VW Emissions Scandal

January 20th, 2016 by Attorney Julie Butcher

In what may be one of the biggest scandals in automotive history, the German auto maker Volkswagen (VW) has admitted that many of its diesel-powered vehicles in the United States were designed and built to avoid pollution control rules. This was not a one-time mistake but the result of many decisions made at high levels of the company over the past ten years, according to the New York Times.

The company’s chairman announced on December 10 that the decisions to cheat on emissions tests were made more than a decade ago after company officials realized they couldn’t meet U.S. clean air standards legally while selling profitable autos. Hans-Dieter Pötsch, head of the company’s supervisory board, said the decisions to cheat happened when there were lax ethical standards at the company. He said how the company handles the crisis will be “the biggest test” in its history.

Pötsch and Matthias Müller, VW’s chief executive, presented the results of an internal inquiry that is still underway. Though the company isn’t naming names, it appears the decisions were made to help make the company reach its goal to be the world’s largest automaker. To do that it had to sell more vehicles in the U.S., though the defective cars were also sold in many other countries.

VW’s computerized engine controls were programmed so that it could determine when emissions were being tested. The engine would run so that those tests were passed, but once the tests were over, actual pollution could be forty times higher than legal levels. Diesel powered VW, Audi and Porsche models are involved.

VW is facing not only possible recalls by the federal government but also consumer lawsuits claiming fraud. Plaintiffs allege they bought autos that were not the “clean” diesel cars that were advertised and their actual value is $1,000 to $7,000 less than what they should be. Reuters reports that more than 350 lawsuits have been filed against VW in forty states not only by car owners claiming their cars’ prices were inflated by false advertising but also by stockholders claiming the stock price was inflated by the sales of these defective cars.

There are many recalls of VW vehicles beyond the defective emissions controls, and they include brakes and cooling systems. You can use this National Highway Traffic Safety Administration webpage to see if your VW, or any other car, has been recalled, had complaints filed about it or there are investigations into the car.

If you have been involved in a motor vehicle accident of any type and it is not your fault, you should know your rights and seek legal protection. We can help. Call Julie Butcher, the Lexington, KY Vehicle Accident Lawyer at 859-233-3641 or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation.