Diesel cars are becoming popular in the US, since they get much better gas mileage, and more than a quarter of the car maker’s sales in the United States have been diesel models.
Consumer Reports has already stripped the cars of their “recommended” ratings.
The company acknowledged that they have been cheating on the air pollution tests given by the US Environmental Protection Agency for years. Between 2009 and 2015, their cars were programmed with software that only turned on the full pollution controls when the vehicles were being tested to determine their emissions. However, once the car hits the road, it emits 10-40 times more than the legal limits.
Volkswagen reportedly focused its research and development on diesel cars and not hybrids or electric cars, so it was critical for the company for the technology to meet tougher vehicle emissions regulations that the EPA will start enforcing over the next several years.
The EPA will likely fine Volkswagen heavily, and may even bring criminal charges against some of the company’s executives. The car compay could owe up to $37,500 per violation, according to the Cynthia Giles, the EPA’s assistant administrator for enforcement. With about 482,000 violations, the German carmaker may owe the US $18 billion.
Tampering with monitoring devices and lying to the EPA are both considered criminal acts as outlined in the Clean Air Act. A consumer class-action suit against Volkswagen already began court proceedings on Friday.
Of course, Volkswagen is not the only car company to be disciplined by the EPA. In 2014, Ford Motor Co. lowered their mileage estimates and was required to pay $200-$1,050 per affected customer. A 2012 investigation also made Kia and Hyundai relabel some popular models.
Image (c) Volkswagen