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In September 2015, Volkswagen admitted that it had lied to consumers and federal regulators about the performance and emissions levels of its â€śTDI Clean Dieselâ€ť vehicles. Under pressure from the EPA, the automaker stated that it had used computer software installed on its TDI engines to make these vehicles appear more eco-friendly than they actually were in reality. Volkswagen marketed its TDI models to consumers for years despite the fact that it knew these cars were not what they company claimed them to be.
The decisions that led to the Dieselgate emissions scandal began in 2004, when the EPA announced new emissions standards for automobiles sold in the U.S. These new pollution standards lowered the amount of nitrogen oxide allowed by the EPA by more than 94 percentâ€”from 1.25 to 0.07 grams per mile.
Many of Volkswagenâ€™s rivalsâ€”including Mazda, Honda, Nissan, and Hyundaiâ€”abandoned their plans to target the U.S. market for diesel-powered vehicles in the wake of the EPAâ€™s announcement. But Volkswagen, eager to expand sales in the U.S. and overtake Toyota as the worldâ€™s leading automaker, saw the new regulations as a challenge and launched plans to aggressively market its diesel models in the U.S.
But although VW executives pushed engineers to develop a diesel engine that could meet EPA emissions standards, engineers were unable to do so within the budget and timeframe set by the company. Rather than abandon its goals for â€śclean dieselâ€ť vehicles in the U.S., Volkswagen and its engineers decided to cheat by installing a computer â€śdefeat deviceâ€ť on its TDI engines. This defeat device was designed to fool emissions testing software into thinking that the TDI vehicles were emitting significantly lower amounts of pollution than they actually were. In fact, subsequent tests by the EPA have found that VW and Audi TDI models emit up to 40 times more nitrogen oxide than allowed under the Clean Air Act.
Volkswagen executives have maintained that the emissions cheating software was the product of just a few engineers within the company, and that the Volkswagen board of directors and its executives had no knowledge of the emissions cheating until just before the scandal was announced to the public.Â However, investigations into the Dieselgate scandal have uncovered numerous employees who say that they tried to warn VW executives about the emissions cheating years before the scandal was made public. At least 50 Volkswagen employees based in Germany have confessed to having knowledge of the emissions scandal and the companyâ€™s decision to install the software defeat device that enables the emissions cheating.
Experts say that whatever Volkswagen may claim, the process involved in the companyâ€™s emissions cheating was far too complex for it to be the work of a small number of employees. Former EPA officials say that the defeat device was an extremely sophisticated piece of software, incorporating computer code which utilized sensors that tracked the positioning of carâ€™s wheels and numerous emissions controls. These experts say that the number of engineers, technicians, and managers that would be needed to coordinate the function of the TDI models with the emissions-cheating software would have to be substantial.
These experts believe that Volkswagenâ€™s engineers may have believed that they could get away with their deception because of the complexity of the computer software involved in the emissions cheating. According to one programmer who wrote code for VW, the computer programs on the TDI models contained â€śmillions of lines of code. The vast majority of developers in a company donâ€™t have the chance to look at that line by line. You donâ€™t have time to scrutinize every piece of code.â€ť
The complexity of the VW diesel vehicles software enabled the companyâ€™s emissions cheating to go undetected for years. However, in the wake of the Dieselgate scandal, many VW and Audi owners are finding out that the companyâ€™s fraudulent claims regarding the performance and emissions of its diesel models are having real consequences for the value of their cars. Many VW and Audi vehicle owners have seen the value of their cars plummet in the wake of the diesel emissions scandal announcement. Many other owners of TDI diesel models may be unable to register their vehicles due to the emissions problems caused by VWâ€™s actions.
Many Volkswagen and Audi â€śTDI Clean Dieselâ€ť model owners have taken action against VW for the companyâ€™s fraudulent misrepresentations of the performance and emissions levels of its diesel models. Numerous class actions and product liability lawsuits against Volkswagen have been filed by TDI owners who feel that they were lied to by VW about their cars.
The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have filed several lawsuits on behalf of Volkswagen and Audi diesel owners who purchased one of the models involved in the VW recall. Our law firm expects to file more cases on behalf of VW and Audi owners who were lied to by Volkswagen, and to remain involved in these cases throughout the litigation process.
If you purchased or leased a Volkswagen, Audi, or Porsche diesel model that was recalled by VW, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit. For more information about the Dieselgate litigation and to find out if you qualify, contact the attorneys at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by answering a few simple questions on the free case evaluation form at the top of this page to get started immediately.