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Volkswagen Diesel Emissions Problem Known For Years: Report

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As a growing number of consumer lawsuits over the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal continue to be filed, new reports suggest that the German auto maker’s top officials have been aware since 2009 that software was installed on millions of vehicles for purposes of defeating EPA emissions tests. 

Reports from two German newspapers revealed on Sunday that Volkswagen’s own staff members, along with one of its suppliers, warned the automakers owner’s years ago that the use of the defeat devices to alter emissions readings was illegal.

Volkswagen is currently being investigated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) after the automaker admitted to using software to cheat emissions tests within a Notice of Violation (NOV) of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen AG, Audi AG, and Volkswagen Group of America Inc., indicating that certain four-cylinder diesel cars from model year 2009 to 2015 were equipped with “defeat devices”, which are software designed to circumvent EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants.

The Volkswagen diesel emissions problems have put increasing pressure on the automaker to make changes and prompted several suspensions and firings including the CEO, Martin Winterkorn, who has since been replaced with Matthias Mueller, a former boss of Porsche sports-cars. However, some critics have questioned whether Mueller is the right choice, since his career is rooted within the VW system.

Winterkorn resigned just days after he announced his apology to the public for breaking their trust. Since Winterkorn’s resignation, Volkswagen has suspended their VW brand development chief Heinz-Jakob Neusser, Audi’s technical development manager Ulrich Hackenberg, and Porches’ head of group engine and transmission development, Wolfgang Hatz.

No plan have yet been announced for fixing the nearly 11 million vehicles equipped with defeat devices, although the EPA forced a recall of nearly 500,000 Volkswagen and Audi diesel-powered vehicles affected by the emissions problem that were sold in the United States. In addition, Switzerland and Italian, and some independent car brokers in Poland, have publicly announced they will discontinue the sale of the vehicles.

Volkswagen has suspended sales of the affected vehicles.

Volkswagen Lawsuits Piling Up

There have been dozens of individual and class action Volkswagen lawsuits filed across the nation and in Canada, India and Norway claiming that vehicle owners were cheated out of the low emissions vehicle they were advertised and as a result the vehicles are now worth less money on trade-ins.

On Friday, the latest in a series of lawsuits was filed in Sacramento, California, seeking class action status on behalf of the anticipated 77,000 people who purchased or leased the Volkswagen vehicles with diesel engines designed to defeat the emissions testing.

The complaints allege that although the “clean diesel” vehicles were advertised to be a “no compromise” alternative to regular gas engines, the values have dropped significantly due to the scandal. The complaint claims that Volkswagen intentionally deceived its customers for unjust monetary gains, among many other violations, and is seeking unspecified damages.

Additional lawsuits stemming from California were filed on Friday out of San Francisco by a pair of Stanford University teachers, who own a 2013 Passat and a 2010 Audi, both who claim the resale values of their vehicles have been drastically impacted.

Dozens of lawsuits against the manufacturer alleging fraud, breach of warranty, unjust enrichment, and negligent misrepresentations have been filed across the U.S. in the past week out of Iowa, Missouri, Tennessee, Maine, Oregon, Wisconsin, Florida, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, Kentucky, Georgia, Texas, and, Washington, and Massachusetts.

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Image via Vytautas Kielaitis / Shutterstock.com

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