Volkswagen owns around 70 percent of the diesel passenger car market in the U.S., but the company has come under fire recently as a result of emissions and other scandals regarding their vehicle models. A common part of the testing product for these models includes a diesel emissions analysis, and new reports and studies indicate that the company has acknowledged playing a role in gaming the system in order to manipulate the results of these tests.
Approximately half a million diesel cars in the U.S. alone (in addition to more than 10 million around the globe) had software installed that allowed the testing phase for these cars to reveal more positive emissions results than were actually possible when traditional drivers operated the cars. The general emissions drive cycle test is managed by the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S., and in conjunction with the California Air Resources Board, researchers identified that the impacted cars had what is being referred to as a “defeat device” installed. This device was used to determine throttle, steering, and other inputs in order to switch back and forth between separate operating modes for testing purposes to reveal better outputs.
When the cars went through the testing phase, they appeared to be compliant with all federal rules for emissions. However, when the vehicles were being driven by real consumers, the other mode of the car was engaged, one that fails to meet emissions standards. The separate operating mode for actual use comes with distinctly different injection timing, fuel pressure, and exhaust-gas recirculation. Higher levels of nitrogen-oxide emissions occur with this operating mode.
As of now, there is no recall for these vehicles, but some states may prevent owners from being able to renew their vehicle registration in the future if their car fails to meet standards. A broad range of cars are impacted, and you should consult with the manufacturer if you own a car that falls into the following categories of Porsche, Audi, and Volkswagen:
- 2009–2015 Volkswagen Jetta0L TDI
- 2010–2015 Volkswagen Golf0L TDI
- 2009–2016 Volkswagen Touareg0L V-6 TDI
- 2009–2015 Audi Q70L V-6 TDI
- 2014–2016 Audi A60L V-6 TDI
- 2012–2015 Volkswagen Passat0L TDI
- 2012–2015 Volkswagen Beetle0L TDI
- 2014–2016 Audi A70L V-6 TDI
- 2013–2016 Porsche Cayenne Diesel0L V-6
- 2014–2016 Audi A8/A8L0L V-6 TDI
- 2014–2016 Audi Q50L V-6 TDI
- 2010–2015 Audi A30L TDI
Currently, Porsche, Audi, and Volkswagen dealers are under a stop sale order in order to prevent any new diesels from being sold. Some new models will also not be debuting as planned as a result of the scandal and emissions issues.
The Department of Justice took legal action on Volkswagen in early 2016, filing suit against the carmaker on behalf of the EPA. On October 25th, U.S. District Court Judge Charles Breyer approved a $14.7 billion settlement for all lessees and owners of impacted models. This includes a $10 billion buyback program. Those owners who choose not to sell their car back to Volkswagen are eligible to receive a check for diminished resale value.
Several hundred lawsuits have already been filed by owners of these vehicles. They have not, as of yet, been consolidated into multi-district litigation.