EPA, California regulators reject Volkswagen diesel recall plan over failure to address emissions problems

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by Charles Miller

The Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board (CARB) have rejected a Volkswagen recall proposal for 2-liter diesel-powered VW and Audi models sold between 2009 and 2015. In a press release, CARB stated that Volkswagen would need to address key underlying emissions issues with the 2009-2015 models before the agency would approve a plan by the company to recall the “TDI Clean Diesel” models involved in the emissions cheating scandal.

In September 2015, Volkswagen admitted that it had installed a software “defeat device” on 11 million diesel-powered vehicles that was designed to fool emissions testing programs into thinking that the cars emitted lower levels of pollution than they actually did. Volkswagen stated at the time that it would recall about 600,000 VW and Audi diesel models sold in the U.S. However, before the recall can proceed, the company must receive approval from the EPA and other environmental regulators to ensure that the company has a plan in place to fix the emissions problems with the recalled models.

The CARB press release concerning VW’s proposed recall stated that the plan submitted to the agency contained gaps and lacked important details on how the recalled vehicles would be repaired by the company. The agency stated that the repairs proposed by VW lacked enough information for the CARB to make a technical evaluation of the plan and fail to comprehensively address problems with the performance, emissions, and safety of the TDI models.

CARB also hit Volkswagen with a notice of violation that listed 13 violations made by the company during the emissions scandal. These violations include a failure to comply with California emission standards or test procedures; invalid certification applications by VW; the use of “defeat devices” to evade emissions testing standards; the importation, delivery, purchase, acquisition, or receipt of uncertified vehicles; the sale of vehicles that do not meet California emission standards; and failure to comply with state onboard diagnostic (OBD) system requirements.

Experts say that Volkswagen may have mistakenly believed that it would be able to submit a low-cost plan that would allow the company to inexpensively resolve the emissions issues regarding its VW and Audi TDI models. CARB’s rejection of Volkswagen’s recall proposal is a sign that regulators will not allow the company to find an easy way out of the ”Dieselgate” scandal unless the plan submitted fully resolves the underlying emissions issues with the recalled vehicles.

“Volkswagen made a decision to cheat on emissions tests and then tried to cover it up,” said Mary D. Nichols, the CARB chair. “They continued and compounded the lie and when they were caught they tried to deny it. The result is thousands of tons of nitrogen oxide that have harmed the health of Californians. They need to make it right. Today’s action is a step in the direction of assuring that will happen.”

Volkswagen CEO Matthias Mueller is scheduled to meet with CARB officials this week for further discussions about the company’s proposed recall. Mueller was named CEO of the German automaker following the resignation of former CEO Martin Winterkorn in September after news of the emissions cheating scandal became public.

Lawsuits Against Volkswagen Filed Over Dieselgate Emissions Cheating Scandal

Owners of one of the Volkswagen or Audi “TDI Clean Diesel” models that were recalled by VW may be eligible to join the numerous lawsuits that have already been filed against the German automakers. As Volkswagen’s admissions in the Dieselgate scandal have made clear, the company knew for years that it was selling vehicles that failed to meet U.S. emissions standards and fraudulently lied to its customers by touting the eco-friendly technology of these vehicles.

The vehicles included in the Volkswagen diesel recall include the 2009-2015 Audi A3 TDI, the 2016 Audi A6 Quattro, the 2016 Audi A7 Quattro, the 2016 Audi A8, the 2016 Audi A8L, the 2016 Audi Q5, the 2015 Porsche Cayenne, the 2009-2015 Volkswagen Beetle TDI, the 2009-2015 Volkswagen Golf TDI, the 2009-2015 Volkswagen Jetta TDI, the 2012-2015 Volkswagen Passat TDI, and the 2014 Volkswagen Touareg. Further investigation into the Volkswagen scandal may reveal that additional VW or Audi models are also affected by the diesel engine emissions issue.

Numerous commercial fraud lawsuits and class action litigation claims have already been filed against Volkswagen by VW and Audi owners who purchased or leased one of the recalled automobiles. Legal experts predict that the German automaker could face billions in legal liability and EPA fines as a result of its fraudulent claims regarding the performance and emissions of the recalled TDI vehicles. Consumers who purchased or leased one of the Volkswagen or Audi “clean diesel” vehicles involved in the emissions scandal may be eligible to file a lawsuit and receive compensation for their vehicle.

If you purchased or leased one of the VW, Audi, or Porsche diesel-powered vehicles involved in the Dieselgate recall, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson to learn more about whether you qualify to file a lawsuit. For a free legal consultation about your case, please contact us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few simple questions to get started.