Kershaw, Cook & Talley is actively investigating a potential consumer class action lawsuit involving Volkswagen diesel engine vehicles that may have been deliberately and illegally equipped with software designed to evade emissions standards under the Clean Air Act. The Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) recently accused Volkswagen of using fuel emissions control system software to detect when the cars are undergoing state emissions testing and turn on during the testing period. However, the software is also designed to turn off during normal driving conditions, which allow the vehicle to emit as much as 40 times the pollution allowed under U.S. standards.
The EPA has issued a Notice of Violation to Volkswagen, and Volkswagen has admitted to the use of the emissions “defeat device.” Volkswagen has been directed to recall the affected vehicles, which covers nearly 500,000 diesel-powered cars in the United States. Approximately 11 million cars have the emissions “defeat device” worldwide. The emissions investigation involves Volkswagen and Audi cars that have 4-cylinder turbo diesel engines and are equipped with what are known as Type EA 189 engines, which are 2-liter engines. The vehicles and model years at issue include:
Volkswagen has halted the sales of these cars in the United States. Additional information involving the affected vehicles and the EPA’s Notice of Violation of the Clean Air Act to Volkswagen and Audi can be found at: http://www3.epa.gov/otaq/cert/violations.htm
On Monday, September 21, 2015, Michael Horn – head of Volkswagen in the United States – stated: “Let’s be clear about this, our company was dishonest with the [Environmental Protection Agency], and the California Air Resources Board, and with all of you . . . In my German words, we have totally screwed up.” At this point, it’s not clear how Volkswagen will correct the problem in the affected vehicles. The company could alter the engines so that they comply with emissions standards during operation but doing so could downgrade the vehicles’ fuel economy and performance, as well as cause premature wear to the engines.
William A. Kershaw, managing partner of Kershaw, Cook & Talley, responded to news of Volkswagen’s emissions “defeat device” by stating that: “Volkswagen has designed an emissions control system that deliberately misleads consumers and governmental regulators. It is particularly disturbing that the software at issue was installed on Volkswagen’s so-called ‘clean diesel’ models. Volkswagen’s conduct is remarkable and outrageous, and they should be held accountable.”
The attorneys at Kershaw, Cook & Talley have significant experience, and have had significant success, litigating consumer class actions on behalf of vehicle owners, including against BMW of North America, LLC and American Honda Motor Co., Inc. If you or someone you know purchased or leased one of the vehicles described above, or would like further information about this issue, please contact our office at 916-779-7000.