Skip to main content

Volkswagen admits it cheated on emissions, issues stop-sale order for 2.0-liter TDI

Volkswagen Beetle TDI
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
Volkswagen and Audi have been lambasted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for installing a so-called “defeat device” that allowed nearly half a million diesel-powered models to emit up to 40 times more nitrogen oxide than they are legally allowed to.

“These violations are very serious. We expected better from Volkswagen,” said the EPA during a conference call.

Related Videos

Working jointly with a nongovernmental organization named International Council on Clean Transportation, researchers from West Virginia University set off the scandal that’s quickly becoming known as Dieselgate when they noticed that older, diesel-powered Volkswagen models polluted a lot more in real-world situations than when they were being tested for emissions. A report published by trade journal Automotive News explains Volkswagen initially brushed off the allegations by blaming the discrepancies on “various technical issues and unexpected in-use conditions.”

Further investigation revealed that Volkswagen developed a highly advanced software algorithm that detects when a car is being tested for emissions and automatically turns on emissions control systems. The software turns off the systems when it detects that the test is over, resulting in better performances but exhaust gasses that are anywhere between 10 and 40 times dirtier than they should be.

Volkswagen boss Martin Winterkorn issued an official apology, and the Wolfsburg-based car maker’s top executives say that they are cooperating with the EPA’s investigation. The company will also launch its own external investigation into the matter.

A stop-sale order for all 2015 Volkswagen and Audi cars equipped with a 2.0-liter TDI four-cylinder engine has been issued, and the EPA has refused to certify 2016 models equipped with the TDI in question until further notice. These two actions are a huge blow to Volkswagen’s struggling U.S. arm because diesels represent approximately a fifth of its sales.

Federal law allows the EPA to fine Volkswagen up to $37,500 per vehicle in violation of the regulations, a hefty sum that, if applied, would amount to over $18 billion. The Justice Department is working with the EPA, and the company could end up facing criminal charges as well.

“This is several steps beyond the violations that we’ve seen from other auto companies. They appear to have designed a system with the intention to mislead consumers and the government. If that’s proven true, it’s remarkable and outrageous. It would merit a heck of a lot more than just a recall and a fine. We would see criminal prosecution,” said Tyson Slocum, the director of a consumer advocacy group called Public Citizen, in an interview with The New York Times.

The Obama administration has also ordered Volkswagen and Audi to recall and fix the roughly 482,000 affected cars, which includes Jettas, Beetles, Golfs, Passats, and A3s built from 2009 to 2015. Whether diesel-powered Volkswagens and Audis sold abroad are also fitted with the defeat device isn’t known at this point, but European regulators are keeping a close eye on the EPA’s investigation.

Editors' Recommendations

Volkswagen halts sales of European TDI models in the latest Dieselgate fallout

The ripples from “Dieselgate” are ever expanding, as Volkswagen has issued a stop-sale on all TDI models in Europe to complement the present halt of 2016 Volkswagen TDI sales in the U.S.

While the German automaker and emissions regulators investigate exactly which vehicles have been affected by the “cheating” software and as the company retrofits the impacted models to pass emissions tests, those looking for a diesel vehicle will have to shop elsewhere.

Read more
The truth (and the extra milage) is in the engineering of Audi’s new 2.0-liter engine
2015 Audi A4

As we all well know, beyond its renowned four-wheel drive systems and TDI engines, Audi is obsessed with efficiency. In this spirit, the German automaker has announced a new 2.0-liter TFSI four-cylinder engine that is a prime example if its Vorsprung durch Technik motto. That’s “advancement through technology,” in case your German was a little rusty.

This latest product of Audi’s famous slogan premiered at the Vienna Motor Symposium taking place today and tomorrow. What Audi says makes the new turbo four-cylinder exciting is markedly more fuel efficient than the current one, thanks to a new combustion system that Audi will be implementing for the first time.

Read more
9 longest-range plug-in hybrids: get the best of both worlds
2020 Polestar 1

All-electric cars are here and becoming increasingly available, but not everyone is ready to make the jump to an EV. After all, while EVs are cheaper to run and maintain, they also require you spend the time and effort to charge them — and on longer drives, that can be a bit of a pain. That’s exactly where plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) come in.

Plug-in hybrids offer the best of both worlds. They have an electric motor and a battery to allow you to drive without using any gas, and they have an engine and gas tank to allow you to drive using gas. The result? Often, you can get around town and to work and back without using any gasoline — only engaging the gas engine when you’re driving longer distances. That means that you don’t have to stop and charge when you don’t want to.

Read more