VW Diesel Emissions Cheating Scandal Heading to Congress

EPA prepares for “likely” recall.

by on Oct.02, 2015

The EPA has yet to order a formal recall of VW diesels, like this one, but that could happen soon.

Two weeks after revealing that Volkswagen had cheated on diesel emissions tests, officials from the Environmental Protection Agency still have not formally ordered a recall of 482,000 VW products, but that step is “likely” to take place, according to an EPA spokesperson.

Sources inside Volkswagen, meanwhile, told TheDetroitBureau.com that the automaker is now working with the federal agency to come up with an acceptable fix for diesel models that can produce as much as 40 times the allow level of pollutants such as smog-causing NOx. VW has already said it is developing a retrofit for a total of 11 million diesel vehicles sold worldwide that contained a secret “defeat device” designed to reduce emissions levels during testing.

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VW’s problems have continued to escalate in recent days, and even as prosecutors in both the U.S. and Germany look into the scandal, the automaker’s top U.S. executive has been summoned to Capitol Hill where he will testify before a congressional oversight panel on October 8th.

“The American people want to know why these devices were in place, how the decision was made to install them, and how they went undetected for so long. We will get them those answers,” said U.S. Representative Tim Murphy, the Pennsylvania Republican who serves as chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

The hearing will come less than a month after the EPA announced that Volkswagen had secretly added software code to its digital engine controllers designed to rein in emissions during testing. But in the real world, the nearly half-million diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. over the last seven years were allowed to produce significantly higher levels of pollution than allowed by federal standards.

(German prosecutors launch investigation of former VWAG CEO Winterkorn. For more, Click Here.)

The scandal threatens to consumer the automaker, with potential fines of more than $18 billion from the EPA alone. VW could face additional penalties resulting from the Justice Department investigation, as well as possible criminal sanctions. And the maker has been hit with a number of class action lawsuits alleging, among other things, that it defrauded customers.

September numbers released by VW on Thursday show that the maker did gain about 1% in sales compared to the same month a year ago. But the overall industry saw a 16% jump in volume for September. And since the scandal only hit mid-month, many analysts believe VW could be hit even harder in October.

A new study by consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc., on Thursday found that three out of four American vehicle owners now had a negative view of Volkswagen compared to one in four before the cheating scandal.

But the survey found that the majority Americans believe other automakers are rigging emissions tests, as well – despite statements by several, including BMW and Mercedes-Benz,that they’re playing by the rules.

(For more on the new survey, Click Here.)

The scandal is expected to lead regulators here and abroad to tighten testing procedures. In fact, former EPA head Margot Oge told the Associated Press that the agency had come up with a way of catching cheaters a decade ago. But due to limited resources, that testing process was focused on heavy-duty truck manufacturers who had a history of cheating.

Nonetheless, EPA’s failure to catch VW could put it in for criticism during the upcoming congressional hearing – much as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was faulted for failing to uncover the decade-long delay by General Motors in recalling 2.5 million vehicles with defective ignition switches.

Both VW and the EPA could take hits for the delay in ordering a formal recall of the diesel vehicles sold in the U.S. For the moment, the agency has not formally ordered that step, but a spokesperson noted, “EPA will require VW to remedy the noncompliance. It is likely that there will be a recall of affected vehicles.”

The timing, however, is uncertain. Part of the problem is that VW does not yet know how to bring its U.S. diesels into compliance with some of the world’s toughest emissions rules. The situation is complicated by the fact that VW has made several major updated since launching its WA 189 diesel engine seven years ago, and each version may need a different fix.

(Click Here to find out why it will prove difficult to fix VW’s U.S. diesels.)

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9 Responses to “VW Diesel Emissions Cheating Scandal Heading to Congress”

  1. Richard of Orange says:

    This ought to be good. This diesel engine has been on the market, approved by the EPA for over 7 years. Yet no one at the EPA had time to really check it. Most of the members of the majority party in congress do not even like the EPA, in fact it is one of the three Departments Rick Perry would have eliminated (if he could have just remembered which one it was). So how are the those in Congress going to reconcile the EPA not doing their work with not wanting and EPA to do any work?

  2. GT101 says:

    I keep reading the same incorrect statements regarding the VW diesel emissions issues. None of the engines ever shown to emit 40 times the allowed NOx nor is there any “defeat device” installed on any of the VW diesel engines. The term “defeat device” is the expression that the emissions legislators use for any means that can detect when an emissions test is being conducted. It doesn’t actually need to be a physical device that disables or by-passes emissions controls. It only needs to be able to detect the likelihood of an emissions test being conducted. In VW’s case their software was able to detect when an emissions test was likely to occur, in a circuitous way by assuming that a test was being conducted if the steering wheel was not being turned during a time with the front wheels were rotating and the rear wheels not rotating, such as on a chassis dynamometer.

    As usual the completely incompetent clowns in Washington who have done far more damage to the U.S. than all auto manufacturers in history could ever do, want to crucify anyone and everyone associated with this scandal instead of getting to the real issues and solutions.

    The statement that VW does not know how to bring it’s cars into compliance with some world emissions regulations is incorrect. All VW products sold meet the respective emissions requirements when and where sold. The problem is the software did not operate all of the emissions controls 100% of the time in areas where it was required, such as CA. For most of the world all that is required to comply with emissions laws is new software that operates the emissions controls as required and is sans the code that allowed the software to guess that an emissions test was being conducted. Running the emissions controls 100% of the time however may reduce mpg or power slightly. Any new engine hardware added would be to maintain or improve mpg and performance as the engines currently meet all emissions requirements when the emissions controls are properly operating.

  3. therr says:

    I am of the opinion, 90% of congressional investigations are only for personal political gain. The controlling party already have their minds set on the outcome and no amount of answering, truthful or otherwise, will deter them from looking like the incompetent idiots they are.

    As far as a slight decrease in mileage, I had a Ford 6.0L diesel ECU reprogrammed under a Ford recall in 2005 that cost me a 16% cut in mileage that I never got back, and the reduction in particulates was nowhere near 40%. This can’t be good for small diesels in the market place.

    • GT101 says:

      Unfortunately the Ford 6.0L diesel needed major reprogramming and it’s no surprise that you lost 16%. Thank Obama and the EPA for having an absurd U.S. diesel emissions requirement to punish consumers who buy practical, clean diesels like the rest of the world has been using for a 100+ years. This is Obama and the EPA’s means to exploit consumers and force unwanted, impractical, expensive, dangerous, toxic waste on consumers.


      As far as propaganda, some here are constantly spreading it to promote impractical EVs while ignoring the many deficits of same. When they can’t deal with the technical issues like $30,000 replacement Tesla S battery costs, then they attack the commenter, which changes nothing. It shows their inability to deal with reality when they need to constantly make personal attacks.

      No one that I know of has ever stated that the VW diesels were not defective in regards to emissions laws due to the “defeat device” software. The engines themselves however meet all emissions requirements when operated properly as designed. Thus a simple software upgrade sans the inappropriate code that allows the emissions controls to function as required is all that is required in most instances. Failing to comprehend the technical issues is why some folks reach incorrect conclusions. They should spend more time technically educating themselves instead of criticizing.

  4. DWH says:

    As is typical perveyers of proproganda wanting to confuse the issue. If a vehicle does not work within the stated warranty period as per federal law that vehicle is defective. I’m sure a Lincoln Lawyer lol will be corrective as to the right way to view this. As the NASCAR Smokey was caught cheating at tech inspection and denied it. Yet with no fuel tank in the car, jumped in the car with no fuel tank and drove it back to the pits! A smart great racer but one you better watch closely. Its always about the money.

  5. DWH says:

    GT 101. Some commentators should stay on technical and marketing comments and stop the political comments that rants of voodoo economics. The basics of science of
    how reduction of nitrogen oxides eliminate a software reprograming. A refit of a urea will be required for the us. As it was with large diesel semi engines. Why do you think Catapillar quit making on road engines they couldnt do it without urea. And they got a lot more r&d than most. Its a science fix not a political bs.

    • GT101 says:


      As usual you are technically in error with your comments and your personal insults don’t change reality.

      VW’s diesels pass ALL EMISSIONS REQUIREMENTS and do not need to use urea injection. If you were to do your homework you would already know that the VW diesels have passed all emissions test.

      What VW did wrong was insert code to detect when an emissions test was likely to be happening. Then it would run the emissions system at maximum capacity. In some regions of the world it is not a requirement for these engines to run the emissions system at maximum capacity or 100% of the time to meet all emissions requirements. In addition as previously discussed here by other VW diesel owners, the emissions regs do not apply when the engine is run in open loop circuit operation.

      Please stop with the meritless technically cluelessness and insults as you are doing a huge disservice to VW diesel owners looking for accurate technical information on their emissions issues. The fact that you are in denial about EVs and many other vehicles shows your bias and lack of technical expertise.

      There is no voodoo economics as any business professor can explain to you. If you don’t understand that local sales provide income for local people be it electricity to charge EV batteries or sales of gas, food, furniture or other commodities, you must have failed economics 101.

  6. 25AGhos says:

    I was wondering when Obama was going to be blamed for this, right on time unfortunately…talk about posting propaganda and a load of methane.

    Let’s keep the political views out of here, that’s what the ill-informed news blogs are for, to spread untrue rants.

    • GT101 says:


      If you have followed the U.S. diesel emissions situation for the past decade then you would already know that Obama and the EPA knowingly passed the most stringent diesel engine emissions requirements in the world to discourage the purchase of efficient, high mpg diesel powered autos by U.S. consumers. This is a fact so it’s irrefutable.

      By mandating far more stringent emissions requirements then the rest of the world, auto manufacturers had to spend more money on their U.S. spec diesel engines which raises the cost to consumers while reducing the mpg that consumers would normally obtain from these clean diesels. This is Obama’s unscrupulous efforts to promote impractical EVs that consumers have clearly said “NO” to. You don’t need to take my word for it, there are many people who have confirmed the irrational U.S. diesel emissions requirements and the unethical promotion of EVs by Obama and other technically challenged politicians.

      If you can’t deal with these facts, you should go to your favorite Obama fanbois website as this site is about automotive news including the absurd actions of Obama and the EPA, but not limited to the outrageous 54.5 mpg CAFE decree which is not based on ANY science what so ever, similar to the inappropriate U.S. diesel emissions regulations.