Recall Start Date for VW Diesel Emissions "Defeat" Device Fix Announced
Three weeks ago, Volkswagen AG admitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it installed diesel-emission “defeat” software that falsified emissions standard results on certain diesel-powered cars over a period of about six years. Just this week, VW officials in Germany announced that recalls to fix the diesel-powered cars so they conform to European and U.S. EPA standards will begin in January 2016.
In the United States, up to 482,000 Volkswagen Beetle, Golf, Jetta, Passat and Audi A3 cars from 2009-2015, powered by 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder turbodiesel (TDI) engines, are to be recalled and fixed to comply with EPA emissions standards. These cars are still safe to drive, according to VW, but currently emit nitrogen oxides, or NOx, up to 40 times higher than the limit defined by the Clean Air Act as a threshold for being harmful to the general public’s health. NOx forms dirty air that makes it hard to see and breathe.
Worldwide, the fix will affect up to 11 million VW diesel-powered cars. Since news broke about the emissions-falsification device, Volkswagen Group, one of the largest global automakers, lost more than one-third of its stock share price. Meanwhile, probes continue in the U.S. and in California, as well as overseas in Europe—including in Germany, France, the U.K. and in Asia, including South Korea and Japan.
More news highlights are summarized about the emissions probe from NPR, Reuters, the Financial Times, and Automotive News:
- VW’s top North American official, Michael Horn, told members of U.S. Congress yesterday that the automaker has withdrawn its application to certify 2016 model-year vehicles as being compliant. Remarks from testimony are available on Volkswagen’s consumer website: http://www.vwdieselinfo.com/.
- U.S. lawmakers suggested during the hearing that the only real solution is for VW to buy back all of the cars subject to recall for their original price.
- At the same time, in Germany, prosecutors seized documents and records at VW’s Wolfsburg headquarters as part of their investigation of the company’s decision to use illegal software in diesel-powered vehicles.
- VW is under pressure to identify people at the company responsible for the decision to use the “defeat” device software, in addition to coming up with solutions to fix the illegal software in the European market.
- Yesterday (Oct. 7), Volkswagen submitted a plan to Germany’s watchdog KBA group to make its diesel vehicles comply with emissions laws. In Germany alone, VW has to fix 2.8 million vehicles.
- VW recently suspended marketing and advertising messages for a two-week period in the U.S. and abroad, according to Ad Age.
- On Wednesday, U.S. Senate Finance Committee members investigated Volkswagen's actions related to federal tax credits designed to reward consumers for buying environmentally friendly vehicles, Reuters reports.
- Volkswagen of America is offering $2,000 customer loyalty incentives in October to stop owners from defecting to another brand. Current VW owners will receive $2,000 toward the purchase or lease of any new VW gasoline or hybrid model, according to the brand’s website.
- A comprehensive investigation and tougher emissions tests will be put in place to detect potential defeat devices including lab audits, dynamometer, and on-road and real-world driving tests, according to Christopher Grundler, director, Office of Transportation and Air Quality in a post on the EPA website.
- Some 28 diesel car models from BMW, Chrysler, General Motors, Land Rover, and Mercedes-Benz are under EPA scrutiny to make sure they haven’t engaged in similar cheating.
- In Europe, where diesel-powered vehicles account for 53.1% of the new- car population*, EU NOx limits will be raised by up to 70% for real-world testing, according to GreenCarReports.
- On the sales front, VW deliveries in the U.S. market were little-impacted during September. Only 25% of VW vehicles sold in the U.S. during the month were powered by TDI diesel engines. The VW Group’s year-to-date share is 3.5% vs. 3.6% a year ago, according to data collected by J.D. Power and auto forecasting partner LMC Automotive. That includes VW, Audi and Porsche brand sales.
- VW’s image may suffer because it promoted clean diesel in its advertising and has been known for German engineering. However, several VW models ranked among the top three in their respective segment in J.D. Power’s key 2015 automotive studies, including the 2015 Volkswagen Eos in the Initial Quality Study (IQS); 2015 Volkswagen Golf, Beetle, and Tiguan in the Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study; and the 2012 Volkswagen Eos in the Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS).
*Diesel new passenger-car registrations in Western Europe were 53.1% in 2014, down from 53.3% in 2013, according to the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).