Surprise! That VW Emissions Cheat May Be Legal!


Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks (See what I did, there?), you already know about the diesel emissions scandal that’s rocked Volkswagen to the core. To sum up, more than eleven million Volkswagen and Audi vehicles equipped with 2.0 TDi and 1.4 TDi engines were fitted with software that could detect when the car was being emissions tested. If the car thought it was in a test “mode”, emissions got a lot better. Otherwise, well- they weren’t good, and could cost the company $18 billion in EPA fines if it’s found guilty of breaking the laws. That’s the thing, though: it looks like that emissions cheat might be perfectly legal.

According to the minutes from a 2012 meeting of the European Union’s approval authorities, “a manufacturer could specify a special setting that is not normally used for everyday driving” during test procedures. Granted, I don’t think the EU’s governing bodies thought that “special mode” would be used to manipulate the testing, but there it is … and Volkswagen’s attorneys are all over it. “It is still being determined whether the software in question officially constituted a ‘defeat device’,” reads a letter from VW’s UK Paul Willis, to the House of Commons Transport Committee.

You can bet Volkswagen is looking for similar wording in American EPA and Californian CARB laws, respectively.

Even if Volkswagen manages to avoid any legal system consequences for its actions, the company will still have a long way to go before it regains America’s trust. Or, does it? If you found out Volkswagen simply used a loophole in the law, and didn’t actually break any laws, would you be cool with it? Let us know!


Source: VW, via Autoexpress UK.

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.