German automaker Volkswagen admitted to installing emissions falsifying software in 11 million diesel-fueled vehicles manufactured between 2009 and 2015. The defective product scandal prompted Volkswagen U.S. CEO Michael Horn to suspend three German software engineers responsible for installing the deceptive software.
By installing the falsifying software, Volkswagen was able to rig a vehicle’s emissions controls to only work while the vehicle was being inspected by state and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulators. Once the vehicles passed inspection, the software would shut down the emissions controls, presumably to cut costs and enhance the cars’ performance.
Volkswagen vehicles equipped with the deceptive software expelled toxic levels of nitrogen oxide into the atmosphere at levels that were more than 40 times the allowable amount as designated by the federal Clean Air Act. Nitrogen oxide erodes the ozone level, creates smog, and is responsible for causing numerous medical conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and even death.
In fact, it is estimated that as many as 94 people have died in the United States as a result of the excessive nitrogen oxide levels produced by these Volkswagen vehicles. Hundreds of deaths across Europe are likely to be attributed to these Volkswagen vehicles as well.
About 500,000 diesel-fueled Volkswagens sold in the United States are presumed to have the deceptive emissions software installed. Affected Volkswagen automobile models include:
- 2009 to 2015 models of the Jetta, Golf, and Beetle
- 2009 to 2015 models of the Audi A3
- 2014 and 2015 models of the Passat
In keeping with the theme of deception, Volkswagen marketed these diesel-powered cars as “Clean Diesel” vehicles—an environmentally friendly automobile that emits 25 percent less greenhouse gases than other vehicles. Duped consumers spent more on these “Clean Diesel” models than they would have on gasoline models.
Volkswagen plans on recalling all affected vehicles in January, 2016.
If you own a Volkswagen vehicle equipped with emissions cheating software, you may be entitled to compensation by filing a Volkswagen emissions lawsuit. The skilled product liability lawyers at Schmidt Kramer are available to help answer any questions you may have regarding the Volkswagen emissions scandal and your legal rights.