The news just keeps getting worse for Volkswagen. The company may have to recall up to 500,000 diesel cars in the U.S. and 11 million worldwide due to “defeat devices” in models 2009 to 2015 Golf, Passat, Beetle and Jetta. The engines are also in some Audi A3 vehicles. The devices enabled the cars to pass emission tests while, in normal operation, spewing 40 times more than the legal amount of pollution-causing nitrogen oxide (NOx).
The company is now embroiled in a scandal after it was revealed that VW deliberately turned off the filter designed to trap NOx from the exhaust. But the recall has also raised the question: Was it so difficult to make diesel cars run with low emissions that the company had to resort to scamming millions of customers?
VW prioritized power and fuel economy over meeting the state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s emissions standards. In light of recent revelations, it looks like VW made the wrong bet, and the legal penalties and costs will be severe.
VW invested millions to develop a NOx trap. The trap soaks up nitrous oxide and nitrogen dioxide like a sponge. Once the trap is full, the system can inject a dose of fuel before releasing exhaust substances. It’s likely that cars of the future will include diesel technology that combines clean-emission techniques, power and fuel economy. Clearly, the problem of clean diesel engines is extremely challenging. It’s not easy to do, but that doesn’t mean that you cheat.
Consumers are angry and asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Volkswagen for alleged deceptive advertising and are hoping the federal agency can intervene and force VW to either buy back their compromised cars or negotiate trade-ins on favorable terms. The EPA and state emissions boards are putting pressure on the company to find a solution that minimizes the pollutant emissions, or face the very real possibility that thousands of consumers will no longer be able to register late-model cars because they will fail emissions test.
For green-friendly drivers, it wasn’t only about the money. It was also about the betrayal. Angry consumers have already begin filing lawsuits in state courts accusing the company of fraud and deception. With some legal experts estimating that the scandal could ultimately cost the German auto-maker over $86 Billion, the amount left over to pay consumers may pale compared to the fines and penalties paid to govermental organizations. If you own an affected Volkswagen diesel vehicle, you should move quickly to determine what rights you have for compensation.