Update: Volkswagen Emissions Have Already Killed 60 People, Study Finds
November 1 – By the end of next year, VW’s diesel vehicles that were equipped with “defeat devices” to cheat on emissions tests will have pumped out enough toxic pollution to contribute to the early deaths of at least 60 people in the U.S. alone, MIT and Harvard researchers determined in a new study published in Environmental Research Letters. The study’s authors estimated that from 2008 to 2015, the 482,000 rigged diesels Volkswagen sold in the U.S. pumped out an extra 36.7 million kg of NOx emissions, as much as 40x more than permitted by the Clean Air Act.
What’s the Problem?
Volkswagen has been accused of cheating on air pollution tests by installing software called “defeat devices” in electronic control modules of diesel vehicles sold from 2008-2015. According to the New York Times, the software was able to sense when official emissions testing was in progress and go into a “test mode” that allowed emissions controls to run full-tilt, but then emitted 10 to 40x the legal limit while on the road.
The EPA made the allegations (PDF) on Sept. 18, after independent researchers questioned the vehicles’ emissions levels, prompting government agencies to investigate the matter. Once officials confronted Volkswagen about the problem, the company “admitted” their cars contained the defeat devices, according to CNBC.
Which Models are Affected?
- 2009-2015 Volkswagen Jetta & Jetta Sportswagen
- 2010-2015 Volkswagen Golf & Golf Sportswagen
- 2010-2015 Audi A3
- 2012-2015 Volkswagen Beetle & Beetle Convertible
- 2012-2015 Volkswagen Passat
Scandal Puts Carmaker’s Future in Jeopardy
According to the EPA, Volkswagen could face fines of $37,500 per vehicle, and with around 482,000 affected vehicles sold in the U.S. since 2008, this could mean fines of up to $18 billion. However, huge fines may be just one of many penalties Volkswagen faces over its emissions cheating scandal, according to MarketWatch. One study titled “The Cost to Firms of Cooking the Books” found that for the average company involved in fraud, the financial punishment imposed by the market was 7.5x greater than its legal penalties.
VW Sets Aside $7.3 Billion to Pay for Emissions Fraud: NBC News Video
Volkswagen CEO Resigns
On September 23, VW Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn bowed to pressure and stepped down in response to the emissions scandal, according to the Wall Street Journal. In a statement following a meeting of the company’s shareholders and labor representatives, Winterkorn vowed to take responsibility for the “irregularities” that were discovered in the company’s vehicles.
“I am shocked by the events of the past few days,” he said. “Above all, I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group.”
Automaker’s Stock Tanks Amid Emissions Controversy
Volkswagen has seen its stock price plummet about 30% since the EPA launched allegations against it, according to Fortune. The company’s shares have fallen from around $160 before the announcement to around $110, as of September 23. Other factors influencing the stock’s decline include the announcement of a class action lawsuit, news of VW’s CEO resigning, and more.
VW to Slash Costs, Possibly Jobs to Pay for ‘Dieselgate’
New Volkswagen chief Matthias Müller announced that the company is preparing to cut costs and scale back investments to pay for the diesel emissions cheating scandal, according to the Financial Times. Müller said the automaker would do everything it could to ensure job security for its employees; however, he provided no guarantee that all employees would keep their jobs. Click here to learn more.
Can Volkswagen Recover?
VW shares have plunged nearly 30% since news broke that the company cheated emissions tests on its diesel vehicles, and more than 50% since a 52-week high in March, according to CNNMoney. The departure of CEO Martin Winterkorn has helped the automaker rebound slightly in the short-term; however, the company’s troubles are far from over. Click here to learn more.
VW Faces Billions in Fines; Lawsuits Piling Up
Since the EPA blew the whistle on Volkswagen on September 18, nearly 100 class action lawsuits have been filed against the automaker. Most of the complaints have been filed by car owners who argue the value of their vehicles has been hurt by VW’s deception; however, another suit has been filed on behalf of U.S. shareholders after the company’s stock plunged more than 30%. Click here to learn more.
Automaker to Refit Software on 11 Million Vehicles
Volkswagen has agreed to fix up to 11 million diesel cars with defeat device software, according to Reuters. However, the company has specified exactly how it will accomplish this. The technology blog Engadget speculated that the fix will likely be software-related, since the cheat devices were programmed to run clean only during emissions testing. Whatever it is, regulators are sure to scrutinize VW’s solution to make sure it’s actually solving the problem. Click here to learn more.
VW Emissions Fraud Class Action Filed in California
October 5 – A Redondo Beach woman who purchased a 2015 Volkswagen Passat TDI a day before news broke of the emissions cheating scandal has filed a class action lawsuit against the automaker, according to the Long Beach Press Telegram. The complaint alleges that VW defrauded customers who not only paid extra for their diesel cars, but who also will likely see declines in the resale value of the vehicles. Click here to learn more.
Indiana Man Files Class Action Against Volkswagen Over Emissions Scandal
A Carmel, Indiana man has filed a lawsuit against VW after learning that the 2011 Jetta TDI he purchased was equipped with defeat device software. Plaintiff Tom Richards said he bought the vehicle on the basis of two fraudulent assumptions: that it got good gas mileage and was environmentally friendly.
“I feel somewhat betrayed because I’ve learned this wasn’t just a happenstance. This was planned,” Richards said. “This was purposely planned in order to sell cars without going through the process of helping the environment.” Click here to learn more.
VW to Recall Chinese Diesels
October 12 – Volkswagen has announced plans to recall nearly 2,000 cars in China, marking the beginning of its efforts to remove defeat device software on more than 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide. According to Sky News, the Chinese recall affects 1,946 imported Volkswagen Tiguan SUVs and 4 Passat B6 sedans. Click here to learn more.
Our attorneys are filing a class action lawsuit alleging that Volkswagen defrauded consumers when it installed defeat device software in its “clean diesel” vehicles. If you own or lease one of the vehicles listed above, you may be entitled to compensation.
The lawsuit alleges that Volkswagen violated U.S. federal law, common law and California’s consumer protection statutes, as well as breached applicable warranties. The complaint seeks actual and punitive damages, a refund or repair of affected vehicles, and requests that the court order Volkswagen to stop its deceptive conduct.