Volkswagen Caught Cheating on Emissions Testing

A toxic revelation about the use of software to cheat emissions testing, found in 11 million Volkswagen vehicles, has taken down the company's CEO and could cost the company around $7.3 billion.

2 minute read

September 23, 2015, 11:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


"The Obama administration…directed Volkswagen to recall nearly a half-million cars, saying the automaker illegally installed software in its diesel-power cars to evade standards for reducing smog," report Coral Davenport and Jack Ewing.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency notified the car company of a violation of the Clean Air Act [pdf] on certain models released between 2009 and 2015. As explained in the article, the software cheats the regulations by only running full emissions controls when the cars are being tested. "During normal driving situations," however "the controls are turned off, allowing the cars to spew as much as 40 times as much pollution as allowed under the Clean Air Act," according to Davenport and Ewing.

Max Nisen follows up on the original news, also adding that researchers from West Virginia "found that a 2012 Jetta and a 2013 Passat had substantially higher than reported emissions in use. VW claimed technical issues and unexpected in-use conditions initially, and conducted a voluntary recall. But follow up testing by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the EPA revealed that the claimed technical issues couldn’t explain what was happening so consistently." A threat from CARB and the EPA prompted the car company to admit its use of the cheat devices.

Andrea Petersen and Brian Fung also provide more information about how the tech behind the cheat devices works. Jason Karaian reports in a separate article that the technology is in place on some 11 million vehicles round the world. "The group said it will set aside €6.5 billion ($7.3 billion) in the current quarter to 'cover the necessary service measures and other efforts to win back the trust of our customers,'" writes Karaian.

Finally, on Wednesday morning, news broke that Volkswagon CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned from his position in the wake of the scandal.

Friday, September 18, 2015 in The New York Times

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