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Frequent Questions about Volkswagen Violations
- What happened?
On September 18, 2015, EPA issued a Notice of Violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. alleging that model year 2009 – 2015 Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars equipped with 2.0 liter engines - approximately 500,000 vehicles - included software that circumvents EPA emissions standards for nitrogen oxides. This software is a “defeat device” as defined by the Clean Air Act.
On November 2, EPA issued a second Notice of Violation to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. This notice was also issued to Porsche AG and Porsche Cars North America. These five companies are collectively referred to as Volkswagen. The Notice of Violation alleges that Volkswagen developed and installed a defeat device in certain light duty diesel vehicles equipped with 3.0 liter engines for model years 2014 through 2016 that increases emissions of nitrogen oxide up to nine times EPA’s standard.
On November 19, Volkswagen officials informed EPA that the defeat device has existed in all of its U.S. 3.0 liter diesel models since 2009
On January 4, 2016, the Department of Justice filed a complaint on behalf of EPA against Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga Operations, LLC, Porsche AG, and Porsche Cars North America, Inc. for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act. California has initiated its own investigation.
On June 28, 2016 Volkswagen entered into a multi-billion dollar settlement to partially resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations based on the sale of approximately 500,000 model year 2009 to 2015 motor vehicles containing 2.0 liter diesel engines.
The affected 3.0 liter diesel vehicles remain under investigation.
- What Vehicles are included in the complaint?
Affected 2.0 liter diesel vehicle models and model years:
-Jetta (2009 – 2015)
-Jetta Sportwagen (2009-2014)
-Beetle (2012 – 2015)
-Beetle Convertible (2012-2015)
-Audi A3 (2010 – 2015)
-Golf (2010 – 2015)
-Golf Sportwagen (2015)
Affected 3.0 liter diesel vehicle models and model years:
-Volkswagen Touareg (2009-2016)
-Porsche Cayenne (2013-2016)
-Audi A6 Quattro (2014-2016)
-Audi A7 Quattro (2014-2016)
-Audi A8 (2014-2016)
-Audi A8L (2014-2016)
-Audi Q5 (2014-2016)
-Audi Q7 (2009-2016)
- Where can I learn more about the partial settlement regarding the 2.0 liter vehicles?
In June, 2016 Volkswagen entered into a multi-billion dollar settlement to partially resolve alleged Clean Air Act violations based on the sale of approximately 500,000 model year 2009 to 2015 motor vehicles containing 2.0 liter diesel engines. Under the settlement Volkswagen must offer every owner and lessee of an affected 2.0 liter vehicle the option of a buyback or lease termination. Additionally, Volkswagen must offer owners and lessees the option of an Emissions Modification in accordance with certain performance and design requirements.
- What should I do if I own an affected 2.0 liter Volkswagen diesel vehicle?
Owners of any of the affected 2.0 liter diesel vehicles can visit https://www.vwcourtsettlement.com/en/ now to sign up for email updates and get notifications for when options become available. The buyback and lease termination options can only begin after the Court approves the settlements, as early as this Fall. All consumers will have 2 years from the date the settlements are approved to submit their claim and receive payment.
- What should I expect if I own an affected 3.0 liter vehicle?
EPA and CARB continue to investigate the problems with the 3.0 liter diesel vehicles and explore ways to resolve the ongoing excess pollution.
- Will EPA take or confiscate my vehicle?
Absolutely not. EPA will not confiscate your vehicle or require you to stop driving. You will not be charged for any repairs made under any recall. For more detail about choices and options for owners or lessees of 2.0 liter diesel vehicles under the partial settlement visit VWCourtSettlement.com or Volkswagen Clean Air Act Partial Settlement.
- Can EPA require Volkswagen to recall these vehicles?
Yes. EPA has the authority under section 207 of the Clean Air Act to require a manufacturer to issue a recall when EPA determines that a substantial number of vehicles do not conform to EPA regulations.
- Can I turn off the defeat device?
No. The device is embedded in the software code that runs the engine control computer.
- What pollutants are being emitted?
Vehicles emit an array of pollutants. EPA standards control the allowable emission levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx), hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, particulate matter, and certain toxic chemicals. The VW defeat device affects the way the NOx control system operates, resulting in higher NOx emission levels from these vehicles than from vehicles with properly operating emission controls.
- How does NOx pollution affect people’s health?
NOx pollution contributes to atmospheric levels of nitrogen dioxide, 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 that can be serious enough to send people to the hospital. Exposure to ozone and particulate matter have 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 for health effects of these pollutants.
- How much more pollution is being emitted than should be?
NOx emission levels from the 2.0 liter vehicles are 10 – 40 times higher than emission standards. NOx emissions levels from the 3.0 liter vehicles are up to nine times higher than the emission standards.
- Is this contributing to bad air quality in my city/area?
All vehicles emit some pollution that, along with emissions from other sources, affects local air quality. Vehicles with high emission levels have a disproportionate impact. EPA emission standards are designed to protect local air quality and maintain clean and healthy air. The VW diesels with the defeat device do not comply with EPA emission standards.
- My children have asthma. Is it safe for them to ride in a Volkswagen?
Yes. The excess NOx emissions would not be expected to enter the passenger compartment, and the emissions from a single vehicle are not the primary concern. However, while individual vehicles don’t create a health threat, collectively these emissions add up to air pollution that can cause adverse health effects.
- Where can I get more information?