Are you driving a Volkswagen vehicle affected by the growing controversy over the German carmaker’s cheating on U.S. emissions tests? Approximately 500,000 Volkswagen/Audi diesel vehicles are on U.S. roads with software installed by Volkswagen that the Environmental Protection Agency says allows for the emission of as much as 40 times more than the legal amount of pollutants.
The car maker was ordered to recall the vehicles and bring them into compliance with emissions rules. But drivers of these vehicles should continue using them as normal, the EPA said, as authorities and the carmaker work out the details and inform the registered owners. The affected cars span model years 2009 through 2015.
Following Friday’s news of Volkswagen’s cheating, Consumer Reports immediately stopped recommending the cars until it has an opportunity to test them again after VW corrects the problem. Volkswagen announced Tuesday that 11 million of its diesel cars worldwide were equipped with the emissions-cheating software. The carmaker did not provide information on where the affected cars are, but the overwhelming majority are probably in Europe.
But nobody seems to know how VW will get owners to comply with a recall, especially since many vehicle owners ignore recall notices on even more serious safety issues. Dangerous air pollution is a very serious matter, but it does not pose an immediately safety issue for drivers of the diesel vehicles.
“It might put to test the government’s will to forcefully recall cars,” Brian Moody, executive editor for AutoTrader.com, told CNN.
However, this recall may be different than most others. Some states could require proof from the vehicle owners that the problem has been fixed before allowing cars to be registered or renewed.
The EPA alleges that four-cylinder Volkswagen and Audi diesel cars from model years 2009-2015 include software that circumvents EPA emissions standards for certain air pollutants.
California is separately issuing an “In-Use Compliance letter” to Volkswagen. The EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) have both initiated investigations based on Volkswagen’s alleged actions.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal are reporting that the U.S. Department of Justice is considering bringing criminal charges against VW.