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From Products Liability Law Daily, November 4, 2015

Volkswagen investigation uncovers irregularities in CO2 levels in 800,000 vehicles; U.S. sales halted

By Pamela C. Maloney, J.D.

During the course of its investigation into so-called “defeat devices” that were installed in four-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars for model years 2009-2015, Volkswagen discovered that an estimated 800,000 vehicles are affected by irregularities in CO2 levels. According to the company, these irregularities were found when determining the type approval CO2 levels. As a result, the CO2 levels and thus the fuel consumption figures for these models were set too low during the certification process. Volkswagen reassured vehicle owners that these irregularities in no way compromise the safety of the vehicles. An initial estimate puts the economic risks for the company at approximately two billion euros (Volkswagen Press Release, November 3, 2015).

In response to this announcement, Matthias Müller, CEO of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, said “The Board of Management of Volkswagen AG deeply regrets this situation and wishes to underscore its determination to systematically continue along the present path of clarification and transparency.” To that end, Volkswagen promised that it would work in cooperation with the responsible authorities, to do everything in its power to clarify the further course of action as quickly as possible and ensure the correct CO2 classification for the vehicles affected.

In September, the EPA charged that software in these vehicles circumvented EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants [see Products Liability Law Daily’s September 18, 2015 analysis]. On September 29, 2015, Volkswagen announced a two-step remediation plan to correct the emissions characteristics of its diesel vehicles. Full details, however, were not made available at that time. The company had promised to present the full plan to responsible authorities in October. The discovery of the irregularities in the type approval of CO2 levels was a result of the company’s ongoing review of all processes and workflows in connection with its diesel engines.

EPA issued a second notice of violation to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., after finding a another defeat device had been installed on the 2015 Porsche Cayenne, 2014 VW Touareg, 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L, and Q5 models powered by the VW Group’s 3.0-liter diesel engine, which was developed by Audi [see Products Liability Law Dailys November 2, 2015 analysis]. Following this second notice, VW, Porsche, and Audi put a hold on all diesel sales in the United States (Audi Press Release, November 2015).

Companies: Volkswagen AG; Audi AG; Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.; Porsche AG

MainStory: TopStory MotorVehiclesNews

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