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A massive scandal has rocked the automaker Volkswagen that could affect hundreds of thousands of diesel-powered vehicle owners in the U.S.
On Sept. 20, The New York Times reported that VW rigged certain models of diesel vehicles in a way that would help them pass emissions tests. Not only has the company immediately halted sales of 4-cylinder, turbo-powered VW and Audi diesel cars, it will also recall nearly 500,000 cars manufactured from 2009 to 2015.
The controversy surrounds an allegation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that Volkswagen installed software in some diesel models that allow them to “cheat” emissions tests. These tests are required in most states. In a nutshell, the Times reported that the EPA alleges the software engages the car’s emissions control system during a test, and then disengages it after the test is done. As a result, the car will perform better through improved acceleration and torque. However, during normal operation, the newspaper reported the vehicles can emit up to 40 times the amount of pollution the EPA allows under its Clean Air Act.
Volkswagen is not only looking at potentially billions of dollars in fines from the EPA as a result of this scandal, it may also face several class-action suits filed by consumers who feel they were duped by the company. People who purchased these diesel-powered vehicles thinking they were helping the environment may feel inclined to take legal action.
The vehicles affected include the Audi A3 as well as Volkswagen’s Beetle, Golf, Jetta models built between 2009 and 2015 and Passat models built between 2014 and 2015.