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From Products Liability Law Daily, September 22, 2015

Volkswagen responds to emissions testing inquiries; congressional subcommittee to investigate

By John Dumoulin

Volkswagen AG said it “is working at full speed to clarify irregularities” regarding a particular engine management software used in diesel engines in some of its vehicles, according to a company press release (Volkswagen Press Release, September 22, 2015). The software detects when a car is undergoing official emissions testing and turns full emissions controls on only during the test, according to an Environmental Protection Agency release issued last week, which allows the vehicle to meet emissions standards in the laboratory or testing station, but the vehicle produces emissions levels that violate the standards during normal operation.

Clean Air Act violations. The EPA issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (collectively, “Volkswagen”), over use of the software. California also issued an In-Use Compliance letter to Volkswagen, and the EPA and the California Air Resources Board have initiated investigations. According to the EPA’s release, the software was installed in four-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars from model years 2009-2015 [see Products Liability Law Dailys September 18, 2015 analysis].

Volkswagen’s response. In its release, Volkswagen said that it does not tolerate any kind of violation of laws and that it is a top priority of the company “to win back lost trust and to avert damage to our customers.” Volkswagen said that new vehicles from the Volkswagen Group with EU 6 diesel engines that are currently available in the European Union comply with legal requirements and environmental standards, and that discrepancies between test results and road use occur in vehicles with Type EA 189 engines, which are installed in approximately 11 million vehicles worldwide.

Volkswagen said that it “is working intensely to eliminate these deviations through technical measures.” According to the release, the company plans to set aside approximately 6.5 billion EUR to cover necessary service measures and other efforts to win back the trust of its customers. Volkswagen said it will keep the public informed on the progress of the investigations “constantly and transparently.”

Congressional investigation. The Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing in the coming weeks on the issues with Volkswagen diesel engines, according to an Energy and Commerce Committee press release. The hearing was announced by Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich) and Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-Pa).

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

MainStory: TopStory MotorVehiclesNews

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