Recalled Volkswagen Diesel Car Fix To Involve Software Update Outside of U.S.
Volkswagen has announced a fix for recalled diesel vehicles sold outside the U.S., which contain software designed to cheat on emissions testing. However, the software update that will be refitted as part of the Volkswagen recall repairs does not address problems with vehicles sold in the United States.
In a press release issued on Tuesday, the German automaker said it will refit technical solutions for some five million vehicles sometime in October, and will inform vehicle owners of those plans in the coming weeks and months.
So far, those plans do not affect the 482,000 vehicles subjected to a Volkswagen recall in the U.S. over the diesel emissions scandal.
Volkswagen officials say they are still working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the California Air Resources Board to develop a fix that will help the VW and Audi diesel vehicles meet the more stringent standards required in this country.
On September 18, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a notice of violation of the Clean Air Act against Volkswagen and Audi, claiming that certain vehicles equipped with four-cylinder diesel engines had “defeat devices,” which involve software that detects when the vehicle was being tested for emissions. This placed the vehicles into a “clean emissions” mode to successfully pass the tests, but once the test was over, the vehicle began polluting again, at rates as high as 40 times that allowed by the EPA.
During this time, VW promoted the vehicles as “clean diesel” hybrids that were better for the environment and which got better gas mileage. However, when the accusations came to light, VW officials admitted to the problem.
The EPA says the company could face up to $18 billion in fines, and it’s CEO and a number of other key company employees have stepped down or been fired as a result.
On the same day that Volkswagen announced the partial recall repair plan, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter to the company (PDF) and the EPA, announcing that it was investigating the scandal and requesting more information.
“The scope of the alleged violations — affecting some 480,000 vehicles according to news reports — and EPA’s assertion that VW admitted it ‘designed and installed’ defeat devices in these vehicles, raise serious questions about VW’s efforts to comply with its statutory obligations under the Clean Air Act,” states the letter, signed by Energy and Commerce Chair Fred Upton, Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr., Chairman Tim Murphy of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, and that subcommittee’s ranking member, Diana DeGette.
The letter requests that the company provide a detailed list of documents by October 13, and prepare to present a briefing to committee staff by Friday.
The request and repair plans come as a growing number of consumer class action lawsuits against Volkswagen continue to pile up. The company faces at least 50 claims from vehicle owners who say the company committed fraud and gave them false and misleading information when promoting the vehicles as environmentally friendly and energy efficient.
A number of plaintiffs have requested that lawsuits filed nationwide in federal courts be consolidated for pretrial proceedings as part of a Volkswagen diesel recall MDL, or multidistrict litigation.
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