VW Cheats EPA Tests, Faces Up to $18 Billion in Fines

VW Epic Fail

Unnamed sources within Volkswagen have confirmed that the German automaker fitted its “clean” TDi diesel cars with devices meant to detect when the car is undergoing official emissions testing, and will activate full emissions controls only during the official test. That confession comes after findings from West Virginia University, which uncovered the defeat devices, led to company officials being questioned by both CARB and the EPA.

The device in question deactivated key emissions controls systems, and the popular VW TDi models fitted with the cheat — a list that, so far, includes the VW Golf, Jetta, Beetle, and Passat TDi models, as well as the Audi A3 and A4 — produced up to 40 times more nitrogen oxide and other dangerous emissions, in some cases.

For its part, the EPA is absolutely losing its s*** about this, stating that “it is incumbent” on Volkswagen to initiate a recall fix for all the affected cars. “Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Working closely with the California Air Resources Board, (the) EPA is committed to making sure that all automakers play by the same rules. (The) EPA will continue to investigate these very serious matters.”

If the EPA and CARB decide to press the dual issues of Volkswagen deliberately cheating environmental testing procedures and marketing their TDi models as “clean diesels,” it could levy fines of up to 18 billion (with a b) US American dollars on VW. An amount which could be enough to force VW out of the US market.

What do you guys think about this mess? Should Volkswagen be held liable to the fullest extent of the law for violating the public’s trust by willfully and maliciously manipulating the EPA test procedures? Should VW be given a slap on the wrist because we all love the Beetle? Is this just the tip of a fraudulent clean diesel iceberg that will soon sink Mercedes-Benz and BMW, too? Let us know what you think in the comments section at the bottom of the page.

Source | Images: AutoGuide, IIHS.

Jo Borrás

I've been in the auto industry 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the IM network. You can also find me on Twitter, at my Volvo fansite, out on two wheels, or chasing my kids around Oak Park, IL.