to buy back the vehicle and to award other statutorily permitted damages. Those suits, in many cases, have asserted that vehicle owners would not have purchased the cars or would have bought them for substantially less had they known the whole truth. Additionally, even if Volkswagen removes the defeat device, the owner remains stuck with a vehicle that does not perform as advertised.