Volkswagen Polo Facelift 14

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has lobbied for a recall of roughly 482,000 Volkswagen and Audi cars in the country after it was discovered that the carmaker had installed illegal “defeat devices” in its diesel-powered cars to help it comply with emissions tests, Automotive News reports.

Vehicles include model year 2009-2015 Volkswagen Beetle, Golf, Jetta, Passat as well as Audi A3 units – all models were equipped with a turbocharged 2.0 litre four-cylinder diesel engine. As a result, the brand could be penalised by as much as US$37,500 per vehicle. When totalled, the figure adds up to around US$18 billion.

Said illegal software is capable of detecting when the car is being put through emissions tests – during which full emissions controls are activated. In real-world conditions, away from testing facilities, the cars are said to emit “up to 40 times” the permitted levels of nitrous oxides. The pollutants emitted are understood to be linked to illnesses such as asthma attacks and other respiratory diseases.

Aside from the obvious reason for the use of said illegal software, it is also known that when the emission control systems are activated, “there’s a trade-off between performance and emissions,” commented executive director of the International Council on Clean Transportation, Drew Kodjak. Shutting off the pollution controls system is understood to improve the performance of diesel-powered vehicles.

The issue was brought into the spotlight after Kodjak’s group noticed a discrepancy between the figures quoted by Volkswagen during emissions testing and recorded real-world numbers. The team was in the midst of researching diesel vehicles when the discovery was made – the issue was then highlighted to the EPA.


“These violations are very serious, not only because illegal defeat devices results in excess emissions many times the allowable standard, but also because Volkswagen was concealing the facts from EPA, the state of California and consumers,” said the EPA’s assistant administrator, Cynthia Giles.

As a result of the incident, The Detroit News has reported that Volkswagen has been banned from selling its diesel-powerered cars with the same engine from the year 2016 onwards. In a statement issued by Volkswagen CEO, Martin Winterkorn, it was stated that “cooperate fully with the responsible agencies, with transparency and urgency, to clearly, openly, and completely establish all of the facts of this case.”

“I personally am deeply sorry that we have broken the trust of our customers and the public. The trust of our customers and the public is and continues to be our most important asset,” he added. The German carmaker has also confirmed that it has called for an external probe of the matter.

As mentioned earlier, no recall has been made just yet but the EPA has stated that it will “hold Volkswagen responsible” for taking the necessary steps to rectify the situation. Additionally, the EPA has also announced that it was prepared to withhold certifications required for Volkswagen’s cars to go on sale.