Volkswagen has been accused by US regulators of disguising C02 emissions with a clever software device that is designed to disguise pollution levels. Volkswagen and Audi have sold over 500,000 cars over a period that covers 2009-2015.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) flexed it’s muscles and ordered the recall because it was in serious breach of the US Clean Air Act.
The so called defeat device is designed to lower pollution levels on the cars and is activated when undergoing emission testing and then switches off when testing has ended.
The recall affects Passats, Beetles, Jettas, Golfs and the Audi A3. The EPA has the judicial authority to issue fines which could total upto £11.5bn dollars.
If the EPA where to issue such a fine then VW may well use a plea bargain deal in which it admits to the violation in return for a reduced fine being levied against it.
Meanwhile VW has launched an internal probe but many analysts see this as the company going through the motions in order to prove its innocence.
Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance said “Using a defeat device in cars to evade clean air standards is illegal and a threat to public health,”
California, which has some of the toughest emissions laws in the US, was involved in the investigation and has also issued a notice of violation against VW.
Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn released a statement saying, “I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public,” Winterkorn said in a statement. “Volkswagen has ordered an external investigation of this matter. We will do everything necessary in order to reverse the damage this has caused.”
Meanwhile news of a potentially large fine has seen VW’s share price plunge on the stock markets.