Environment: More trouble for VW

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The EPA is making new allegations against VW for clean air violations.

EPA says automaker skirted clean air regs with additional diesel vehicles

By Bob Berwyn

There’s more trouble ahead for VW, as the EPA this week issued a second formal notice to the German automaker alleging further Clean Air Act violations.

The latest notice from the EPA is also being issued to Porsche AG and Porsche Cars North America. Along with the vehicles identified last month, the EPA now says that VW, Porsche and Audi also installed illegal air pollution “defeat devices” in additional cars, including the diesel versions of: the 2014 VW Touareg, the 2015 Porsche Cayenne, and the 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L, and Q5.

The NOV covers approximately 10,000 diesel passenger cars already sold in the United States since MY 2014.  In addition, the NOV covers an unknown volume of 2016 vehicles.

“VW has once again failed its obligation to comply with the law that protects clean air for all Americans,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the Office for EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “All companies should be playing by the same rules. EPA, with our state, and federal partners, will continue to investigate these serious matters, to secure the benefits of the Clean Air Act, ensure a level playing field for responsible businesses, and to ensure consumers get the environmental performance they expect.”

California air quality officials said additional testing has raised serious concerns about the presence of defeat devices on additional VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles.

“Today we are requiring VW Group to address these issues. This is a very serious public health matter. ARB and EPA will continue to conduct a rigorous investigation that includes testing more vehicles until all of the facts are out in the open,” said Richard Corey, executive officer of the California Air Resources Board.

Affected diesel models include:

— 2014 VW Touareg
— 2015 Porsche Cayenne
— 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L, and Q5

November 2 Notice of Violation Details:

As alleged in the NOV, VW manufactured and installed software in the electronic control module of these vehicles that senses when the vehicle is being tested for compliance with EPA emissions standards. When the vehicle senses that it is undergoing a federal emissions test procedure, it operates in a low NOx “temperature conditioning” mode. Under that mode, the vehicle meets emission standards.

At exactly one second after the completion of the initial phases of the standard test procedure, the vehicle immediately changes a number of operating parameters that increase NOx emissions and indicates in the software that it is transitioning to “normal mode,” where emissions of NOx increase up to nine times the EPA standard, depending on the vehicle and type of driving conditions.

In other tests where the vehicle does not experience driving conditions similar to the start of the federal test procedure, the emissions are higher from the start, consistent with “normal mode.”

NOx pollution contributes to harmful ground-level ozone and fine particulate matter. Exposure to these pollutants has been linked with a range of serious health effects, including increased asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses. Exposure to ozone and particulate matter has also been associated with premature death due to respiratory-related or cardiovascular-related effects. Children, the elderly, and people with pre-existing respiratory disease are particularly at risk of health effects from exposure to these pollutants.

VW may be liable for civil penalties and injunctive relief for the violations alleged in the NOV. VW will have an opportunity to respond to the allegations contained in the NOV.

It is Volkswagen’s responsibility to fix the vehicles’ emissions systems. Although these vehicles have emissions exceeding standards, these violations do not present a safety hazard for car owners and drivers and the vehicles remain legal to drive and resell. Owners of vehicles of these models and years do not need to take any action at this time. Owners looking for additional information can visit: http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/cert/violations.htm and scroll down to Frequently Asked Questions.

More information on EPA’s NOV and EPA’s VW investigation: http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/cert/violations.htm|

More information on CARB’s In-Use Compliance Letter: http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/vw_info/vw_diesel_info.htm

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