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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

VW settles part of emissions cheating scandal

Volkswagen (VW) has agreed to a $14.7 billion settlement with U.S. and California authorities to resolve its unprecedented emissions cheating scandal, according to an announcement by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) yesterday. 

Part of a partial Consent Decree issued by U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer, the agreement is the largest in automaker history. In addition to CARB, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the edict.

Photo: USEPA, Fair Use

The scandal was revealed after CARB engineers discovered that VW had installed "defeat devices" in certain 2.0-liter diesel powered passenger vehicles sold under the VW and Audi nameplates. The devices prevented federal and California required emission control equipment from operating properly unless the system detected that the vehicle was undergoing an emissions inspection, at which point its programming caused the equipment to do what it was required to do by law.

Approximately 500,000 such vehicles were sold in the United States between model years 2009 and 2015. About 71,000 were sold in California. The scandal was particularly notorious because the vehicles were promoted as ones that utilized clean diesel technology, thus encouraging potential owners and lessees to choose the vehicles because they were duped into thinking that they were doing their part to help the environment.

 A similar scandal involving 3.0-liter engines sold in VW, Audi, and Porsche vehicles, is not part of this agreement.

  • Buy back, terminate leases, or provide approved emissions modifications for nearly 475,000 2.0-liter TDI diesel cars in the U.S.;
  • Provide cash payments to owners/lessees;
  • Pay for environmental remediation; and
  • Promote zero emissions vehicle (ZEV) technology.

California will receive about $1.2 billion to mitigate environmental damage caused by VW's cheating.

“The court’s approval of the largest settlement for California under the Clean Air Act sets in motion a public process that will develop a range of projects to mitigate the harmful health effects of smog,” said CARB’s Chair Mary D. Nichols. “While we continue to pursue penalties for these violations -- and a resolution for 3.0-liter vehicles which were also equipped with defeat devices -- this decision sends a clear message that California will continue  to ensure cars and tailpipes meet the standards designed to protect the public from pollution and smog.” 

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