Feds: VW rigged emissions systems on Porsches, Audis too

Feds: VW rigged emissions systems on Porsches, Audis too
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is accusing German automaker Volkswagen of additional violations of federal air pollution emission standards with vehicles the company designed to cheat the system.

The agency said Monday that Volkswagen installed software on diesel models of its 2014-2016 cars that violates the Clean Air Act by activating required air pollution protections only during emissions tests, including cars marketed under its Audi and Porsche brands. 

Volkswagen was previously accused of installing the "defeat devices" on about 482,000 diesel vehicles since 2008. 

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The EPA’s assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance, Cynthia Giles, said the agency is conducting an investigation into all of Volkswagen's diesel-powered vehicles after discovering the multiple violations. 

“VW has once again failed its obligation to comply with the law that protects clean air for all Americans,” Giles said in a statement. “All companies should be playing by the same rules. EPA, with our state, and federal partners, will continue to investigate these serious matters, to secure the benefits of the Clean Air Act, ensure a level playing field for responsible businesses, and to ensure consumers get the environmental performance they expect.”

Volkswagen has admitted to programming vehicles to trick emissions testers into believing its diesel cars released a much lower volume of nitrogen oxide than they actually do. In regular driving, the vehicles emitted up to 40 times more pollution.

The head of Volkswagen's U.S. division offered a "sincere apology" to lawmakers in early October for his company's efforts to circumvent federal air pollution rules.

"On behalf of our company and my colleagues in Germany, I would like to offer a sincere apology for Volkswagen’s use of a software program that served to defeat the regular emissions testing regime," Volkswagen's CEO for North America, Michael Horn, said during an Oct. 8 hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's oversight panel.  

"These events are deeply troubling," he added. "I did not think that something like this was possible at the Volkswagen Group. We have broken the trust of our customers, dealerships and employees, as well as the public and regulators." 

The EPA said Monday the latest Volkswagen emission infractions involve the company's 2014 Touareg, 2015 Porsche Cayenne, and 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, A7 Quattro, A8, A8L, and Q5 models.

The tests of the vehicles were conducted with the California Air Resources Board, which said it was concerned about the possibility of additional infractions by Volkswagen. 

"On September 25, the California Air Resources Board sent letters to all manufacturers letting them know we would be screening vehicles for potential defeat devices,”  Richard Corey, executive officer of the California Air Resources Board, said in an EPA press release.

“Since then ARB, EPA and Environment Canada have continued test programs on additional diesel-powered passenger cars and SUVs," Corey continued. "These tests have raised serious concerns about the presence of defeat devices on additional VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles. Today we are requiring VW Group to address these issues. This is a very serious public health matter. ARB and EPA will continue to conduct a rigorous investigation that includes testing more vehicles until all of the facts are out in the open."