The Volkswagen Diesel Dupe
Posted by Aubrey at January 12th, 2016
The issue regarding emissions fraud continues to haunt giant German car manufacturer Volkswagen, which now faces the threat of a civil lawsuit due to its violation of the Clean Air Act, a federal environmental law which is enforced by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Since 2009, Volkswagen has been able to sell close to 500,000 diesel cars which are claimed to provide better mileage and lower carbon dioxide emissions compared to cars that run on gasoline. But while it does emit less of this global-warming gas, environmental protection authorities discovered that far from what Volkswagen claimed, its diesel cars actually emits more particulate matter and nitrogen oxide (NOx) which are far more hazardous to people’s health.
Nitrogen oxide adds to the formation of ground level ozone, while particulate matter, which contains soot and metal, gives smog a murky color. If using diesel, however, can be more hazardous than using gasoline, how was it that Volkswagen got to enter the US market and sell about half a million of its cars that run on diesel, considering the strict enforcement of the 1955 Air Pollution Control Act, the 1963 Clean Air Act, and the 1967 Air Quality Act? Believe it or not, but it is by cheating emissions tests conducted in the US.
It appears that various VW cars have been equipped with a “defeat device,” a type of computer software that allows a car to detect if it were being tested, changing its performance accordingly for favorable results. This means that, while under controlled laboratory settings, the device puts the vehicle into some sort of safety mode, making its engine function below its normal power and performance; it switches out of test mode though once it is back on the road, where it emits pollutants that are up to 40 times higher than the limit determined under the Clean Air Act.
A Volkswagen emissions fraud lawsuit has been filed by the US Justice Department on behalf of the EPA, a civil case that could result to VW facing up to $90 billion in fines. Besides the immensely huge fine, the EPA has also ordered a massive recall of Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche and many other models of diesel cars equipped with the defeat device. Thus far, the number of cars to be recalled in the US is estimated at 482,000; worldwide, the number is said to go beyond 10 million.