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California Calls Out VW For Even More Violations

The EPA is putting VW on notice again for even more violations, this time specifically for vehicles using 3.0 liter diesel engines. After the initial confirmation of issues with VW Group diesel vehicles using its 2.0 liter diesel engines from 2008-14 back on September 18th, the California Air Resources Board sent out a notice on September 25th to all manufacturers informing them that additional testing would be performed. The EPA has redefined its emissions test methods specifically to look for any emissions defeat devices and it was this change that helped them find the additional VW violations in the second round of testing.

The results are in and it’s not looking good for the VW Group as the EPA sent out a Notice of Violation (NOV) for issues with VW, Audi and Porsche diesel vehicles using said 3.0 liter diesel engine in model years 2014-2016 for basically the same workaround:

“The NOV alleges that VW developed and installed a defeat device in certain VW, Audi and Porsche light duty diesel vehicles equipped with 3.0 liter engines for model years (MY) 2014 through 2016 that increases emissions of nitrogen oxide (NOx) up to nine times EPA’s standard.”

The recent announcement includes some juicy details about the actual emissions defeat protocol the cars use to stay within limits while being tested.  Reading through it leaves me feeling gross and not because of the extra soot in the air…it just feels like such a slimy way to operate:

“When the vehicle senses that it is undergoing a federal emissions test procedure, it operates in a low NOx “temperature conditioning” mode. Under that mode, the vehicle meets emission standards. At exactly one second after the completion of the initial phases of the standard test procedure, the vehicle immediately changes a number of operating parameters that increase NOx emissions and indicates in the software that it is transitioning to “normal mode,” where emissions of NOx increase up to nine times the EPA standard, depending on the vehicle and type of driving conditions. In other tests where the vehicle does not experience driving conditions similar to the start of the federal test procedure, the emissions are higher from the start, consistent with “normal mode.”

2016_passat_5470. Image courtesy: VW

Image courtesy: VW

VW has been in the news a lot of late and in this case, it is not thinking that “any news is good news” as this is another huge hit against the brand and unfortunate for all of us. Diesel emissions are known for their high concentration of Particulate Matter (PM) and has been linked to higher cancer rates. A recent California study showed a correlation between decreases in diesel emissions and lower cancer rates which makes this second batch of VW violations that much worse. The EPA news release provides more detail about the harmful health effects of diesel exhaust:

“NOx pollution contributes to harmful 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. Exposure to ozone and particulate matter has 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 of health effects from exposure to these pollutants.”

With the initial announcement in September, the possible fines in the US alone were staggering and this announcement just ups the ante.  VW will have an opportunity to respond to these new allegations and in addition to a likely mandate to fix the excess emissions in their vehicles out on the road, may be liable for civil charges.

The full list of VW vehicles now affected is as follows (from the EPA):

Affected 2.0 liter diesel models include:

  • Jetta (MY 2009 – 2015)
  • Jetta Sportwagen (MY 2009-2014)
  • Beetle (MY 2012 – 2015)
  • Beetle Convertible (MY 2012-2015)
  • Audi A3 (MY 2010 – 2015)
  • Golf (MY 2010 – 2015)
  • Golf Sportwagen (MY 2015)
  • Passat (MY 2012-2015)

Affected 3.0 liter diesel models include:

  • Volkswagen Touareg (MY 2014)
  • Porsche Cayenne (MY 2015)
  • Audi A6 Quattro (MY 2016)
  • Audi A7 Quattro (MY 2016)
  • Audi A8 (MY 2016)
  • Audi Q5 (MY 2016)

More information on EPA’s NOV and EPA’s VW investigation: http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/cert/violations.htm|

More information on CARB’s In-Use Compliance Letter: http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/vw_info/vw_diesel_info.htm

 
 
 
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Written By

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

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